On the Road to a Greener Future

General Motors teams with TVA to power its Spring Hill manufacturing plant with solar energy.

When General Motors dreams, it dreams big. And it envisions a future where its U.S. facilities source 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy.

For such a large and complex operation, going green means there is some problem solving to do. Indeed, GM has given itself until 2030 to work out all the particulars. But at its Spring Hill, Tennessee, manufacturing facility, the solar solution will shift into gear much sooner through TVA’s innovative Green Invest program. There, operations will be 100 percent powered by renewable energy by 2022.

Animation courtesy General Motors

At 2,100 acres, Spring Hill is GM’s largest facility in North America, and the company builds the GMC Acadia, the Cadillac XT5 and XT6 models, as well as several engines at the Tennessee Valley plant. To power its operations will require 100 MW of green power — equivalent to the annual consumption of 18,000 households per year.

Through Green Invest, TVA brokered a competitive bidding process to identify the right provider at the right cost for large-scale solar on behalf of GM. The result is that GM will secure half of the 200 MW solar farm recently announced by TVA in Lowndes County, Mississippi currently being developed (pending environmental review) by Origis Energy.

“Green Invest is flexible and responsive, able to meet the sustainability goals of large power consumers, from automotive manufacturers like GM to universities to local power companies,” says Jamie Bach, manager, Renewable Energy Solutions. “We can use economies of scale to offer new-to-the-world industrial scale solutions for any industrial customers undertaking serious green initiatives.”

For its part, GM — a linchpin in the Valley’s thriving automotive sector — is dedicated to helping create a future with zero emissions. “As a member of RE100, we’re committed to 100 percent renewable electricity and using our scale and relationships to increase demand,” says Dane Parker, GM’s chief sustainability officer.

TVA is proud to partner in helping GM make progress down its path to a better planet. In part that's because what’s good for GM is good for the Tennessee Valley. TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash sums it up: “We’re excited that GM chose Green Invest because TVA’s ability to meet the renewable energy needs of our customers will drive vital investment and jobs across our seven-state region. Moving forward, large-scale solar installations provide the best value for our customers to help meet their sustainability goals, which makes the Green Invest program a win for everyone.”

The GM announcement comes on the heels of two other major Green Invest partnerships. In March, Knoxville Utilities Board committed to use Green Invest to produce carbon-free energy equivalent to 8% of KUB’s annual electric load. TVA’s first Green Invest agreement between TVA, Nashville Electric Service, Vanderbilt University, and Silicon Ranch for 35 MW of new solar for the university was announced in January.

TVA is a leader in clean energy, with nearly 60 percent of its energy supply coming from carbon-free sources (including nuclear and hydro). That’s the highest percentage of clean generation among regional peers.