MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Memphis and Shelby County community is already home to the blues and barbeque; now Shelby County also will be home to one of Tennessee’s largest solar farms.
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Valley Authority announced a new Green Invest partnership with Facebook and RWE Renewables that will build a 150-megawatt solar facility near Millington. Facebook will use 110 megawatts of the solar energy to support their data center operations in Gallatin, Tennessee, and the broader Tennessee Valley.
“Bringing clean energy to Shelby County is part of our long-term community plan, and is critical to support our region’s sustainability strategy,” said Doug Perry, TVA senior vice president, Commercial Energy Solutions. “This project is more than a solar farm, it puts people to work, revitalizes communities and makes our region an environmental leader.”
Since 2018, Green Invest has attracted nearly $2.7 billion in solar investment and procured over 2,100 megawatts of solar on behalf of its customers – maintaining TVA’s green energy leadership with the greatest amount of renewable generation in the Southeast.
TVA is partnering with RWE, one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, to develop the $140 million solar farm. RWE, through a long-term power purchase agreement with TVA, will own and operate the plant using industry-leading land stewardship techniques.
“RWE is a global renewable energy leader, and we are excited to develop one of the world’s most advanced solar farms in Shelby County,” said Silvia Ortin, COO Onshore Wind and Solar PV Americas, RWE Renewables. “Through TVA Green Invest, the clean energy generated from this site will fuel jobs locally and across the state and help Facebook achieve its carbon reduction goals.”
Generating more than $12 million in property tax revenue, the project will create more than 150 construction jobs, with additional employment for 2 to 4 full-time operations and maintenance staff. The facility is expected to come online in late 2023, pending environmental reviews.
“Green Invest demonstrates the value that TVA’s public power model has for our community,” said Tennessee State Senator Paul Rose. “This solar farm will be a beacon that attracts jobs and investment into Shelby County,”
Millington Mayor Terry Jones believes the project will create valuable opportunities for local residents and businesses. “I’m excited because TVA and Facebook are going to be great neighbors, and their trusted brands will benefit everyone in Shelby County. Businesses want renewable energy, and this solar farm makes it easier for us to compete for good jobs.”
In April, Facebook announced that its operations are now supported by 100% renewable energy. To support that goal, in the last year, Facebook has signed Green Invest agreements for 475 megawatts of new solar to be built in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Since 2018, Facebook has agreed to purchase a total of 852 megawatts of power generated by multiple solar farms linked into the TVA electric grid.
“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world, and the connections we made with TVA and RWE will ensure our operations in the Tennessee Valley are supported with new solar energy,” said Urvi Parekh, head of Renewable Energy at Facebook. “This solar project, which is our third in Tennessee, will help us continue our commitment of 100% renewable energy for our global operations, while also bringing new investment and jobs to the local community.”
TVA’s electricity is nearly 60% carbon-free, and the utility sees a bright future for solar fueling our region’s economy. Since October, TVA has increased its contracted solar capacity by 60%.
“Facebook, RWE and our elected officials are great partners, and this announcement demonstrates our commitment to Shelby County, and how we are using solar energy to make our region the prime destination for businesses to achieve their environmental goals,” said Perry.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.
RWE Renewables is one of the world's leading renewable energy companies. With around 3,500 employees, the company has onshore and offshore wind farms, photovoltaic plants and battery storage facilities with a combined capacity of approximately 9 gigawatts. RWE Renewables is driving the expansion of renewable energy in more than 20 countries on five continents. From 2020 to 2022, RWE Renewables targets to invest €5 billion net in renewable energy and to grow its renewables portfolio to 13 gigawatts of net capacity. Beyond this, the company plans to further grow in wind and solar power. The focus is on the Americas, the core markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
A rendering of Facebook’s $800 million data center that will cover nearly 1 million square feet.