The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and NextEra Energy Resources have announced the commissioning of what they say is Alabama’s largest solar energy project – the River Bend Solar Energy Center.
According to the partners, the 75 MW project features more than 300,000 solar panels with trackers that will follow the sun from east to west each day to maximize energy production. The energy, enough to power more than 15,000 homes, will serve TVA consumers under a 20-year power purchase agreement between TVA and NextEra Energy Resources.
“TVA never stands still, and this NextEra Energy Resources project helps us meet our commitment to provide the 9 million people of the Tennessee Valley with reliable, low-cost, carbon-free electricity,” says Van Wardlaw, executive vice president of external relations for TVA. “Over the next 20 years, TVA will invest about $8 billion to support our renewable energy portfolio, and we see a bright renewable energy future for projects like this across the Tennessee Valley.”
“We are pleased to once again work with our valued customer, TVA, to bring additional renewables into their portfolio with this first project of its scale in Alabama,” states Mike O’Sullivan, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources, which is the owner and operator of the project.
The partners say the project has created a significant economic boost for Lauderdale County, creating about 350 jobs during the construction phase, with most of the workers coming from the local area. From labor and materials, to housing, health care and construction – a wide variety of local businesses have benefited from the influx of economic activity.
“This project has provided good jobs for Lauderdale County residents, and businesses are enjoying the extra activity, too,” says Lauderdale County Commissioner Joe Hackworth. “We are thrilled to host the state’s largest solar facility and help realize the benefits it can bring to our community.”
Over its operational life, the River Bend Solar Energy Center is expected to generate more than $9 million in property taxes, with the majority going to benefit the Lauderdale County School District.
“I know the school board will look at all of the opportunities these funds will provide,” says Lauderdale County School Superintendent Jennifer Gray. “The funds will be a boost to many of the school district’s future projects.”