Tennessee Valley Authority Awards 10 MW Under Solar Pilot Program

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA), has awarded 10 MW of solar capacity to seven local power companies (LPCs) that applied through TVA’s Distributed Solar Solutions (DSS) pilot program. Once completed, the resultant projects will generate enough solar energy to power more than 900 average homes, according to the TVA.

“DSS is an important TVA solar program because it brings key stakeholders together to generate clean energy in a thoughtful and collaborative manner that best serves the 9 million people of the Valley,” says Tammy Bramlett, the TVA’s director of business development and renewables.

According to the TVA, DSS is a pilot program meant to encourage LPCs and solar developers to work together to create renewable energy projects at the community level.

“TVPPA and TVA worked closely to develop and roll out this year’s DSS program,” says Danette Scudder, vice president of TVPPA. “From drafting guidelines to evaluating and ultimately selecting projects for capacity, we worked collaboratively to maximize learning opportunities for LPCs as they strive to meet the growing renewable demand of their end-use customers.”

TVA announced the available capacity through the DSS pilot program in January. Applications were submitted for solar projects that ranged from 50 kW to 2 MW. The selection committee reviewed 13 proposals before selecting the seven following awardees: North Georgia Electric Membership Corp., Volunteer Electric Co., Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tullahoma Utilities Authority, Jackson Energy Authority, Nashville Electric Service, and Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW).

In an announcement, MLGW says that its awarded project includes the installation and operation of a 2 MW solar array, which will be built at Nike Inc.’s North America Logistics Campus. No MLGW funds will be used for the project, which will interconnect to MLGW’s electric distribution grid, and Nashville-based Silicon Ranch Corp. will fund, build, own and operate the system.

“MLGW is pleased to collaborate with Nike and Silicon Ranch in the construction of a large solar array in Memphis,” states Jerry Collins Jr., MLGW president and CEO. “This project demonstrates the benefits of public-private partnerships to meet growing interest in renewable power options. We are excited to take a leadership role in increasing the amount of green energy in the region.”

According to MLGW, the solar array is expected to generate approximately 3.7 million kWh of electricity per year, or enough to meet the annual needs of 242 average households. Solar power from the array will be sold to TVA under a 20-year power purchase agreement, while Nike will receive the renewable energy credits, the intangible environmental benefits associated with green power generation.

“As long-term owners of our projects, Silicon Ranch takes great pride in being excellent neighbors and active members in each community we serve,” says Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch president and CEO. “We especially love working in our home state and are grateful for the partnership we’ve developed with MLGW, TVA and Nike. Each of these organizations deserves tremendous credit for their commitment to bring the economic, environmental and community benefits of solar energy to west Tennessee.”

Although the timeline has not been finalized, MLGW says the project is expected to start generating solar power in summer 2018.

The TVA’s Bramlett comments, “We are pleased to see the strong DSS interest because it allows TVA to partner directly with LPCs and developers to bring renewable energy to the Valley. TVA remains committed to providing clean, efficient renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and help protect the environment.”

TVA notes it has contracted or installed around 400 MW of solar capacity in its generation portfolio, and it currently has more than 1,200 MW of wind and over 50 MW of biomass. TVA’s private renewable program, offered through participating LPCs, has resulted in over 100 MW of renewable capacity, with more than 3,000 systems operating across the region.

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