The Tennessee Valley Authority, Meta (formerly the Facebook company), Jackson Energy Authority (JEA) and Silicon Ranch broke ground on a new 70 MW AC solar facility in Madison County, Tenn. The McKellar Solar Farm will help support Meta’s regional operations with 100% renewable energy.
Originally announced in August 2020, the McKellar facility is part of TVA’s Green Invest program, which helps customers such as Meta meet their long-term sustainability goals with new utility-scale solar projects located within the Valley.
“TVA is the nexus for reliable, economical renewable energy solutions, and we have already committed $3 billion to bring more than 2,000 MW of new solar to the Valley since 2018,” said Doug Perry, TVA Senior Vice President, Commercial Energy Solutions. “This public-private partnership with Meta and Silicon Ranch demonstrates the strength of TVA’s community energy model to attract capital investment and high-quality jobs into the communities we serve while helping businesses meet their sustainability goals.”
Nashville-based Silicon Ranch will fund, own, operate, and maintain the McKellar Solar Farm, a disciplined approach the company takes with every project it develops. Silicon Ranch expects to invest upwards of $90 million to construct the facility, and the project will contribute millions of dollars more in property taxes, which benefit all Madison County residents by supporting local government services and the local school system. As part of its commitment to the communities where it sites solar projects, Silicon Ranch plans to support additional educational outreach opportunities to help teach students about the role projects like the McKellar Solar Farm play in the energy transition.
SR EPC, LLC (SR EPC), a wholly-owned Silicon Ranch subsidiary, is the prime contractor for the project. SR EPC engaged PCL Construction as the subcontractor for the PV plant and EPC Services Company as the subcontractor for the substation. “Solar energy plays a critical role in our pathway to a more sustainable future. PLC is excited to leverage its experience in building over 50 utility-scale projects, to construct the McKellar solar facility,” said Brad Hise, PCL’s Solar Operations Manager.
Construction of the solar facility will create more than 350 construction jobs, with preference given to the local labor pool and the military veteran community. The solar farm will also provide additional employment for ongoing operations and maintenance, including ranchers and farmers to care for the land as part of Silicon Ranch’s Regenerative Energy® holistic approach to land management.
“At Silicon Ranch we believe that solar projects can create enduring value and deliver a meaningful legacy for communities, and we thank TVA, Meta, JEA, and the Jackson Chamber for making this significant investment in Madison County possible,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Reagan Farr. “Silicon Ranch has been proud to partner with Meta to supply renewable energy to its data center operations in Georgia, and we’re honored to support Meta’s operations right here in the Tennessee Valley. McKellar Solar Farm is yet another innovative, customer-driven renewable energy solution made possible through TVA’s meaningful leadership in our home region.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with TVA and Silicon Ranch to bring this new solar facility to the grid in support of our operations in the Tennessee Valley,” said Urvi Parekh, head of Renewable Energy at Meta. “The more than 850 megawatts of new solar energy we are developing with TVA is an important part of our goal to support our global operations with 100% renewable energy. We thank our partners Silicon Ranch and TVA for sharing our commitment to have a positive impact on the communities where we locate.”
Construction of the facility is expected to be completed before the end of 2022, with interconnection to the TVA grid facilitated by the JEA distribution system.
“This solar farm is the largest project to date in JEA’s service territory, reflecting our commitment to providing sustainable, reliable, and affordable power in the Tennessee Valley,” said Jim Ferrell, President and CEO of Jackson Energy Authority. “We are proud to partner with Meta, TVA, and Silicon Ranch to supply carbon-free solar power for many years to come.”
This year, nearly 60% of TVA’s electricity is from carbon-free generation. To meet the region’s renewable energy needs and lower Valley carbon, TVA plans to add 10,000 MW of solar by 2035. The additional solar will help TVA reach 70% carbon reduction by 2030, about 80% reduction by 2035, and an aspirational target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The McKellar Solar Farm will integrate Silicon Ranch’s transformative Regenerative Energy® model, a holistic approach to design, construction, and operations that co-locates renewable energy production with regenerative agriculture practices. The innovative platform delivers valuable environmental, social, and economic outcomes above and beyond the significant positive impacts a solar facility alone can generate, creating additional value for the surrounding communities and project stakeholders. Through managed sheep grazing using regenerative pastureland management practices, Silicon Ranch restores the land housing each array to a functioning grassland ecosystem, while keeping each site in agricultural production.