Silicon Ranch planning 35-MW solar array through Tennessee utility’s renewables deal

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A landmark agreement announced Wednesday between Nashville Electric Service (NES), Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will bring new, large-scale renewable energy to the Tennessee Valley through TVA’s Green Invest program.

TVA has awarded Nashville-based solar developer Silicon Ranch a contract to build, own and operate a 35-MW installation in Bedford County, Tennessee, pending completion of environmental review. Additional Green Invest announcements resulting from TVA’s 2019 request for renewable energy proposals are anticipated in the coming weeks.

“Silicon Ranch and TVA have forged a strong partnership through the successful development of more than 30 solar projects across the valley, and it is our sincere honor to expand our relationship with TVA,” said Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch co-founder and chairman. “As a proud alumnus myself, along with several of our colleagues, we are especially proud to partner with Vanderbilt, and we applaud this world-class institution for its bold and thoughtful leadership. We wish to thank our partners at TVA, NES and Duck River Electric for making this innovative partnership possible.”

The solar installation is expected to come online in fall 2022, with planned interconnection to the grid through Duck River Electric Membership Corporation’s distribution system.

“We are proud to be part of the solution in a program that allows Vanderbilt to achieve [its] renewable goals while ensuring no additional cost to our current members or future generations of members,” said Scott Spence, DREMC president and CEO.

The partnership is the first of its kind under the new program, which matches the demand for green power from large business and industrial customers with cost-effective renewable projects.

“We are excited to enter into the first Green Invest agreement with a world-renowned university like Vanderbilt and our long-term partner NES, which is invested in the success of its customers,” said Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO. “This solution is a model that can be used throughout the region as TVA helps drive the growth of renewable energy at all scales.”

The Green Invest program helps customers meet their long-term sustainability goals and is modeled on TVA’s work with Facebook and Google, beginning in 2018, to identify new renewable energy for the data centers locating in the region. Green Invest is now available to local power companies and business and industry customers across TVA’s service territory. The program leverages long-term agreements to build new, large-scale renewable energy installations in the valley through a competitive bid process.

“NES is proud to partner with TVA, Vanderbilt and Silicon Ranch to reduce carbon emissions in our region,” said Decosta Jenkins, NES president and CEO. “We are committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable power while continuing to listen to our customers’ needs.”

The collaboration highlights one way the long-term Partnership agreement announced last year between TVA and local power companies enables innovative approaches to expand renewable energy resources in the Tennessee Valley.

“NES’s recent 20-year commitment to public power in the region enabled them to meet the sustainability needs of their largest customer with affordable renewable energy through this new program,” said Doug Perry, VP of commercial energy solutions, TVA. “Large-scale solar installations provide the best value for the system. By working with businesses prepared to back these projects financially, cost isn’t shifted to other power company customers or co-op members. The Green Invest approach is a win for everyone.”

In 2019, Vanderbilt announced its goal to power the campus entirely through renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2050. The Green Invest agreement, approved at NES’s latest board meeting, will offset approximately 70% of the university’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearly 60% of the energy TVA produces comes from carbon-free sources.

News item from Tennessee Valley Authority

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