The Tennessee Valley Authority and Meta (formerly the Facebook Company), Jackson Energy Authority(JEA) as well as Silicon Ranch broke ground for a new 70 MW AC solar plant 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.”
Silicon Ranch, Nashville, will finance, own, operate and maintain McKellar Solar Farm. This is a disciplined approach that the company uses with every project it develops. Silicon Ranch expects that it will invest upwards to $90 million to build the facility. In addition, the project will generate millions in property taxes that will benefit Madison County residents. These taxes will also support local government services. Silicon Ranch plans to provide additional educational outreach opportunities for students to learn about the role that projects like the McKellar Solar Farm have in the energy transition.
SR EPC, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Silicon Ranch, serves as the prime contractor. SR EPC selected PCL Construction to be the subcontractor of the PV plant, and EPC Services Company to be the subcontractor of 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 over 350 jobs. Preference will be given to local labor pool members and military veterans. 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 before 2022. Interconnection to the TVA grid will be made possible by the JEA distribution network.
“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. TVA will have 70% carbon reduction by 2030, a reduction of around 80% by 2035, as well as a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in 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 platform’s innovative design will provide valuable environmental, economic, and social outcomes that go beyond the solar facility’s positive impact. This will create additional value for local communities and project stakeholders. Silicon Ranch manages sheep grazing and uses regenerative pastureland management techniques to restore each array’s functioning grassland ecosystem. Each site is still in agricultural production.