The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced Friday an agreement with two solar developers to build the largest solar installations in Tennessee and Alabama at 150 and 227 megawatts, respectively.
The 377 megawatt output from these facilities is part of a historic agreement to support Facebook’s new $750 million data center in Huntsville, Ala., with 100 percent renewable energy.
The 150 megawatt location, to be built here by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, out of Juno, Fla., will be situated on a 1,200-acre site in the Elora area. The Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Development Board (FLCIDB) had approved a payment in lieu of tax agreement for the project last fall and been in continuous talks with TVA about the project.
The 227 megawatt location will be constructed by First Solar in Colbert County, Ala.
“TVA’s commitment to the environment and our diverse portfolio are among the top reasons why businesses choose to relocate to the Valley,” said John Bradley, TVA’s senior vice president of economic development. “TVA’s ability to deliver large amounts of renewable, reliable energy at competitive rates makes the Valley an attractive place to do business and recruit quality jobs.”
Friday’s announcement stems from TVA’s 2017 Request for Proposals when the largest public utility in America began working with Facebook and called on the nation’s top renewable energy developers to submit bids to supply large quantities of solar power.
“We are committed to supporting our operations with 100 percent renewable energy and look to partner with organizations like TVA who offer solutions to help meet that goal,” said Bryce Dalley, energy manager, Facebook. “TVA has been a great, responsive partner, and we are looking forward to being a part of the community in Huntsville.”
“This announcement demonstrates TVA’s commitment to invest in renewable energy that attracts high-paying jobs to benefit the communities we serve,” said Doug Perry, TVA vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions. “This partnership aligns the core values of TVA’s public power model with Facebook’s mission to bring the world closer together – powered by renewable energy.”
Facebook has committed to support all of its data centers and offices with 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. Through a partnership with TVA, the company’s first Valley-based facility will be powered with 100 percent renewable energy, split between the two locations subject to appropriate environmental reviews.
“Solar power has a bright future for families in the Tennessee Valley if we can continue to attract top-tier companies like Facebook,” Perry said. TVA is planning to invest $8 billion in renewable energy over the next 20 years.
According to discussion in the FLCIDB’s last board meeting, the project will represent a $150 million investment, and even with the PILOT, generate $113,000 in tax revenues for the county in its first year. Officials in that meeting also discussed the attention the project would draw from big companies interested in renewable energy.
Fayetteville and Lincoln County are already on the map in that regard, with Fayetteville Public Utilities recently receiving its third EnergyRight Solutions Award for being the third top performing utility in the Valley in support of TVA’s Green Power Providers program. Since FPU began offering the Green Power Providers program locally through TVA, the utility has charted 47 individual solar installations across its service area. Total solar generation from FPU customers stood at just over six megawatts in July.
Clean Energy advocates applaud announcement
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement in response to Friday’s announcement:
“We applaud Facebook for having the vision and the leadership to push for a clean energy future and TVA for responding to this large customer’s demand,” he said. “We look forward to additional solar announcements. However, TVA will still need to scale up considerably over the next five years to keep pace with solar installations from other utilities in the Southeast and respond to all customer classes desire for more solar.
“Notably, next door in the Carolinas, Duke Energy is simultaneously pursuing multiple paths for solar deployment including responding to requests from private companies, meeting public policy directives, and identifying the least-cost path to serve its customers. We are pleased to see that TVA is beginning to engage on the first path, and hope to see integration of more solar into TVA’s energy portfolio in order to serve TVA’s broad customer base.”
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.