Knoxville invests in advanced energy future

TVA and KUB to develop 200-MW solar farm, Mayor’s office outlines proposed investments

In 2019, the City of Knoxville set an ambitious clean-energy target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels. Just last year, the Knoxville Utilities Board announced that 20 percent of the city’s electricity would come from renewable sources by 2023. Today, Knoxville is on its way to becoming a leader in the region for solar energy thanks to exciting new developments. 

TVA and KUB to develop 200-MW solar farm

To support Knoxville’s renewable energy transition, the Tennessee Valley Authority announced it has selected Origis Energy to build a 200-megawatt solar farm in Mississippi. KUB’s support also enabled 50 megawatts of new battery storage technology that will improve grid resiliency. 

“We take our commitment of being good stewards of our environment seriously, and we are thrilled to work with TVA to put our community on the map for renewable energy,” said Gabriel Bolas, KUB president and CEO, in a written statement. “This endeavor benefits residential and business customers who can know that their daily lives include green energy resources, leading the way to a sustainable future.”  

Mayor’s office outlines proposed investments 

TVA and KUB’s solar farm isn’t the only advanced energy news out of Knoxville. This past week, Mayor Indya Kincannon released her office’s proposed 2021-22 budget  that includes five key priorities, one of which is investing in a “clean and resilient future.” Using insight gathered from the Mayor’s Climate Council, the proposed budget involves:

  • $15.3 million in direct City support for Knoxville Area Transit (KAT), including $1.2 million for matching grants as KAT continues to convert its fleet to all-electric buses
  •  $150,000 for additional public electric vehicle charging stations and for charging infrastructure to support electrification of the City’s vehicle fleet
  • More than $4 million is committed to stormwater infrastructure and $721,000 is allocated to protect and expand Knoxville’s urban forest, both critical programs for resilience and a healthy environment

“We can and will lead by example in reducing carbon emissions,” said Mayor Kincannon in a written statement. “My proposed budget takes the next important steps toward reaching those goals. We’re building the transformational infrastructure now that will enable us to be cleaner and greener for generations to come.”

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TVA, Origis Energy to power Google data centers with 100% renewable energy

(Originally published on The Chattanoogan)

The Tennessee Valley Authority said Monday that the new 100-megawatt solar facility in Obion County, Tn. will supply carbon-free energy to Google’s data centers in Clarksville, Tn. and Hollywood, Al.

Florida-based solar developer Origis Energy is using TVA’s nationally recognized Green Invest program to develop the solar farm.

“The Green Invest program helps customers like Google meet their long-term sustainability goals with new renewable energy projects,” officials said. “In the past two years, Green Invest has generated $1.4 billion in economic activity in TVA’s service area.”

“TVA’s Green Invest can deliver clean, reliable renewable energy at a competitive price – stimulating growth across our seven-state region and giving our region a competitive advantage through public power,” said Chris Hansen, TVA vice president, Origination and Renewables.

Through a long-term power purchase agreement, Origis Energy will own and operate the plant, using industry leading land stewardship techniques. The project will create more than 300 construction jobs, with additional employment for eight to10 fulltime operations and maintenance staff. Origis plans to have the solar facility operational by the end of 2022, pending environmental reviews.

“This Tennessee solar milestone is another demonstration of the success of TVA’s Green Invest partnership,” said Johan Vanhee, Origis Energy chief commercial officer and chief procurement officer. “Such utility innovations are helping Google reach its aim to be the first major company to operate carbon free by 2030. We are very pleased to add 100 megawatts to this goal while contributing to the economic development of Obion County.”

To power the data centers, Google had already purchased a total of 266 megawatts of power generated by multiple solar farms linked into the TVA electric grid.

“Google is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy and our goal is to run our business on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times, by 2030,” said Reid Spolek, with Data Center Energy Strategy at Google. “Working with TVA and Origis through Green Invest will help move us closer to this goal.”

Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of four other major Green Invest deals TVA completed this year: General Motors, Vanderbilt University, Knoxville Utilities Board and Facebook.

“TVA is a job creator, and we are looking for creative ways to use our solar programs to bring high-paying jobs to the communities we serve,” said Mr. Hansen. “By integrating public-private partnerships with clean energy, we can make our region the premier destination for businesses that want to achieve their sustainability goals.”

TVA selects First Solar and Origis Energy for 212-MW solar development pipeline

(Originally published on Solar Power World)

The Tennessee Valley Authority has selected First Solar and Origis Energy to develop 212 MWAC of solar power to fulfill the Knoxville Utilities Board’s March 2020 commitment to new renewable energy. KUB is using the TVA Green Invest program to produce carbon-free energy equivalent to 8% of KUB’s annual electric load.

“We launched Green Invest to help local power companies and businesses meet their sustainability goals by building new large-scale solar facilities across our region,” said Doug Perry, TVA vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions. “KUB is a leader as our region quickly pivots to expand the supply of renewable energy to meet customer requests for ever-cleaner power.”

As part of the initiative, TVA has entered into a 20-year PPA with the 177-MW Ridgely Energy Farm in Lake County, Tennessee, developed by First Solar. With this agreement, TVA has now contracted for a total of 404 MW of First Solar developed projects, including an existing 20-year PPA for the 227-MW project in Muscle Shoals.

“TVA’s Green Invest program sets the benchmark for public-private partnerships, demonstrating how innovative procurement and deal structures can enable utilities’ decarbonization commitments,” said Eran Mahrer, First Solar’s vice president, Markets, Origination, and Government Affairs. “As America’s solar company, we’re proud to be partnering with TVA to deliver cleaner solar electricity to the people of Knoxville, Tennessee, using solar module technology that was designed and developed in America.”

The KUB project is a milestone because it marks a 60% increase in TVA’s operating and contracted solar capacity since the start of fiscal year 2020.

In March, TVA announced a contract with Origis Energy to develop a 200-MW solar site in Lowndes County, Mississippi, for TVA, with 35 MW of this facility supporting KUB’s Green Invest purchase.

Read more here.