The Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA), awarded the 2015 Solar Champion Award today to Pickwick Electric Cooperative (PEC), at the reception following the organization’s annual meeting at the Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP office in Nashville.
“TenneSEIA is proud to present our Solar Champion Award to John Bowers and the Pickwick Electric Cooperative team for their leadership in solar within the local power company and cooperative community. Pickwick has been instrumental in furthering the advancement of solar penetration in the state and ‘moving the needle’ in terms of operating solar project capacity across the country,” Gil Melear-Hough, President of TenneSEIA.
PEC’s President John Bowers and Past President Karl Dudley’s forward thinking management and leadership in engineering design principles, coupled with their commitment to serve the needs and priorities of all customer members, has made utility scale solar a reality in the TVA service area and the State of Tennessee. Many utilities and cooperatives across the country have since looked to PEC as a leader on how to facilitate solar deployment and grid interconnections. PEC’s accomplishments have garnered the local power company with national attention and awards, including being named the number one utility in the nation to add the most solar generated energy per customer in 2014 by the Solar Electric Power Association.
Over the past few years, Pickwick has interconnected over 40 Megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity and has an additional 30 MW of capacity approved and due to come online to its distribution system in 2016. Currently, the solar farms on PEC’s distribution system produce approximately 60,000 MWh of electricity a year, which is the same amount of energy used by 4,800 average homes. Each year, the solar farms will offset approximately 32,220 tons of CO2. Over 400 local contractors were used to build the solar farms and 1.45 million in direct expenditures were spent directly in McNairy County for wages, lodging and supplies.
“Pickwick’s leadership among local power companies and within the TVA region has created significant job opportunities, resulted in a boost to the local economy and will contribute to continued growth through its ability to market the community as a national leader in environmentally responsible energy generation. The successes of rural cooperatives such as Pickwick highlight solar energy’s momentum across the United States and the true potential we can achieve when the solar industry and utilities work together,” Matt Brown, Director of Utility Development & Strategy for Silicon Ranch Corporation.
TenneSEIA has been working closely with TVA and Local Power Companies (LPCs) since the industry association incorporated in 2010. LPCs are integral to solar development in the Valley, as they collaborate with the local solar industry to administer the interconnection of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to the grid. TenneSEIA congratulates Pickwick Electric Cooperative on their well-earned Solar Champion Award and looks forward to seeing PEC’s continued leadership in creating new business models and utility best practices that ensure solar continues to be a viable resource affordable and accessible for all.