The Tennessee Valley Authority, Meta (formerly Facebook), Jackson Energy Authority (JEA) and Silicon Ranch broke ground on a 70-MWAC solar facility in Madison County, Tennessee. The McKellar Solar Farm will support Meta’s regional operations with 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.
Nashville-based Silicon Ranch will fund, own, operate and maintain the McKellar Solar Farm. The company expects to invest upwards of $90 million to construct the facility, which will contribute millions of dollars in property taxes, supporting government services and the local school system in Madison County.
Silicon Ranch plans to support additional educational outreach opportunities to help teach students about the role projects like the McKellar Solar Farm play in the energy transition.
SR EPC, a wholly-owned Silicon Ranch subsidiary, is the primary contractor for the project. SR EPC engaged PCL Construction as the subcontractor for the PV plant and EPC Services Company as the subcontractor for 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, solar operations manager at PCL.
Construction will create more than 350 jobs, with preference given to the local labor pool 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 Reagan Farr, co-founder and CEO of Silicon Ranch. “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.”
Construction of the facility is expected to be completed before the end of 2022, with interconnection to the TVA grid facilitated by the JEA distribution system.
“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.”
The McKellar Solar Farm will integrate Silicon Ranch’s Regenerative Energy model, a holistic approach to design, construction and operations that co-locates renewable energy production with regenerative agriculture practices. Through managed sheep grazing and using regenerative pastureland management practices, Silicon Ranch restores the land housing each array to a functioning grassland ecosystem, while keeping each site in agricultural production.
“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 MW 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.”
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