The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) last week announced that two 100-megawatt solar farms are being built in the Tennessee Valley to supply green energy for Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Google data centers in Bridgeport, Alabama, and Clarksville, Tennessee.

In August, as Electrek reported, the federally owned utility says it’s on track to reduce emissions by 70% below 2005 levels by 2030:

The TVA has already cut its carbon output by 60% in the past 15 years. It has boosted power generation from nuclear, hydro, and solar facilities and is replacing coal-fired plants with combined-cycle natural gas generators. It’s planning on adding more solar and also uses wind.

Miami-based solar developer Origis Energy will build a 705-acre solar farm in Obion County in northwestern Tennessee to supply Google in Tennessee and northwestern Alabama with energy from solar. Silicon Ranch Corp. is building another solar farm in Tullahoma to supply Vanderbilt.

Johan Vanhee, Origis Energy chief commercial officer and chief procurement officer, said:

This Tennessee solar milestone is another demonstration of the success of TVA’s Green Invest partnership.

Such utility innovations are helping Google reach its aim to be the first major company to operate carbon free by 2030.

But as the Chattanooga Free Times Press reports:

Despite the recent solar additions in parts of the Valley, Chattanooga gets only about one-third as much electricity from solar power as the average of all utilities in the Southeast.

Nonetheless, the long-range power plan adopted by the Tennessee Valley Authority last year envisions the federal utility and its customers adding as much as 14 gigawatts of additional solar generation by 2040, which would be more than 20 times the amount of solar generation now in the Valley.

The TVA now gets more than 40% of its power from its seven operating nuclear reactors in Tennessee and Alabama, and about 10% of its power from its 29 power-producing dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

Electrek’s Take

The TVA, which serves 10 million customers in seven states, was created during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933 to bring power and economic development to one of the areas of the US hit hardest by the Great Depression.

In 2019, the TVA cut the price it pays customers who generate solar power below the retail rate, and that was bad for Tennessee. Hopefully, under President-elect Joe Biden, the federally owned utility will get a boost to move more quickly toward the transition to green energy, and perhaps even beat its 2030 emissions reduction target.

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