TVA signs power purchase deals for two 20-MW solar farms

Strata Solar LLC is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Pickwick Electric Cooperative to develop the two largest solar energy installations in the Tennessee Valley near Selmer in McNairy County, Tenn.

Strata Solar will build and maintain two 20-MW solar farms interconnected to the TVA power system through Pickwick. TVA said Aug 1 that it will buy the electricity from the farms at market rates under its Renewable Standard Offer program.

“This project will add a tremendous amount of solar power to our already strong renewable lineup,” said Patty West, TVA director of Renewable Energy Programs. “Because TVA is purchasing the output at market rates, the electricity will also be among our cheapest solar power, moving us toward our vision of being a national leader in providing low-cost and cleaner energy.”

Current plans call for the solar farms to have more than 160,000 solar panels installed on over 300 acres. Each farm will be four times bigger than the largest current solar installation on the TVA system, which is the University of Tennessee’s 5-MW West Tennessee Solar Farm that opened in 2012 in Haywood County, Tenn.

“We are thrilled to be working with TVA and PEC on these pioneering solar projects,” said Markus Wilhelm, founder and CEO of Strata Solar. “The town of Selmer has been extremely welcoming to Strata and very helpful throughout the project planning.”

Karl Dudley, president of Pickwick Electric, said, “We are proud to be an integral part of TVA’s goal to build a stronger renewable portfolio. This project will also spur economic development in our area, and that is always a good thing.”

The Strata Solar projects have been accepted into TVA’s Renewable Standard Offer program, pending an environmental review and interconnection studies that must be completed before construction begins. TVA is accepting public comments on the environmental review through Aug. 13.

TVA currently owns or purchases more than 6,400 MW of renewable generation, including 77 MW of solar energy.

Strata Solar would construct, operate, and maintain two 20-MW DC photovoltaic (PV) solar power facilities, and the energy generated would be sold to the TVA under two 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs). The first facility would be located on about 168 acres at the Mulberry Farm site, and the second on approximately 158 acres at the Selmer Farm site, both within McNairy County.

The project would interconnect to the Pickwick Electric Cooperative’s Forest Hills substation and to TVA’s grid via a to-be-constructed interconnection point within the fence of the existing Selmer Switching Station (owned by the TVA’s distribution partner Pickwick Electric Cooperative). Two separate 1-mile long, 25-kV transmission lines would be strung on existing poles connecting both the Mulberry and Selmer Farm sites, delivering the generated power from the farms to the point of interconnection.

Strata Solar, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., is an integrated solar energy company that owns and operates commercial and utility scale solar energy systems. With over 150 MW commissioned and a gigawatt under development, Strata is one of the nation’s largest solar integrators.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.