Vanderbilt University going green with new solar power deal

An agreement announced last week between Nashville Electric Service, Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Valley Authority will bring new, large-scale renewable energy to the Tennessee Valley through TVA’s Green Invest program.

The partnership is the first of its kind under the new program, which matches demand for green power from large business and industrial customers with renewable projects.

The Green Invest program is modeled on TVA’s work with Facebook and Google, beginning in 2018, to identify new renewable energy for the data centers locating in the region. Green Invest is now available to local power companies and business and industry customers across TVA’s service territory. The program leverages long-term agreements to build new, large-scale renewable energy installations in the Valley through a competitive bid process.

TVA awarded Nashville-based solar developer Silicon Ranch a contract to build, own, and operate a 35-megawatt installation in Bedford County, Tennessee, pending completion of environmental review. Additional Green Invest announcements resulting from TVA’s 2019 request for renewable energy proposals are anticipated in coming weeks.

“Silicon Ranch and TVA have forged a strong partnership through the successful development of more than 30 solar projects across the Valley, and it is our sincere honor to expand our relationship with TVA,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and Chairman Matt Kisber.

“As a proud alumnus myself, along with several of our colleagues, we are especially proud to partner with Vanderbilt, and we applaud this world-class institution for its bold and thoughtful leadership. We wish to thank our partners at TVA, NES and Duck River Electric for making this innovative partnership possible.”

The solar installation is expected to come online in fall 2022, with planned interconnection to the grid through Duck River Electric Membership Corporation’s distribution system.

The collaboration highlights one way the Long-Term Partnership Agreement announced last year between TVA and local power companies enables innovative approaches to expanding renewable energy resources in the Tennessee Valley.

 “We are excited to enter into the first Green Invest agreement with a world-renowned university like Vanderbilt and our long-term partner NES, which is invested in the success of its customers,” said Jeff Lyash, TVA president and chief executive officer. “This solution is a model that can be used throughout the region as TVA helps drive the growth of renewable energy at all scales.”

In 2019, Vanderbilt announced its goal to power the campus entirely through renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2050. The Green Invest agreement, approved at NES’ board meeting today, will offset approximately 70 percent of the university’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions. This will be the equivalent of nearly 7,000 cars driven for one year or 5,000 homes utilizing electricity for one year, per the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator.

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