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Alabama Solar Energy Farm Announced

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, February 13, 2015

TVA Announces 80 MegaWatt Solar Farm in Lauderdale County Alabama

At their quarterly board meeting, the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Valley Authority moved Thursday, February 12, 2015, to adopt resolutions which would allow TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson to:

  • Establish a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with NextEra for electricity from its planned 80MW solar farm in Lauderdale County, AL. The installation would be significantly larger than any existing solar facility in the Tennessee Valley.


  • Acquire for $340 Million Quantum Utility Generation’s Choctaw combined cycle Natural Gas (NatGas) plant near Ackerman, MS. TVA has been buying power from the 760MW plant since 2008. This would be TVA’s sixth combined cycle plant, with two more under construction, all since 2007.

Confidential terms of the agreements were not released.

Concerning the NatGas plant, Mr. Johnson said, “We can purchase the gas plant for substantially less than it would cost to build one, and the solar power is at a price competitive with other energy sources.”

The board unanimously approved the purchase of Quantum Utility Generation’s 760MW Choctaw combined-cycle power plant near Ackerman, MS, for about $340mn, or $447/kW, half the cost to build a new gas plant, according TVA Chief Operating Officer Charles Pardee.

TVA has bought most of the output of the Choctaw gas plant since 2008. If the deal closes, Choctaw will be the sixth combined-cycle gas plant TVA has purchased or built since 2007. Two more combined cycle plants are under construction.

Since 2007, TVA has built or bought five combined-cycle gas plants with 3,900 megawatts of capacity. In the past year, the agency has approved construction of two more gas plants to replace aging coal-fired plants.

He also noted that TVA has created “27,400 jobs and about $2.8 Billion in capital investments for the region so far this year.” Over the past five years, TVA’s total Economic Development Impact has been about 300,000 jobs and $35 Billion in capital investment.

The facility will be built near TVA’s Colbert Fossil Plant, which TVA is retiring in 2016. Johnson said the location will allow the solar facility to take advantage of the existing transmission system.

The NextEra Energy Resources River Bend Solar facility would be built on a 600-acre tract of land known as the Dillehunt Farm in the western part of Lauderdale county off Lauderdale County Road 62 near the Oakland community.

Location of area of NextEra/TVA Solar Energy facility

Location showing area of NextEra/TVA Solar Energy facility in Lauderdale County, Alabama off County Road 62

Dan Gibbs, Senior Rates and System Planning Engineer at Decatur Utilities, said an 80 MW solar power facility would produce about 7.3% of the net capacity of one unit at TVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. Each of the plant’s three units has a 1,100 MW capacity.

For perspective, the Volkswagen manufacturing plant in Chattanooga has a capacity of 9.5 Million Watts, or 9.5 MegaWatts (MW). This TVA facility and operation will be nearly 10x larger.

TVA will pay about $61 per MWh over the 20-year life of the agreement, which is competitive with the $59 per megawatt-hour the utility expects to pay for energy at a Quantum Choctaw natural gas power plant at Ackerman, MS.

The NextEra contract starts at $42/MWh and escalates 5%/year during the contract.

In comparison, round-the-clock assessments for the 2016-20 calendar strips average $36/MWh in the Virginia-Carolinas sub-region to the east of TVA and $31/MWh in Southern Co’s service territory, to the south of TVA.

Director Virginia Lodge, who said she supports TVA’s increased use of solar power, voted against the NextEra contract because it was not part of a competitive bidding process.

TVA is nation’s largest public utility, and currently has 128MW of operating solar installations, which are mostly small installations. Chief Operating Office Chip Pardee said this will be TVA’s first solar installation that produces more than 20MW, and will pay about $61 per megawatt-hour over the life of the agreement.

Including the hydro power generated from TVA’s 29 power generating dams, TVA got only 13% of its generation last year from renewable sources.

TVA is buying the power from New Era because as a private company New Era will qualify for 30 percent investment tax credits under the federal tax code incentives for solar power. As a federal corporation, TVA does not benefit by such tax credits. Mr. Johnson said as long as such federal tax credits are available for solar generation, it will be cheaper for TVA to buy power from other generators than to build its own solar facilities.

Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said solar power “is an important resource for our region’s economic and job growth and it needs to be more fully incorporated into TVA’s system. Alabama has tremendous solar potential, and we welcome this positive development.”

NextEra Energy Resources, LLC operates in 22 states, and Canada, and is the largest generator in the United States of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and as of the end of 2011, owned and operated approximately 8,569 megawatts of wind and 158 megawatts of solar power generation. NextEra Energy Resources is a subsidiary of the Juno Beach, FL-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE).

Recently, Google signed a PPA with NextEra to provide 43 MegaWatts (MW) through their Golden Hills wind farm, located near Livermore, CA, to supply their North Bayshore building in Mountain View.


One Response to “Alabama Solar Energy Farm Announced”

  1. […] not to worry, TVA is building a Solar Collection Electrical Generating Facility in Lauderdale County, Alabama which will make Volkswagen’s facility at their Chattanooga plant pale by […]


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