By ALLEN RAU
BrightRidge broke ground on the first solar community in the Tri-Cities along with its partners, TVA and Silicon Ranch on Friday morning outside Jonesborough.
“We are near the oldest town in Tennessee and we are getting ready to put in some of the newest things that are out there as far as solar farms,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes remarked at the ceremony.
Officials from all three partners were present to explain some details of the project.
According to the event press release, Silicon Ranch, Tennessee’s largest solar power producer, will own and operate the solar farm while TVA and BrightRidge will purchase the power it produces.
The completed project, 40 acres of land covered with 41,000 solar panels, will provide enough electricity to power over 500 homes per year, weather-permitting.
The entire facility is expected to generate 8 million KWh per year and will produce zero carbon emissions.
“Our industry is changing and it’s changing fast. Part of that change means that we at BrightRidge want to adapt and grow with it. We actually want to be out in front. The opportunity to be involved in the solar farm, the opportunity to provide our customers a solar community that they can participate in,” Dykes added.
He also announced that 500 kilowatts of power from the project will be offered to BrightRidge customers either through a monthly license or a 20 year license.
“Many of our commercial and residential customers are unable to access the benefits of solar because they can’t afford the cost of installation, live in multi-family buildings, or their rooftops cannot support the weight of solar panels,” Dykes said. “BrightRidge is pleased to lead the way with a community solar offering that provides access to all of our customers, regardless of circumstance, so they can purchase clean power direct without the expense and upkeep of installing panels on their private property.”
The power company’s website explains the monthly option as; “an affordable means to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without a large capital investment or the hassle of installing roof-top solar. The program offers no contracts or long-term commitment. Monthly credits will be reflected on your monthly energy bill.”
The 20-year license is described as; “the benefits of solar energy without the hassle of a construction project by participating in BrightRidge Solar. Your monthly energy bill will reflect credits equal to the amount of power generated by the panels you purchased.”
The facility will be constructed by McCarthy Building Companies, who will hire between 50 and 100 “mostly local” workers, the release stated. Construction is expected to be completed by January 2019.