Solar Farm Behind Schedule

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — The construction of a solar farm in West Tennessee has been delayed.
The West Tennessee Solar Farm in Haywood County is now expected to go online early next year, according to the Memphis Daily News ( The undertaking being spearheaded by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation was originally was scheduled to be completed this month.
Project manager Elliott Barnett of Signal Energy LLC of Chattanooga, which designed and is building the farm, blamed the delay on “the upgrade of the electrical lines that go from the solar farm to the Chickasaw Electric Cooperative substation.”
He said the substation is where the power will actually hook into the grid and about nine miles of line needed upgrading.
The solar panels by Interstate 40, which have been getting attention recently from passing motorists, were actually the easiest part of the project, he said.
“It was built for the purpose of generating revenue and serving as an example for the state furthering the whole sweep of renewable projects that we want to be a part of,” Barnett said. It is being financed with federal stimulus funding.
The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to buy power from the farm, and Barnett said it should generate about $100,000 in revenue each month.
The project won’t end there. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has future plans to develop an interstate exit and a center for visitors in the middle of the solar array.
Eric Rank, the general manager of Solar and Renewable Power Systems, said he thinks a visitors’ center would be a good way to keep the public informed on solar technology.
“They need to know how it operates. Everybody still thinks solar systems are based on the use of batteries,” he said. “There’s a lot of education that needs to be done.”

One thought on “Solar Farm Behind Schedule

  1. Eric Holcombe

    How much is the change order for replacing 9 miles of transmission lines? Doesn’t sound like this was planned, so what is the additional cost we should add to the original $31 million?
    Now they are claiming $100k revenue each month. Back in February, the claim was this plant would produce 7,000,000 kwh annually (for a simple payback of 45 years at current retail electricity rates with no maintenance costs, like 9 miles of line). With the new projected annual revenue of $1.2M, that amounts to $0.17/kwh – almost double current retail residential electricity rates.
    Who would pay $0.17/kwh when you can get it for $0.09/kwh? Oh yeah, that “independent, self-funding, federal agency” again. By the way, this new claimed revenue performance still requires a 26-year simple payback (with no maintenance costs or panel replacements).

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