Tag Archives: solar

Bredesen-backed Company Launches Solar Venture

Silicon Ranch, the solar venture tied to former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and his economic development team, has begun work on what it says will be the state’s largest privately owned solar installation, according to the Nashville Business Journal.
The $5 million, 1.4 megawatt solar power plant in Pulaski will ultimately be part of a larger Pulaski Energy Park, according to a statement from the company. That park, set for construction on 25 acres owned by Silicon Ranch, will include classrooms, administrative and service space, according to the company.
Executives cast the move as a step forward in the green economy.
“Our intent is to provide low-cost solar energy with a focus on creating green jobs and increasing capital investments in clean energy here in our state,” Matt Kisber, president and CEO, said in a statement.
The facility is the first deal the company has made public since its formation. In August, the Nashville Business Journal revealed the company’s business model, following quiet maneuvering by Kisber and his team that first became publicly known as Bredesen, a Democrat, left office.

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 (http://bit.ly/ryauvP). 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.”

State-Subsidized Solar Industry Falls on Hard Times

Hemlock Clarksville and a similar plant that Wacker Chemie AG is building near Cleveland, Tenn., are supposed to be the first steps toward the development of a vibrant solar industry in Tennessee, one in which solar panels and all of their components could be made within the state, reports Chas Sisk.
But the odds that will happen in the near future are slim, despite the tens of millions the state has committed toward the solar industry’s success.
…This year, three major solar panel makers have gone out of business, including California-based Solyndra, which is now under investigation after receiving more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees. Surviving companies have scrapped plans or merged with others.
Tennessee has not been safe from the volatility. Confluence Solar, a Missouri-based solar company that was supposed to be setting up the state’s third major silicon plant, was bought last month. Its new owner has already said it will not be opening a facility in Tennessee.
Bredesen had trumpeted the Confluence deal as evidence the Hemlock and Wacker deals were laying the groundwork for Tennessee’s future. Now, the Haslam administration will say only that it believes solar will play some role in the state’s economy, alongside more traditional industries.
“Our philosophy is all about creating a great business climate for every business,” state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. ” ‘Optimistic’ is the word that we have right now (for the solar industry).”
..Exactly how much Tennessee has committed to solar is difficult to quantify. Earlier this month, the State Building Commission approved $36.1 million in bonds and cash for construction of Wacker’s Cleveland facility, but that represents only a sliver of the state’s total commitment.
After analyzing agreements with Wacker and Hemlock, the Nashville Business Journal last month estimated the state’s current and future commitments to both projects to be $328 million, a figure that an ECD spokesman could not confirm.