In 2020, Vanderbilt, located in Nashville, Tennessee, announced two pioneering agreements with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Nashville Electric Service to procure renewable energy from a solar farm being built by Silicon Ranch Corp. The switch has now been flipped on the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, a 35 MW facility in Bedford County, Tennessee.
Silicon Ranch Corporation, which is also based in Nashville and is one of the nation’s largest independent power producers, developed and funded the project and hired more than 250 workers during construction. The company will also serve as the long-term owner and operator. The project is expected to generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for Bedford County to support local infrastructure and schools, among other community-identified priorities.
“The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm demonstrates what is possible when we work together with a shared vision for the region, and Silicon Ranch is grateful to Vanderbilt for its leadership and to TVA for its strong support of this meaningful renewable energy investment in Bedford County,” said Matt Kisber, co-founder and chairman of Silicon Ranch.
The solar facility is a significant step by Vanderbilt University toward its goal, announced in 2019, to power its campus entirely through renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2050. The renewable generation from the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm will offset approximately 70% of Vanderbilt University’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, or enough to power more than 6,000 homes for one year.
“The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm not only represents a major step toward our own goals at Vanderbilt, but also provides a model of collaborative, forward-thinking solutions that we hope other higher educational institutions will adopt and replicate across this country,” said Daniel Diermeier, chancellor of Vanderbilt University. “We look forward to the educational and research opportunities this project and our pursuit of carbon neutrality will yield for our faculty and students at Vanderbilt. We thank Silicon Ranch, NES, and TVA for supporting us on this bold journey.”
TVA, serves 10 million people across an 80,000 square mile territory in the southeast U.S., extending beyond its home state borders. The company stated goals of targeting up to 10 GW of solar by 2035, and more than 200,000 EVs on roadways by 2028. The utility expects to have about 2.8 GW of solar in TVA operation by 2024.
Silicon Ranch said that the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm is the result of a landmark agreement as the first project contracted under TVA’s nationally recognized Green Invest program, which matches demand for green power from diverse commercial, industrial, and institutional customers with new utility-scale solar projects located in the Tennessee Valley. TVA said its Green Invest program has led to nearly $3 billion in solar investments since 2018. A large driver of growth in this program is through contracts with large corporations like Google, Meta (Facebook), and others.
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