Thanks to a new agreement between EPB and TVA, community solar power may now be coming to Chattanooga in a big way.
The EPB board of trustees voted unanimously on Friday to move forward on a partnership with TVA to launch Solar Share, a pilot program designed to be shared by the community to generate 1.35 megawatts of energy every year.
Solar Share will be EPB’s first power generation project, a rare case of an energy distributor actually producing electricity itself.
Under the proposed plan, EPB would sell the electricity produced directly to TVA.
Neil Placer, TVA Renewable Energy Solutions senior manager, said, “With EPB, we’ve developed an innovative approach to community solar generation that gives local people multiple ways to participate.”
He said, “The future is bright for solar energy, and TVA is proud of its partnership with EPB.”
A shared and community solar project offers a number of advantages over individual investments in solar power because it functions as a shared resource. The community invests together making the installation both more feasible and more productive.
While homeowners who would like to invest in solar energy may encounter problems ranging from exorbitant upfront costs to the unsuitability of their own property for solar, Solar Share largely negates those issues, it was stated.
EPB President and CEO Harold DePriest said, “Solar Share is like the mass transit of solar power generation. Just as taking the bus to work is more environmentally sustainable, community solar power generation provides tremendous benefit.”
Customers will be given several options to determine their own participation in Solar Share and the company is developing a portfolio of options for customers while exploring how to best move forward on the actual construction.
EPB officials hope that Solar Share will provide energy for approximately 125 homes and they estimate the project will cost approximately $2.5 million. They also estimate that the long term investment will be paid for after 14 years of energy production.
Though an exact location has not yet been determined, EPB is exploring several options, including an operations facility on Holtzclaw Avenue.