Silicon Ranch to develop first utility-scale solar project under expanded TVA program

Silicon Ranch MTE Copeland solar project TVA
From left: Chris Jones, President and CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) and Reagan Farr, CEO and cofounder of Silicon Ranch, sign agreement.

Nashville-based Silicon Ranch has signed an agreement to develop a 110 MW solar project for Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE), the largest electric cooperative in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) region and the second largest in the United States.

The Copeland Solar Farm will be the first utility-scale solar project under TVA’s Expanded Generation Flexibility Program, which allows local power companies to access and directly procure utility-scale solar projects located outside of their distribution service territories. 

“Silicon Ranch pioneered utility-scale solar in the region and remains the undisputed market leader, with more than 40 operational solar facilities in the Tennessee Valley,” said Silicon Ranch chief commercial officer Matt Beasley. “Despite this long track record over more than a dozen years, the Copeland Solar Farm is unique in that it will be the largest solar facility to serve a local power company directly in the region, and perhaps more importantly, it is the first ever signed under TVA’s newly expanded Generation Flexibility Program.”

On behalf of MTE, Silicon Ranch will fund, construct, own, operate and maintain the 110 MWac Copeland Solar Farm in Cumberland County, Tennessee. Once construction is completed in late 2027, MTE will receive the power and environmental attributes generated by the facility to benefit the more than 750,000 Tennesseans the cooperative serves across 11 counties.

“Because we are owned by the members we serve, MTE is constantly seeking new ways to deliver value and to meet their evolving needs and expectations,” said Chris Jones, president and CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric. “As part of this effort, our team worked closely with TVA to update the Generation Flexibility Program.”

As both the landowner and operator, Silicon Ranch will remain invested in and committed to the continued success and economic viability of Cumberland County and the surrounding community for decades to come. Silicon Ranch is making a significant investment to install the Copeland Solar Farm, and over time, the project will generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for Cumberland County to support local infrastructure and schools, among other community-identified priorities.

The TVA’s recently expanded Generation Flexibility Program enables each of the 153 local power companies (LPCs) across TVA’s service territory (which includes parts of seven states) to generate up to 5% of their own power. TVA recently issued new guidelines for the program, which launched in June 2020 and enables participating LPCs to generate up to 5% of their total energy load to meet the renewable energy goals of their customers and further diversify their energy mix with low-cost and reliable clean energy. Version 2.0 of the program allows LPCs to access and directly procure utility-scale solar projects located outside of their distribution service territories that interconnect with TVA’s transmission system across the region.

Through this program, Silicon Ranch was selected by MTE through a competitive process managed by a third-party consultant. The two middle Tennessee businesses have agreed to partner on the 110-megawatt (MWAC) Copeland Solar Farm, which will be the largest solar facility to serve a local power company (LPC) directly in the Tennessee Valley.

“At Silicon Ranch, our number one priority is to support stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities through the work that we do, and this mission aligns perfectly with the ethos of America’s electric cooperatives,” said Matt Kisber, cofounder and chairman of Silicon Ranch.

To celebrate the milestone agreement, Silicon Ranch hosted a signing ceremony at the company’s headquarters in downtown Nashville with senior officials from MTE and TVA.

“TVA’s Generation Flexibility Program is extremely popular because it helps our LPC partners use renewable energy to lower costs and provide economic benefit to their community,” said Justin Maierhofer, regional VP at TVA.

— Solar Builder magazine



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