BrightRidge flips switch on solar farm

Robert Houk • May 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Mark and Teri Faver’s wait for sustainable energy to power their home ended earlier this year when the Tri-Cities region’s first community solar farm went online. The couple, who live just minutes way from the 40-acre facility in Telford, were the second residential customers to sign up for BrightRidge’s solar program.

They were also on hand Tuesday to watch officials from BrightRidge, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Silicon Ranch Corp. ceremonially “flip the switch” on the new 5-megawatt solar farm. The 41,760 solar panels at the facility became operational in January, and can produce enough energy to power more than 500 homes annually.

“I believe in renewable green energy,” said Faver, who owns a heating and cooling business in Telford. “We rent 10 kilowatts of electricity a month. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

Ken Roberts, who is also an early residential customer of the solar program, was one of the speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony. Roberts told the crowd he has changed his entire lifestyle — from what he eats to what he drives — in pursuit of clean and sustainable energy.

“I’ve been waiting for this day my entire life,” he said.

BrightRidge officials said 87% of the facility’s community solar production has been allocated to subscribing commercial and residential customers. Jeff Dykes, BrightRidge’s chief executive officer, said the demand for renewable energy is growing among his utility’s customers.

“We at BrightRidge are very pleased where the company is going,” he said.”Our industry is changing fast, and this facility is an example of that.” 

The solar panels, which electronically track the sun throughout the day, are located off Miller Road between Jonesborough and Telford. A transmission line has been established to Tenn. Highway 34.

The facility, which is owned and operated by Nashville-based Silicon Ranch, allows BrightRidge to offer its customers access to a sustainable and renewable energy source capable of generating 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Jim Bausell, Silicon Ranch’s executive vice president for business development, said the solar farm is a public/private partnership and represents a “transformative moment for the community.”

He said businesses across the nation are looking for similar partnerships in renewable energy.

“There is a tremendous growth in green energy,”  Bausell said. “Companies know this is what their customers are looking for.”

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