Two 1-megawatt solar projects are largest yet in TVA region

1 MW solar farm in Georgia installed by ESA Renewables
1 MW solar farm in Georgia installed by ESA Renewables

Renewable energy continues its expansion in the Southeast with the recent unveiling of two 1-megawatt solar farms in Tennessee and Georgia. Each is the largest solar energy project in the history of its state, but more importantly, these facilities continue the recent trend of economic growth through renewable energy markets in the Southeast.

Combine these two new solar farms with the renewable energy investments that we reported on last month, and it’s easy to see how solar energy generation and manufacturing is quickly establishing itself as an economic driver here in the Southeast.

On January 27th, A ribbon-cutting event unveiled a more than 1-megawatt (MW) solar farm at the American Drive Business Park in Jackson, TN. This system consists of 4,914 polycrystalline solar modules that were manufactured in nearby Memphis, TN by Sharp Manufacturing Company. Tennessee’s new governor, Bill Haslam, spoke at the commissioning event, touting former Governor Bredesen’s accomplishments in bringing the solar industry to Tennessee and highlighting the need to continue supporting the industry. SACE is hopeful that he will continue to champion solar as he did when he was Mayor of Knoxville.

Governor Haslam and TVA's CEO Tom Kilgore install the final solar panel at the 1 MW commissioning in Jackson, TN. Credit: EETN 
Governor Haslam and TVA’s CEO Tom Kilgore install the final solar panel at the 1 MW commissioning in Jackson, TN. Credit: EETN

Also participating in the ribbon-cutting event was CEO of  TVA, Tom Kilgore, and Tennessee’s Director of Energy Policy, Ryan Gooch. As part of the ceremony, both Kilgore and Haslam installed the final solar module with Robbie Thomas, president of the installation company Efficient Energy of Tennessee.

The solar facility has a capacity of 1,047 kilowatts (kW), producing enough energy to power about 250 homes in addition to the on-site Business Center. The system connects to the local power grid (Jackson Energy Authority) and is part of TVA’s Generation Partners Program, where TVA purchases the electricity produced at $0.12 above retail rate per kilowatt hour. This program, along with state and federal incentives for solar power, have led to a nearly six-fold increase in solar power generation in Tennessee in just one year.

EETN's 1 MW outside of Knoxville, TN
EETN’s 1 MW outside of Knoxville, TN

The Jackson, TN solar facility is the second 1-megawatt system installed by Efficient Energy of Tennessee (EETN) in the past year. They were also responsible for the state’s first 1 MW system that was commissioned last August just outside of Knoxville.

We are thrilled to see EETN’s hard work come to fruition through this exciting project in Jackson. This array will benefit all the people in the Tennessee Valley Authority Region because it increases the percentage of their power that comes from renewable sources and reduces their dependence on petroleum-based utility power,” said Eric Hafter, Senior Vice President, Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group in Sharp’s press release.

Meridian, the development company that owns the business park, said this is their first venture into solar power generation. ”We expect this investment to be one of our huge successes,” said Michael Katz, managing director of Meridian in a My San Antonio article. “Sustainability is important to us. Aligning business and public policy goals are possible.”

In addition to the project in Tennessee, a 1 MW solar farm in Blairsville, GA, announced on January 24th, will be the largest privately-owned ground mounted connected system in Georgia (see first picture). The project, which will sit on nearly five acres, also participates in TVA’s Generation Partners and will use 4,300 Suniva monocrystalline solar panels and four of Advanced Energy’s 260kW PV Powered inverters to generate approximately 1,303,000 kWh of energy each year. Like the 1 MW in Tennessee, this project also used locally manufactured solar modules as Suniva is located in Atlanta, GA.

The project is being managed by ESA Renewables, LLC. ESA President, Jeffrey Burkett recognized the project as a significant step forward for the development of the clean energy industry in Georgia: “Solar has gained momentum in the U.S. and we believe our global expertise and resources in providing turnkey PV projects add exceptional value. Meanwhile, we are supporting various sectors of the solar industry while creating new job opportunities for the local economy.”

SACE has long been aware of the environmental and public health benefits of clean, renewable solar energy, but its capacity as an engine of economic growth is particularly important as we struggle to recover from the “Great Recession.” We applaud the political leaders, public citizens and innovative companies that are making solar energy a reality here in the South.

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Believe me when I say I am very much in favor of being a good steward over our planet but this article is nothing more than preposturous hype. Please tell me and the the rest of our citizens how many millions of acres it would take to provide energy to even ten percent of our housing and industry. Start figuring and you will find it astronomical. Wind and solar or any other alternative will never do anything except to add an increase to our light bills as they are always in the same hands that bill us now. Coal and fuel oil may at the present time not be as clean but just one plant on a very few acres produces enough power for thousands of homes and businesses because their effecientcy. Think about it!! At least a little.

Comment by Don Adkins on February 16, 2011 5:18 pm

I must disagree with you, wind generally and solar prices in some locations are now competing with traditional generation on cost. As for the footprint, wind in many locations allow farming and other activity to coexist with the turbines, you will see much of the solar development on rooftops or lots that are already disturbed. Of course your “one plant on a very few acres” fails to take into account the vast disturbance of mountain top and strip mining that coal requires and the air pollution plume that spreads for miles from these plants. We do think about this everyday.

Comment by Dr. Stephen A. Smith on February 16, 2011 7:52 pm


You seem to be operating on old information. Wind and Solar have already been adopted on a world scale (

We in the TVA region have an unrealistic perception on how “cheap” fossil fuels are. As Dr. Smith points out the economic, environmental, and social costs of coal are widely under reported.

I agree with you that solar should utilize the existing roof space but you must come to grips with the fact that solar will be an asset in addressing peak demand times.

Comment by Annette Gomberg on February 23, 2011 11:40 am

I agree with Ms. Gomberg and Dr. Smith, companies like ESA Renewables,, are making an environmental and financial difference in providing not just ground-mounted solar farms but rooftop energy generating systems as well. Alternative energy sources are a MUST for our future on all “cost” fronts: economic, environmental and social.

Comment by Maureen McHale on June 13, 2011 1:18 pm

Many countries in Europe and the mediterranean are approaching or have already passed price parity per kwh for solar power in relation to fossil fuels. The more big projects like this in the states the more the price will come down world wide. Perhaps its just a difference between US and European domestic energy consumption but only only 250 homes to be powered by 1,000 kilowatts sounds quite low to me.

Comment by Suhagra Ragnar Mital on September 19, 2011 11:39 am

Solar panels are very useful and can be seen at many homes.Its very relevant energy source which help in saving the money for the electricity bills and we can also be independent on energy with the help of these solar panels.

Comment by Solar panels georgia on November 1, 2011 5:37 am

The Southeast has a disproportionate share of air pollution problems. Ten of the top 25 cities most polluted with smog (ozone) are located in the Southeast. The health and livelihoods of more than 36 million Americans are severely threatened. Pollution from dirty coal-fired power plants significantly contributes to poor air quality. The lives of nearly 10,000 people are cut-short every year due to particulate matter pollution. This pollution causes ecological harm by inhibiting plant growth, changing acidity in soil and damaging plants.

Comment by Bill Branham on November 2, 2011 5:14 pm

The solar facility has a capacity of 1,047 kilowatts (kW), producing enough energy to power about 250 homes in addition to the on-site Business Center. T – See more at:

Comment by Bill Branham on June 23, 2013 12:14 pm

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