MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The Tennessee Valley Authority is getting closer to completing its Allen Natural Gas Plant in southwest Shelby County, but it’s not the only leap into clean and renewable energy TVA is unveiling.
When TVA flipped the switch on a new one megawatt solar array in early August, officials knew that even a few cloudy days wouldn’t slow down their goal of embracing cleaner, more renewable energy.
“This produces enough power for about 120 average homes,” says Scott Brooks with TVA public relations.
The roughly 3,100 solar panels are directly connected to the Allen Natural Gas Plant, which is still under construction. But the two are already working together after a big milestone just this past weekend.
“It’s what we call ‘first fire’, which means we actually turned the equipment on and produced power onto the grid for the first time,” says Brooks. “Construction [on the Allen Natural Gas Plant] is about 85% complete. These arrays produce power primarily to start with at the gas plant that’s under construction and then anything that’s left over that they don’t use goes out on the grid for consumers.”
This solar array is a small step in helping TVA find the right balance of energy production moving forward.
“Not only natural gas, but solar, nuclear, coal. Everything is an important part of the mix,” says Brooks. “Bringing cleaner generation like natural gas online is a big deal for us.”
With the solar array and natural gas plant set to replace the current Allen Fossil Plant in 2018, TVA knows the environmental impact will be significant based on past successes.
“Places like Knoxville that used to have issues with attainment of air quality, they’re now for the first time in a long time consistently within attainment of the air emissions,” says Brooks.