JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- The Tri-Cities region will soon be home to the first community solar project in Northeast Tennessee. The public may even get the chance to lease or own some of the panels to help off-set their electricity bills.
The Johnson City Power Board was one of only four local power companies selected by the Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, for the solar generation project. JCPB is working with solar developer Silicon Ranch Corporation to build and co-own a 40-50 acre plant, which could be located in Washington County.
“This is an important development for our region,” said JCPB CEO Jeff Dykes. “By engaging with potential solar developers on the front end, JCPB gains a foothold in the solar generation market as the region gains its first larger scale community solar project.”
Dykes said about 400 homes or businesses could also get the chance to lease or own some solar panels through the community solar project. “When they purchase that panel or a portion of it based on the size of their home and needs then each month if that panel generated a certain amount of kilowatt hours that would come off of their bill at their home,” Dykes said.
Dick Nelson, owner of Nelson Fine Art, installed 63 solar panels on the roof of his business about five years ago. “My electric bill since then went from being $700-$900 a month to being anywhere from a negative amount to a couple hundred dollars.” He spent several thousand dollars on his project and thinks a community solar farm could be beneficial to homeowners.
Dykes said it would make renewable energy more affordable to homeowners. “This will be a way of really reducing some of those costs so they can participate.”
“Silicon Ranch is proud to work with Johnson City Power Board and TVA on this important renewable energy project,” said Silicon Ranch President and CEO Matt Kisber. “The leadership at JCPB deserve tremendous credit for their vision and commitment to bring the economic and environmental benefits of solar power to their customers.” A timeline for construction is still being developed.
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