Steve Marion, staff writer at The Standard Banner, discusses a solar collection project planned for New Market. This $200 million solar farm has potential to serve as a "platform" for major business development in East Tennessee.
John Kemp, Southeast Solar Development Manager for E.ON, the largest investor-owned utility in the world, said the company is excited about working with Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Electric Cooperative, and the local Economic Development Alliance on plans for the $200 million solar farm on both sides of Highway 11E at Whitaker Road.
The project, which would cover about 200 acres, would be 40 times larger than the AEC solar farm less than a mile away. Other than the injection of 40 megawatts of renewable power into the TVA grid, the value of the project for the local community lies in its potential to draw other business developments interested in green power, said Kemp.
E.ON Climate and Renewables North America is moving into the Southeast after placing most of its solar investment in the West. Two solar projects totaling 80 megawatts are planned for the Dothan, Alabama, area, said Kemp. A total of seven major solar installations are planned in the Tennessee Valley area, including one in Roane County.
Kemp said construction on the solar farm should begin next year. The company is entering into a long-term lease with the property owners. The closest East Tennessee solar farm in size is the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, but this one would be four times larger.
The solar farm would be located on three property parcels, one on the east side of Highway 11E at Whitaker Road (76 acres) and two others totaling about 113 acres on the west side of Highway 11E extending to Old Andrew Johnson Highway.