Vanderbilt University flips the switch on 35 MW solar farm

Vanderbilt solar

Silicon Ranch Corp. joined Vanderbilt University, Nashville Electric Service (NES) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to “flip the switch” on the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, a 35 MWac facility located in Bedford County, Tennessee.

First announced in 2020, the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm is the result of a landmark agreement as the first project contracted under TVA’s nationally recognized Green Invest program, which matches demand for green power from diverse commercial, industrial and institutional customers with new utility-scale solar projects located in the Tennessee Valley.

Nashville-based Silicon Ranch developed and funded the project and hired more than 250 craft workers to build the solar facility. The company will also serve as the long-term owner and operator, a disciplined approach Silicon Ranch takes with every project it develops.

“The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm demonstrates what is possible when we work together with a shared vision for the region, and Silicon Ranch is grateful to Vanderbilt for its leadership and to TVA and NES for their strong support of this meaningful renewable energy investment in Bedford County,” said Matt Kisber, cofounder and chairman of Silicon Ranch. “I am a proud alumnus of Vanderbilt, as are many of our colleagues, and we are thrilled to dedicate this meaningful project today.”

As both the landowner and operator, Silicon Ranch will remain invested in and committed to the continued success and economic viability of the surrounding community. The company invested more than $50 million to install the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, and over the years to come, the project will generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for Bedford County to support local infrastructure and schools, among other community-identified priorities.

“The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm not only represents a major step toward our own goals at Vanderbilt, but also provides a model of collaborative, forward-thinking solutions that we hope other higher educational institutions will adopt and replicate across this country,” said Daniel Diermeier, chancellor of Vanderbilt University. “We look forward to the educational and research opportunities this project and our pursuit of carbon neutrality will yield for our faculty and students at Vanderbilt.”

In 2022, Silicon Ranch also donated 30 acres of its project site to the city of Shelbyville and Bedford County to support the recruitment of Duksan Eletera America Inc. Later that year, Gov. Bill Lee joined state and local officials to welcome Duksan Electera, which is investing $95 million to locate its first manufacturing facility in North America, which will create more than 100 new jobs.

“TVA is proud to dedicate the first project ever developed under our Green Invest program, and we are thrilled to do so with NES and Silicon Ranch,” said Justin Maierhofer, regional VP at TVA. “Together with 153 local power company partners, TVA is building the energy system of the future, and Green Invest positions us to bring together customers and renewable energy partners who are investing in communities across the Tennessee Valley.”

The solar facility represents a significant step by Vanderbilt University toward the ambitious goal it announced in 2019 to power its campus entirely through renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2050. The renewable generation from the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm will offset approximately 70% of Vanderbilt University’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of enough power to help serve more than 6,000 homes for one year.

“As one of the 11 largest utilities in the nation, NES is committed to listening to the needs of our customers, and the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm illustrates our ability to innovate in response to help our customers achieve their desired outcomes,” said Teresa Broyles-Aplin, president and CEO of NES.

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