(TNS) — By next summer, Chattanooga's city-owned power utility will be turning to the sun for part of its power.
EPB announced today it is awarding a $1.7 million contract to a partnership formed by Brown Construction Co. in Fayetteville, Tenn. — Tennessee Valley Alternative Energy — to build one of the first community solar power generation projects in the Tennessee Valley.
Known as Solar Share, the project is a partnership between EPB and the Tennessee Valley Authority to build a renewable power-generating facility at EPB's distribution center, located at the intersection of North Holtzclaw Avenue and Oak Street. This pilot project is expected to generate about 1.35 megawatts of renewable electric power, which is enough to meet the needs of about 200 homes.
"We look forward to working with Tennessee Valley Alternative Energy, to provide our customers with a reliable, environmentally-responsible energy source," EPB president David Wade said in a statement today. "Community solar power generation is the next step in leveraging Chattanooga's smart grid to deliver additional sources of power that fulfill our commitment to environmental stewardship."
Wade told the EPB board that solar is becoming more efficient and consumer interest in renewable power grows.
The contract awarded today will bring solar power for a contructed cost of about $1.28 per kilowatthour.
According to Tammy Bramlett, TVA Renewable Energy Solutions senior manager, her team has been working with EPB to structure Solar Share in a way that engages the community. EPB and TVA are still negotiating how customers may sign up and help pay for the new community solar project.
"With EPB, we've developed an innovative approach to community solar generation that gives local people multiple ways to participate," Bramlett said. "The future is bright for solar energy, and TVA is proud of its partnership with EPB."
The timetable for construction will be determined soon with work scheduled for completion by the summer of 2017.
©2016 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.