The largest solar farm in the state of Tennessee is now operational at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South in Millington. The innovative project is the result of a unique public-private partnership that brought together the City of Millington, the U.S. Navy, Memphis, Light, Gas and Water (MLGW), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Silicon Ranch Corporation with a shared vision to support the local community and the naval base.
Nashville-based Silicon Ranch, the U.S. solar platform for Shell and one of America's largest independent solar power producers, employed more than 300 people to construct the 53 megawatt (MWAC) facility and will provide reliable, resilient power to the NSA Mid-South and TVA at cost-competitive rates for the next twenty years. As part of the unique partnership, Silicon Ranch signed a long-term lease with the U.S. Navy for 72 acres of base land and purchased an adjacent 348 acres from the Millington Industrial Development Board (MIDB).
While the majority of the solar array is located on the adjacent private land, the naval installation received a brand new alternative electrical feed that will increase energy security and resilience at NSA Mid-South. This feature enables the installation's more than 6,500 personnel to focus on their mission at the Navy's Human Resources Center of Excellence. The project also illustrates the value of divesting Navy land that isn't crucial to an installation's mission and could be redeveloped through partnerships to benefit the Navy and the surrounding community.
Underscoring the significance of the landmark project, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said, "Partnerships fuel innovation, and we are proud of the work by community leaders, the U.S. Navy, and Silicon Ranch to expand solar technology in West Tennessee. We look forward to a continued partnership as we strengthen rural Tennessee, modernize our infrastructure, and prepare for the jobs of the future."
NSA Mid-South Commanding Officer Capt. Alonza "Al" Ross said, "This solar project represents progress toward our goal of becoming the Navy's premier installation through maintaining excellence in our facilities and services. It enhances our ability to manage our most important asset—our people—and helps us perform the critical function of supporting warfighter capabilities and readiness."
Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Matt Kisber, who previously served eight (8) years as Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, said, "This innovative energy project is the result of a truly collaborative effort, and Silicon Ranch thanks our partners at the U.S. Navy, TVA, MLGW, and the MIDB for making this investment possible. We are especially honored to commission the largest solar facility in our home state of Tennessee and to support the mission of both NSA Mid-South and TVA."
TVA Vice President of Commercial Energy Solutions Doug Perry said, "TVA recognizes that renewable energy is a tremendous asset in terms of economic and environmental benefits. With more than 50 percent of our generating portfolio carbon-free, the NSA Mid-South solar installation reflects TVA's ongoing commitment to a diversified, cleaner energy mix that best serves the power needs of nearly 10 million residents of the Tennessee Valley."
MLGW President and CEO J.T. Young said, "This project leveraged public-private partnerships to deliver a comprehensive solution that addresses the Navy's energy security goals at NSA Mid-South. MLGW is pleased to have worked with Silicon Ranch, the MIDB, the Department of the Navy, and TVA to make this project a success."
Millington Mayor Terry Jones said, "Today marks an important milestone for our community. NSA Mid-South provides an annual economic impact of more than $700 million to this area, and we are grateful for the cooperation and teamwork by Silicon Ranch, TVA, MLGW, and our Industrial Development Board to support this critical naval base and bring utility-scale solar energy to Millington."
With more than 525,000 solar panels serving as a visual backdrop, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Facilities) James B. Balocki and Millington Mayor Terry Jones, along with additional representatives from Silicon Ranch, TVA, MLGW, and the U.S. Navy, hosted a ceremonial "flip the switch" event earlier today to celebrate the project's commissioning.
In addition to state, local, and Navy officials, a delegation from the Millington Municipal School District was also on hand to witness the dedication ceremony. Following the event, students from the Millington Middle School STEM Robotics team received a special tour of the solar facility.
Silicon Ranch | siliconranch.com
Tennessee Valley Authority | http://www.tva.gov
MLGW | http://www.mlgw.com