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Investing in communities

Looking ahead to solar energy and reliability, looking inward to serve local nonprofits

Big solar plans in Logan County 

The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to build the largest solar power and storage project in its Kentucky service area. 

The new Logan County solar farm will provide Facebook’s regional data center operations with 145 megawatts of solar power and General Motors’ Bowling Green Assembly, exclusive home of the Chevrolet Corvette, with 28 megawatts of solar power. 

Facebook’s investment helps add 120 megawatt-hours of new battery storage technology, which the TVA says will increase the resilience of the power grid. TVA and Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation are partnering with Silicon Ranch to develop the project. 

“TVA’s Green Invest program is bringing together customers and renewable energy partners who are all investing in our communities,” says Chris Hansen, TVA vice president, Origination and Renewables. 

Warren RECC President and CEO Dewayne McDonald says the project shows the co-op’s commitment to developing innovative solutions. “We are proud to be the first electric cooperative in the Tennessee Valley to sign a Green Invest agreement,” he says. “The Warren RECC service territory is an industry hub, and we continue to take bold steps to help make our community a competitive location for businesses that are pursuing environmental goals.” 

The solar and storage facility is about 30 miles from GM’s Bowling Green Assembly plant and less than 50 miles from Facebook’s Gallatin (Tennessee) Data Center. It will be Facebook’s first renewable energy project in Kentucky. 

Plans for the Logan County facility include restoring the land to a functioning grassland ecosystem while keeping the property in agricultural production through managed sheep grazing. 

A boost for Owensboro nonprofits 

Big Rivers Electric Corporation and IBEW Local 1701 present a donation to the Hayden Home for Girls, Owensboro. From left, St. Joseph Peace Mission Board Chair David Marshall, Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson, St. Joseph Peace Mission board member Kathleen Hayden McFadden, Big Rivers President & CEO Bob Berry, St. Joseph’s Peace Mission President Paula Yevincy, and IBEW Local 1701 Business Manager Nathan Knott and Chief Union Steward Tim West. Photo: Jennifer Keach

Big Rivers Electric Corporation and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1701 partnered in May to donate a total of $25,000 to two Owensboro nonprofit agencies. 

The Daniel Pitino Shelter in Owensboro serves as a safe and secure place for homeless families, working to break the cycle of homelessness through emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing. 

The Hayden Home for Girls at St. Joseph Peace Mission for Children, Owensboro, is a long-term facility for girls ages 12 to 18, including those who are pregnant or parenting. Programs focus on individual and family therapy, mental health, nutrition, social skills, relationship building, daily living skills and education.

Co-ops stress reliability 

As the Biden administration calls for carbon-free electricity by 2035 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, electric cooperatives are raising concerns about how those plans will affect local co-op consumer-members. 

Pathways to achieving the White House’s carbon reduction goals must “ensure the availability of affordable, reliable electricity to every community, including the rural communities electric cooperatives serve,” the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) says in comments filed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

As federal regulators explore challenges related to electric system reliability, NRECA recommends they evaluate economic and technical issues alongside climate and extreme weather, rather than in isolation. The association also stressed the importance of local solutions to grid issues. 

“These changes are interrelated, and they should be evaluated together when identifying and addressing risks to electric system reliability,” the NRECA says. 

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