Solar Panels

Earlier in May, General Motors announced that its largest facility in North America, the Spring Hill GM Plant, would be fully powered by solar energy by late 2022.

New details on the project have since emerged from GM’s partner in the new green initiative, the Tennessee Valley Authority during an interview with the Home Page, including the source of all that energy.

Tennessee Valley Authority

Established in 1933, the TVA is a government-owned corporation that aids in general economic development to most of Tennessee, as well as portions of Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi. The new partnership comes by way of the TVA’s new Green Invest program, which “leverages long-term agreements to build new, large-scale renewable energy installations in the Valley through a competitive bid process.”

The new partnership

Jamie Bach, who manages the renewable energy solutions team at TVA, said that GM’s broader goal of fully powering all of its facilities in the United States with renewable energy by 2030 fit perfectly with TVA’s Green Invest program.

“Renewable [energy] is really driving a lot of change in the traditional utility marketplace, and a lot of companies have pretty aggressive sustainability or renewable energy goals — General Motors is one of those companies,” Bach said. 

“They've made a corporate initiative to source 100% of their electricity from renewable [energy] by 2030, and they're really a leader in this space. The Spring Hill facility is their largest plant in North America, and it just aligned really well with the TVA Green Invest program, and they've been excellent partners.”

The energy required to power a facility as large as the Spring Hill GM Plant is not light; to power the facility for one year would take the equivalent amount of power as is consumed by approximately 18,000 houses in the same period of time. Hence, the TVA has arranged for the facility to be powered by approximately 325,000 solar panels that will soon be operational in Lowndes County, Miss.

GM is not the only company that has seen partnership with the TVA through its new Green Invest program, with Vanderbilt University and the Knoxville Utility Board going green through the program as well. Through the program, the TVA has reduced its production of greenhouse gases by nearly 60 percent over its levels from 2005.

“I don't think a lot of folks understand just how clean TVA and the power that they source is compared to other states,” said Scott Allen, head of public relations for the TVA. “That 60% carbon reduction goal from 2005 levels, that's double the national average, so people need to be proud here in the Tennessee Valley that TVA is leading the pack of renewable energy in the southeast and also carbon reduction.”