Former TN Gov. Bredesen behind state’s largest solar array

Former TN Gov. Bredesen behind state’s largest solar arrayTennessee’s largest privately owned photovoltaic array, the 1.4-megawatt array at the Pulaski Energy Park, is being built by Silicon Ranch Corp, company founded by former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s (D) chief staff members Matthew Kisber and Reagan Farr, and chaired by Bredesen. The development will also serve as a training facility and a chance to prove the viability of solar in the Southeast U.S.

“It is our first and signature project,” Kisber said.

The company purchased 25 acres of the park from the local government, according to Kisber.

“They’re frontage acres on one of the main highways, and we’re putting in a campus that has three buildings,” he said.

The site will feature a classroom, assembly warehouse and an administrative building.

“One of the attractions of the frontage area we purchased is there’s a nice substation on site,” he said.

The array will be tied to the grid at the substation.

“Pulaski has a tech center that has training in solar—green collar training—courses on solar installation and solar maintenance. There are attractive opportunities to work with their students and graduates and use the facility as a demonstration for them,” Kisber said.

The site will help grow the green collar workforce in the state through the training classes, he said.

“One of the areas we were very excited about is the opportunity to grow the solar industry in the Southeast U.S,” Kisber said. “The first question people ask is: ‘Can solar work here?’ When we say we get 95 percent of the sunlight of the desert Southwest, more than Germany, then we say yes.”

Developing larger solar arrays in the region is important to show the ability of solar in the region, according to Kisber.

“I think every time a larger-scale installation goes up it brings awareness in the state that’s important to the development of the industry, and it’s a technology that’s going to be deployed in greater amounts in this part of the country,” he said. “We think the solar opportunity is not just in Tennessee. [Solar in] this whole part of the country will grow significantly over the rest of this decade.”

The project at Pulaski is being developed by Phoenix Solar. It’s slated for completion in the first quarter of 2012.

Image courtesy of Phoenix Solar of a large solar array it built in Germany.