The Tennessee Valley Authority is taking steps to determine if about 3,000 acres along Alabama 20 in Lawrence County will be suitable for one or more utility-scale solar farms.
Malinda Hunter of TVA public relations said the power provider has entered into an option with a “willing seller” to purchase land north of Courtland Mountain between Courtland and Hillsboro in north-central Lawrence County.
“During the two-year option term, TVA will conduct all investigative activities as may be necessary, including technical, environmental and cultural reviews that will inform the decision to purchase the property for the construction of one or more utility-scale solar projects,” Hunter said.
The project has been dubbed “TVA Solar 1,” which is simply a project name and not the name of whatever future installation is constructed.
Hunter said the land assessments will conclude with a recommendation to either move forward with purchasing the property for future use or not. No decisions will be made about land use until formal environmental evaluations are complete, she said.
“We’re not going to drop one there until we know we can,” she said.
Hunter said TVA has contacted landowners in the area about the potential project and the possibility of TVA being a new neighbor in the future.
TVA looked at several locations before selecting the Lawrence County site, which it said has good potential for a solar farm.
“Alabama fortunately has a lot of good, flat land, and we’re not fighting with mountain shadows,” she said. “It appears to be a good location.”
Lawrence County District 1 Commissioner Jesse Byrd said TVA officials told him about the potential project.
“It would be great for the area,” he said. “Anything coming into the area is always a good thing, because it attracts other things.”
Commission Chairman Bobby Burch said the county is excited TVA is considering it for its first solar farm.
“Solar is a thing of the future, and we’d like to be on the progressive edge of that technology,” Burch said.
The chairman said he saw several solar farms while visiting North Carolina last summer.
Hunter said TVA has committed to producing more renewable energy in its Integrated Resources plan, which looks 20 years into the future. The plan was approved by the TVA board this past summer.
“We are excited to explore this potential solar site in Alabama to continue growing our carbon-free energy generation,” she said.
While TVA purchases power from privately owned solar farms, including ones in Limestone and Lauderdale counties, this would be the first project initiated by TVA itself.
TVA’s power portfolio currently includes 60% carbon free generation, which includes solar, nuclear, natural gas and hydroelectric.