Appalachian Electric powers up TN’s first utility scale community solar array!

Update: See a timelapse video of the entire Appalachian Electric array construction in New Market, TN

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Greg Williams, left, Appalachian Electric co-op general manager, officially turned on the utility's 1.37 MW community solar array on Jan. 12, 2017. Thanks to Caroline, center, from New Market Elementary for flipping the switch! Her dad, Jeremy, right, is a lineman at the co-op. — in New Market, Tennessee.

Greg Williams, left, Appalachian Electric co-op general manager, officially turned on the utility’s 1.37 MW community solar array on Jan. 12, 2017. Thanks to Caroline, center, from New Market Elementary for flipping the switch! Her dad, Jeremy, right, is a lineman at the co-op. — in New Market, Tennessee.

After months of work, ARiES partner Appalachian Electric Cooperative today officially powered on its 1.37 megawatt community solar installation in New Market, Tennessee. It’s the first utility-scale community solar project in the state.

“Today is a milestone in the life of our co-op – completion of its first renewable generation resource,” said Robert Drinnon, president of AEC’s board of directors. “Careful planning and oversight brought us here. Resources were leveraged for the good of the AEC membership.”

More than 200 of the cooperative’s members have already subscribed to some 700 of the array’s solar panels. Subscriptions to the panels are through the Co-Op Community Solar Program and are open to residential and commercial members of the cooperative. AEC members subscribe to the generation output of individual solar panels, rated at 145 watts each, for a one-time cost of $125.

Appalachian Electric Cooperative members John and Joan Barnhill were the first to subscribe to community solar.

Appalachian Electric Cooperative members John and Joan Barnhill were the first to subscribe to community solar.

John and Joan Barnhill were the first AEC members to subscribe through the program. The couple had planned to put solar on their home, but did not want to sacrifice the decades-old shade trees that blocked significant sunlight from reaching their roof.

Individuals like the Barnhills, as well as those who rent or otherwise cannot own their own solar are some of the greatest beneficiaries of a community solar program. In addition, by leveraging the economies of scale, members reap all the environmental and sustainability benefits of solar generation at a much lower cost than the typical home install.

For more details on the project, see our Utility Community Solar page. You can also follow along with the project’s construction on the AEC Community Solar Facebook page and the ARiES Solar Facebook page.