The Tennessee Valley Authority has taken steps toward its first large-scale purchase of solar electricity.
The TVA Board on Thursday voted to authorize Chief Executive Bill Johnson to enter into a 20-year contract with NextEra Energy for an 80 megawatt solar facility in northern Alabama that officials said offers the most competitive solar pricing they have seen.
The facility will be built near TVA’s Colbert Fossil Plant, which TVA is retiring in 2016. Johnson said the location will allow the solar facility to take advantage of the existing transmission system.
The nation’s largest public utility currently has 128 megawatts of operating solar installations, but those are mostly small operations. The NextEra facility will be the utility’s first solar installation producing more than 20 megawatts.
The utility will pay about $61 per megawatt-hour over the 20-year life of the agreement. That’s competitive with the $59 per megawatt-hour the utility expects to pay for energy at a Quantum Choctaw natural gas power plant at Ackerman, Miss.
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