A rendering of Facebook’s $800 million data center that will cover nearly 1 million square feet in Gallatin, Tennessee. The new solar farm to be built near Millington Facebook is projected to use 110 megawatts of the solar energy to support the data center. (Image: TVA)

Shelby County is on track to be the home of one of Tennessee’s largest solar farms, according to an announcement from the Tennessee Valley Authority on Wednesday.

A new Green Invest partnership pairing TVA, Facebook and RWE Renewables is projected to yield a 150-megawatt solar facility near Millington. Facebook reportedly would use 110 megawatts of the solar energy to support its data center operations in Gallatin, Tennessee and the broader Tennessee Valley. 

Doug Perry, TVA senior vice president, Commercial Energy Solutions, said bringing clean energy to Shelby County is part of TVA’s long-term community plan and is critical to support the region’s sustainability strategy.

“This project is more than a solar farm, it puts people to work, revitalizes communities and makes our region an environmental leader,” said Perry. 

Since 2018, Green Invest has attracted nearly $2.7 billion in solar investment and procured over 2,100 megawatts of solar on behalf of its customers.

TVA is partnering with RWE, a company focused on renewable energy, to develop the $140 million solar farm. RWE, through a long-term power purchase agreement with TVA, will own and operate the plant. 

Silvia Ortin, chief operating officer for Onshore Wind and Solar PV Americas, RWE Renewables, said, “… the clean energy generated from this site will fuel jobs locally and across the state and help Facebook achieve its carbon reduction goals.” 

Projections provided by TVA point to the generating of more than $12 million in property tax revenue. Also projected are 150-plus construction jobs, with additional employment for two to four full-time operations and maintenance staff.

Pending environmental reviews, the solar farm is expected to come online in late 2023. It will occupy approximately 1,200-1,400 acres. As for the project’s size, 150 megawatts AC equals approximately 399,600 solar panels.

Millington Mayor Terry Jones is welcoming TVA and Facebook, saying they will be “great neighbors.”

“Businesses want renewable energy, and this solar farm makes it easier for us to compete for good jobs,” Jones said. 

Facebook operations are now supported by 100 percent renewable energy.Iin the last year, Facebook has signed Green Invest agreements for 475 megawatts of new solar to be built in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. Since 2018, Facebook has agreed to purchase 852 megawatts of power generated by multiple solar farms linked into the TVA electric grid. 

“This solar project, which is our third in Tennessee, will help us continue our commitment of 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations, while also bringing new investment and jobs to the local community,” said Urvi Parekh, head of Renewable Energy at Facebook.

TVA reports that its electricity is nearly 60 percent carbon-free. Since October, the utility giant has increased its contracted solar capacity by 60 percent. 

“Facebook, RWE and our elected officials are great partners, and this announcement demonstrates our commitment to Shelby County, and how we are using solar energy to make our region the prime destination for businesses to achieve their environmental goals,” said Perry.