Solar Farm Under Construction Near East Tennessee Technology Park

 Bob Fowler, Knoxville News-Sentinel Staff
Knoxville News Sentinel

January 25, 2012, OAK RIDGE, TN - A company planning new headquarters nearby is constructing a solar farm on a brownfield site next to East Tennessee Technology Park, and it's calling its project "Brightfield."

Restoration Services Inc., or RSI, purchased the 1.3-acre tract along Highway 58 near ETTP from the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee.

CROET is the economic development group seeking new uses of former or underused Department of Energy properties in Oak Ridge. The technology park is located at a former uranium enrichment complex.

RSI, which provides regulatory and remediation services to the Department of Energy and other federal and commercial clients, is installing "the newest and most efficient design" of solar panels, spokeswoman Yvette Cantrell said.

The solar farm, which is expected to generate enough electricity to power 20 homes, is scheduled to be completed next month and in operation in March.

It's a $700,000 project, Cantrell said. Electricity generated by the solar panels, made by Sharp Solar in Memphis, will be sold to TVA through the Oak Ridge Electric Department, she said.

RSI is the lead subcontractor of UCOR, the Department of Energy's environmental cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge.
"As an environmental company, most of our staff has a passion for renewable energy in their everyday lives, so turning brownfield acreage at a site like ETTP into beneficial reuse resonated with us and our employees," Cantrell stated in an email.

The solar farm is an outgrowth of a report titled "Solar Installations on Restricted Use Sites" that RSI completed through a Tennessee Solar Institute grant.

RSI, with 280 employees in all, recently purchased 11.75 acres in the nearby Horizon Center Business Park from Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board for a new headquarters to consolidate several offices in Oak Ridge locations.

Construction of that 30,000-square-foot building is scheduled to begin this year.