Highlands Business Park may host solar power site

Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 in the Herald-Citizen

By TRACEY HACKETT

COOKEVILLE — The Highlands Business Park could soon have an installation that generates solar power.

A company called RSI has requested to install a mega-watt facility for generating solar power at the location, and if the project is approved, that power would be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority to offset the cost of other power production methods that rely heavily on fossil fuels.

The Cookeville City Council has approved measures for a system impact study for the proposed installation and hiring an engineer to perform project management, design overview and construction administration services.

While the council agreed to fund the $30,000 for those projects, the amount would be repaid in full by RSI, city officials say.

“Because the installation would eventually be connected to the Cookeville Electric Department’s system, we are coordinating closely with RSI to make sure everything is electrically compatible,” said Tony Peek, director of the Cookeville Electric Department.

Melinda Keifer, Cookeville’s economic development coordinator, said the developer, RSI, is ultimately responsible for all costs of the project.

“Before project negotiations proceed, the Cookeville Electric Department must give its approval of the company’s technical standards,” she said.

That’s mainly for reasons of safety, Peek said.

With the solar installation connected to Cookeville’s electric infrastructure, it’s essential to the safety of employees that the power flow between the two is seamless.

“We want to make sure the installation doesn’t create problems for our power system,” he said. “If our power is off, the solar facility’s power has to be off too. If it’s not, it could be dangerous.”

The two projects approved by the council are progressing rapidly and are expected to be complete in about a week.

If the projects find the systems to be compatible, the council could be ready to consider an interconnection and parallel operation agreement between the city and RSI by the May 5 meeting date, city officials said. 

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