$12.5M Solar Project Completed in Knox County

The solar system includes 11 schools and three county buildings.

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Ameresco Solar Panels in Knox County, Tenn.
Ameresco Solar Panels in Knox County, Tenn.

Knoxville, Tenn.Knox County officials and Ameresco Inc. recently announced the completion of a $12.45 million Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC). The project is expected to provide more than $29 million in energy savings to the County while generating an aggregate of approximately $14 million in positive bottom-line cash flow during the next 30 years.

Knox County selected Ameresco in the spring of 2015 to install more than 5 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems on the rooftops of 11 schools and on the Knox County Central Building, as well as ground-mounted solar arrays at the Detention and Juvenile Justice Facilities.

“Now that our solar installations are complete, we can begin to reap the benefits of our renewable energy project that will pay for itself, help to reduce our utility costs and support our community for years to come,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said in prepared remarks. “This is a fiscally responsible energy solution that helps the environment, saves taxpayer dollars and provides a great learning tool for our students.”

The project, designed to maximize economic and environmental benefits of Knox County’s QECB application, entered the construction phase in August 2015, creating approximately 100 local jobs during the construction period. The Tennessee County Service Association (TCSA) honored the project with the County Success Stories Award for sustainability at its Fall Conference Awards Banquet. Knox County was also awarded by TenneSEIA with its Solar Champion Award for its leadership in deploying 5 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems on 14 publicly owned buildings, including 11 schools and three county buildings.

By means of the solar project, Knox County expects to save the equivalent of more than 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of approximately 1,057 passenger vehicles. Knox County will retain all rights to the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

“Ameresco is honored to have worked together with Knox County to develop a customized technical and financial solution that is both fiscally attractive and environmentally responsible for the entire community,” said Louis Maltezos, executive vice president, Ameresco. “With this award-winning 5.3 MW solar project in the state of Tennessee, Knox County’s leadership and staff have inspired innovative renewable solutions while also generating a source of significant annual income and creating local jobs.”

The locations for the solar arrays include AL Lotts Elementary School, Amherst Elementary School, Bearden Middle School, Central High School, Hardin Valley Academy, Karns High School, L&N STEM Academy, Powell Middle School, South Doyle Middle School, West High School and the West Valley Middle School; as well as at the Detention Center, Juvenile Justice Facility and the Knox County Central Building.

Image courtesy of Knox County