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TVA to study potential solar farm in Alabama

The Tennessee Valley Authority is considering building solar capacity in northern Alabama as the federal power provider looks to boost its renewable energy profile.

The utility said it entered into a two-year option term to purchase approximately 3,000 acres in Lawrence County, Ala., as first reported by Alabama Media Group. During the option period, the TVA will conduct various activities, including technical, environmental and cultural reviews, to determine whether to purchase the property.

The land could be used to build one or more utility-scale solar projects, but it is too early in the process to determine specific capacity additions, TVA spokesperson Malinda Hunter said in a Jan. 17 email.

"The land assessments will conclude with a recommendation to either move forward with purchasing the property for future use or not," Hunter said. "No decisions will be made about land use until formal environmental evaluations are complete, so we aren't speculating how many [megawatts] could be generated at this time."

The news comes as the TVA pursues its integrated resource plan, which includes increasing solar capacity by between 1,500 MW and 8,000 MW by 2028 and by up to 14,000 MW by 2038. A recent outlook from Fitch Solutions Macro Research found that the Southeast U.S. could see about 110 GW of solar capacity additions from 2020 through 2029, and more solar could be added if states with smaller markets like Alabama built more renewable energy projects.

"TVA is investing in growing renewables in response to customer demand for cleaner energy and in the interest of economic development opportunities," Hunter said. "We are excited to explore this potential solar site in Alabama to continue growing our carbon-free energy generation."