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GM Signs New Deal to Provide Corvette Assembly Plant with Renewable Energy

by Bradan Donaldson
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The parking lot at the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant sits empty in April as the facility is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The plant is scheduled to begin a gradual reopening May 26. Grace Ramey/photo@bgdailynews.com
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General Motors has signed a new deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide 28 megawatts of solar power to the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant

In December of 2015, GM broke new ground at the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant to install an 850-kilowatt solar array making GM the #1 leader in solar energy use by the automotive industry in the United States.

GM will now become a part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nationally recognized Green Invest program to provide 28 megawatts of solar power to its Corvette Assembly plant by 2023 contributing to the company’s overall goal of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2040.

Below is the official press release by the Tennessee Valley Authority announcing the new partnership:

Facebook and General Motors Use the Sun to Power Facilities

March 25, 2021

The Logan County facility will look similar to Silicon Ranch’s 102.5 MWAC Bancroft Station Solar Farm in Early County, Georgia that supports Facebook’s renewable energy goals for its Newton Data Center.

The Logan County facility will look similar to Silicon Ranch’s 102.5 MWAC Bancroft Station Solar Farm in Early County, Georgia that supports Facebook’s renewable energy goals for its Newton Data Center.

RUSSELLVILLE, Ky.­ – Through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nationally recognized Green Invest program, renewable energy continues to expand with plans to build the largest solar-plus-storage project in TVA’s Kentucky service area.

The new Logan County solar farm will provide Facebook’s regional data center operations with 145 megawatts of solar power and General Motors’ Bowling Green Assembly, exclusive home of the Chevrolet Corvette, with 28 megawatts of solar power.

Facebook’s investment helped enable the addition of 120 megawatt-hours of new battery storage technology that will increase the resilience of the power grid. TVA and Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation are partnering with Nashville-based Silicon Ranch to develop the project.

“Today’s announcement is the result of Facebook’s, General Motors’, and Warren RECC’s leadership and our joint, long-term commitment to renewable energy across the region,” said Chris Hansen, TVA vice president, Origination and Renewables. “TVA’s Green Invest program is bringing together customers and renewable energy partners who are all investing in our communities.”

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 – maintaining TVA’s green energy leadership with the greatest amount of renewable generation in the Southeast.

“Renewable energy is something that more of our businesses want and something that makes Kentucky more competitive for jobs and investments,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “Green Invest shows the benefits of TVA’s public power model as we transition to a cleaner energy future.”

Kentucky State Representative Jason Petrie believes the project will create valuable opportunities for local residents and businesses: “I am excited that Logan County has been chosen to serve as a provider of renewable energy. This project positions our entire region for economic development as the demand for renewable energy continues to increase.”

TVA signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Silicon Ranch to develop, own, operate and maintain the solar-plus-storage facility, which will foster significant capital investment in Logan County and spawn additional economic impacts for the surrounding area. Silicon Ranch plans to hire more than 450 workers and will emphasize hiring locally for the project’s construction, which is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed in fall of 2023, pending environmental reviews.

“The Tennessee Valley is our home, and Silicon Ranch is honored to be part of this compelling economic development story with TVA, Facebook, General Motors, and Warren RECC that demonstrates what’s possible when we work together with a shared vision for the entire region,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Reagan Farr. “Thanks to the forward-thinking vision of our partners at TVA and the local power companies, Silicon Ranch is on pace to invest more than $1 billion across the Valley, and we are proud to expand this legacy to Logan County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Facebook is on track to support its global operations with 100% renewable energy, and this announcement is Facebook’s fifth renewable energy agreement with TVA. Facebook’s renewable commitments in the region now total 742 megawatts of solar and 80 megawatts of battery storage.

“Green Invest makes it possible for our operations in the Tennessee Valley to be supported by new solar energy constructed in the region,” said Urvi Parekh, head of Renewable Energy at Facebook. “This solar and storage facility, less than 50 miles from our Gallatin data center, will be Facebook’s first renewable energy project in Kentucky, which marks an important milestone for our global portfolio.”

In May, General Motors said it would use Green Invest to power its Spring Hill Manufacturing plant with 100% renewable energy, and solar energy from today’s announcement will help General Motors reach its goal to become carbon neutral in its products and operations by 2040. The solar facility is located only 30 miles from GM’s Bowling Green Assembly plant.

“We are committed to sourcing 100% renewable energy for our U.S. operations by 2030,” said Kristen Siemen, GM chief sustainability officer. “Using our scale and relationships to increase renewable energy demand and availability in local communities will help create a future with zero emissions.”

TVA sees a bright future for solar fueling the region’s economy because it has increased its contracted solar capacity by 60% since October 2020.

“Warren RECC is committed to developing innovative solutions, and we are proud to be the first electric cooperative in the Tennessee Valley to sign a Green Invest agreement,” said Dewayne McDonald, Warren RECC president and CEO. “The Warren RECC service territory is an industry hub, and we continue to take bold steps to help make our community a competitive location for businesses, like GM, that are pursuing environmental goals.”

The Logan County facility will also feature Silicon Ranch’s holistic approach to land management, a model the company has trademarked as Regenerative Energy®. Under this unique platform, Silicon Ranch will restore the land to a functioning grassland ecosystem while keeping the property in agricultural production through managed sheep grazing. Key to this approach is managing the land based on close observations of soil, grass, and the water cycle, resulting in quantifiable ecological, economic, and social outcomes that are backed by a third-party verified standard.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.

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