First community solar array coming to Knoxville
Chasity Hobby, KUB Project Manager and Harvey Abouelata, VP of Solar Alliance speak about bringing a 1-megawatt community solar array to Knoxville.
Calvin Mattheis, Knoxville News Sentinel
People went crazy for toilet paper at the start of the pandemic, and it became a commodity that seemed as valuable as gold.
Harvey Abouelata saw a run on another in-demand product: solar panels.
Prior to the pandemic, Abouelata, the vice president of Knoxville-based Solar Alliance, said the company installed solar panels on eight residences per year.
He installed 148 during the first two years of the pandemic.
In a world with pandemics and wars, Abouelata said he’s seen people want to become more independent and have more control over resources like energy — something solar power can provide.
“Talking about solar and what it does is about as sexy as watching paint dry,” Abouelata told Knox News. “But what it does for us, (it has) given us resiliency, given us independency, cutting our costs. That’s important.”
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The benefits of solar power and renewable energy are not lost on Knoxville and Tennessee agencies and businesses investing big in those fields.
Since 2015, KUB has invested $3.3 million in solar energy across three projects. The projects will generate a total of 503.1 megawatts of energy.
By 2035, Tennessee Valley Authority spokesperson Scott Fiedler said the TVA hopes to produce 10,000 megawatts of solar power per year. That’s enough to power 35% of the single-family homes across the TVA’s seven-state area.
In collaboration with the Knoxville Utilities Board and the city of Knoxville, the TVA is planning to bring 502 megawatts online to support the city’s energy needs. The investment will also help KUB meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
Businesses going solar
Last year, mechanical seal manufacturer AESSEAL invested $1.8 million to install solar panels and storage batteries into its facility in Blount County. The panels will generate enough electricity to power 70% of the facility’s operations and are expected to be completed this October.
AESSEAL quality, safety and manufacturing manager Josh Perry said the company isn’t bothered by the amount of money …….