- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

ELKMONT, Ala. (AP) - A solar panel park large enough to power 50 homes a day is being built in Alabama by a private company that will sell the electricity generated at the site to Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based PJ Kraft Enterprises is developing the $690,000 solar energy-producing system on nearly an acre in Elkmont, spokesman Steven Pitts for contractor ACE LLC Solar told The Decatur Daily (http://bit.ly/22ecP9S ). PJ Kraft is a company that invests in renewable energy projects.

The 199.8-kilowatt capacity system is designed to generate about one megawatt of power each day, Pitts said. ACE LLC, of Pulaski, Tennessee, designed the solar panel system and is building it.

Construction on the solar panel system started in November, and it is expected to be online next month, Pitts said.

“It’s about 75 percent complete,” he said. “It’s going right along.”

Tennessee Valley Authority spokeswoman Kristine Shattuck-Cooper said TVA agreed to buy power from the solar park because it meets TVA’s criteria for cost affordability.

The TVA serves 9 million people in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

“It’s an opportunity for TVA to diversify its portfolio,” she said. “We are always looking for energy production from renewable sources.”

Athens Utilities won’t buy power directly from the solar park, Athens Utilities General Manager Gary Scroggins said. He said the utility’s transmission lines will be used to send the power from the park to the TVA grid.

Athens Utilities residential electricity customers pay an average of 9 cents a kilowatt hour, he said. TVA will pay PJ Kraft more than 9 cents, he said.

“They pay a premium for it because it’s renewable,” Scroggins said.

The amount TVA will pay PJ Kraft for power produced from the Elkmont system was not immediately available Monday afternoon, Shattuck-Cooper said.

Federal and state grants and incentives will cover the $690,000 cost of the solar park, Pitts said. Paula Kraft is owner of PJ Kraft Enterprises.

Daikin America Inc. sells power to TVA from a solar panel energy system it built in 2012. The solar panel field behind the 236,000-square-foot Daikin Technical Center on Alabama 20 generates about 200 kilowatts of electricity per month, said Daikin spokesman Forrest Keith.

“We’re generating enough electricity to run the building,” he said.

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Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml

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