Construction is now underway in Elkmont on a solar project officials say will generate enough energy to power 3,000 homes.

McCarthy Building Companies Inc. is overseeing construction of Silicon Ranch's 20-megawatt Cumberland Solar Project. The 155-acre site is east of Mooresville Road near an existing substation owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The project is expected to be complete by December.

To bring the project to fruition, McCarthy will hire upwards of 120 craft workers, the majority of whom will be recruited from the local community. The project will consist of assembling, installing and wiring horizontal 540 single-axis trackers supporting 170,220 solar panels.

“As the long-term owner and operator of our entire portfolio, Silicon Ranch is deeply committed to the communities we serve,” said Pete Candelaria, Silicon Ranch chief technology officer. “Silicon Ranch seeks to use local service providers and hire from the local community as much as possible, and we are proud to work with McCarthy to execute this vision.”

To train entry-level laborers or those new to the growing solar industry, McCarthy implemented principles of Training Within Industry, a program originally developed by the United States Department of War in the 1940s to help quickly and reliably retrain workers on moderately complex tasks.

Residents interested in working on the Cumberland Solar Project should visit, and enter “solar” to find job postings for positions ranging from entry level to experienced, including laborer, operator, crew lead, electrician and journeyman electrician.

Clean electricity

Power from the solar array will be transmitted onto the Tennessee Valley Authority system. TVA entered into a long-term agreement with Silicon Ranch to buy competitively priced power from the solar facility.

“This project supports TVA’s mission of service and helps us deliver reliable, low-cost, carbon-free electricity to the 9 million people of the Tennessee Valley,” said Jay Stowe, senior vice president Distributed Energy Resources for TVA. “Over the next 20 years, TVA will invest about $8 billion to support our renewable energy portfolio to help our customers meet their carbon-reduction goals.”

Scott Canada, senior vice president of the Renewable Energy team at McCarthey, said leveraging the power of the sun has resulted in reliability, favorable rates and social responsibility for energy-focused businesses, municipalities and utilities.

“We are grateful to team up with sustainable-minded solar owners like Silicon Ranch that understand the value of this infrastructure to local communities, which will provide clean energy for decades to come,” he said.

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