City leaders present $3.36M deal for sale of part of Exit 8 property for solar farm

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Clarksville’s Finance and Budget Committee discussed Monday plans to sell a portion of land at Exit 8 to solar energy provider Silicon Ranch for a 15-megawatt facility.

City Mayor Joe Pitts and CDE Lightband General Manager Brian Taylor said the plan would give the Nashville-based Silicon Ranch a three-year option to purchase 140.2 acres from the city for #3,360,000 for the construction of a 15-megawatt solar farm which would sell electricity to CDE at half the price of TVA.

A map depicting property owned by the city of Clarksville near Exit 8, including a portion being considered for sale to Silicon Ranch for the construction of a solar facility (City of Clarksville)

The city originally purchased 347.5 acres near Exit 8 in 2018 for $4,083,000 to build a new athletic complex. City attorney Lance Baker noted at the meeting that the sale would allow the city to recoup four fifths of their initial expense while only losing land that would be of minimal use.

The sale is not expected to greatly affect the construction of the Exit 8 Athletic Complex. According to the mayor, the property being considered for sale is heavily inclined and unsuitable for anything more than “meandering walking paths.”

The city would also maintain an access route to the Red River, which runs along the border of the property.

A map depicting property owned by the city of Clarksville near Exit 8, including a portion being considered for sale to Silicon Ranch for the construction of a solar facility (City of Clarksville)

Power at half the price

According to Taylor, the proposed solar facility would have the capacity to generate an average 15 megawatts of power, which could power the equivalent of 1,863 households. He said that power bought from Silicon Ranch would cost half of what it costs to buy power from TVA.

Money saved though the deal with Silicon Ranch is unlikely to show up on customer’s bills, according to Taylor. The reduced cost will most likely be used by CDE for infrastructure improvement, and to push back future rate increases.

Taylor also noted that the solar facility would not have a battery component, but instead connect directly to a CDE substation for use.

A step toward a green Clarksville

Pitts noted in his comments that a partnership with Silicon Ranch would be a clear statement that, as a city, Clarksville supports sustainability

“It not only meets some of the goals that we have, but it broadcasts to the world that we are in the business of buying our own power, or buying through a green source” Pitts said.

Taylor said that the deal shows that CDE is a “a leader in consumables.”

Since CDE is authorized by TVA to acquire up to 22.4 megawatts of solar power, Clarksville’s power utility would still have capacity to add up to 7.4 megawatts of renewable energy from other projects.