Jackson will see a boost in clean, green energy soon thanks to the development of a new solar farm built by Clearloop, a start-up company looking to help corporations reduce their carbon footprint while investing in Tennessee.
The company, which functions similarly to a crowd-funding project, allows corporations to invest in the number of solar panels that would reverse the effects of their 2020 carbon footprint, therefore “closing the loop” on clean energy.
“We’ve been talking a lot about Jackson, and we’re really excited it’s coming together,” said Lauren Zapata, co-founder of Clearloop. “We were really excited that we will be making our first solar project happen in Jackson.
“Seeing all these companies come together—companies that may have not invested in Jackson before, and are investing in the solar project–really excites us.”
With the final goal of producing 1 million watts of solar energy, Clearloop has almost reached that milestone with the recent investment made by software investment company Vista Equity partners, who will be producing 222,000 watts, or 510 solar panels.
This investment alone will power 44 homes in Jackson for 40 years.
Clearloop’s 1 million watt-goal will require an estimated 2,300 solar panels, and will be built on the western edge of Jackson adjacent to Silicon Ranch’s facility near McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport and TCAT Jackson.
Silicon Ranch is also a developing partner on the project.
“Our goal is 1 million watts, enough to power 200 homes,” Zapata said. “We are almost there—we have a couple of announcements coming up, but the Vista Equity project is the most recent, largest one. We are about 95 percent of the way there, as of this announcement. “
The energy will be flowed into Jackson Energy Authority and dispersed throughout the city.
Clearloop was the brainchild of Zapata, former Governor Phil Bredesen and renewable energy entrepreneur Bob Corney, who all agreed on one thing: Tennessee’s need for clean energy, and the state’s unique ability to provide valuable opportunities for such an investment.
“The three of us really came together to sort of try to figure out how to get more companies and more private sectors to invest in our part of the country, and help us clean up the grid,” Zapata said. “And we could help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to Zapata, about 0.4 percent of Tennessee’s electricity comes from solar energy.
“That is very surprising to many people, because we are in the sunbelt,” she said. “So it’s one of those things that we could really power up and really invest in, in this part of the country. There’s a lot of opportunity for us to build more, and really invest in the communities that they’re going in.”
The hope to invest in the broader community will come in many forms, including tax and infrastructure benefits.
“We think it’s important to recognize that these sort of infrastructure investments are not just good for the environment—it’s more of a question of equitable access to clean energy here in Jackson,” Zapata explained. “We should have just as much access to energy as folks in California, or New York, or other larger states.
“But also, on the economic aspect, by building new infrastructure, these types of projects will be there for the next generation over the next 40 years, generating clean energy. That means the piece of infrastructure is not just adding to the resiliency of the grid for Jackson community, but Tennessee in general, as well as helping boost local taxes, and being part of the local tax base.”
The solar farm plans to host their groundbreaking event in early September and expects to be fully operational by July 2022.
“This is just the beginning,” Zapata said. “This is just the first project—we’re really excited to be the first project to be funded like this in the U.S. We can’t wait to do more of these—this one just happens to be right here at home in Tennessee, where we’re excited to be able to make that kind of investment.”
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