Franklin Proposes Solar Farm

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

by Mark Bellinger 
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The city of Franklin wants to use an old dumping ground to produce electricity. Mayor Ken Moore said in the long run it would save the city and taxpayers money.  

Moore wants to build a solar array on land next to the waste water treatment plant near Franklin High School.  After treating waste water, there is a sludge left over. For years the city of Franklin would spread it in this field to dry and then bury it.

The site for the proposed solar farm is 100 acres, but the new farm would only take up 1 acre of land. The property is adjacent to the city´s waste water treatment plant near Franklin High School.

"This is a former sludge field that we´re looking at turning into a solar array," said Staff engineer Dan Allen.

Allen and other city officials have been working on the concept for about a year.

"Initially, what we´ll do is take a piece of land we don´t have a use for and we´re coming up with a way to generate some revenue off of it," said Allen

The plan is to generate electricity and offset the cost of running the treatment plant.  Allen said the water treatment plant uses about $1.2 million worth of electricity every year. 

Mayor Ken Moore is proposing a private/public partnership with a solar power company called Energy Source Partners.  He wants to lease an acre of land to the company, so it can build a solar farm.

The solar company would produce electricity and sell it to the TVA. Some of the profit would be used by the city to offset the cost of powering the waste water plant.

"We would work out the terms of the agreement as far as the power side of it in how we would share in the revenue and then after a given period of time which is yet to be determined that solar field would revert to us and it would be our property," said Mayor Moore.

The mayor said the same opportunity would be open to other companies if they want to explore it.  If an agreement is reached the solar company would build nearly one thousand solar panels on the site.

The proposed farm would look a lot like a farm currently at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California. 

City officials said they hope to break ground in six months.

If an agreement is reached between the solar company and the Mayor´s office -- it would still have to be passed by the Franklin Board of Aldermen. 

The board will hear the proposal at a study session this Tuesday.