BrightRidge board votes to initiate solar community project; participants eligible to earn return on their power bill


JOHNSON CITY – Participants in BrightRidge’s solar community will have an opportunity to secure a month-to-month or a 20-year license to 500 kW (.5 MW) of solar generation at the new Silicon Ranch Corp. solar farm under construction near Telford. And, those buying into the project will receive a return assuming the solar farm produces as expected.

Customers, however, should be aware that actual production will vary depending on weather and the rate of deterioration in solar panel performance, with generation degrading as the panels age.

“Obviously, BrightRidge could not afford to offer this program to our customers if we were purchasing land, permits and equipment to build our own solar farm,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “However, through the joint participation of BrightRidge and Silicon Ranch in the TVA Distributed Solar Solutions program, the Board is able to return a portion of the solar revenue stream to our solar community customers.”

In exchange for its participation in the project, BrightRidge will receive 500 kW (direct current equivalent to .5 MW) worth of energy to license its customers for 20 years under its solar community project. BrightRidge’s Board of Directors moved Tuesday to pass along the financial benefit to customers participating in the BrightRidge community solar project.

“BrightRidge is earning the revenue stream by serving as the interconnection between Silicon Ranch, the generator in this case, and TVA,” Dykes said. “We are returning 95 percent of that revenue stream directly to participating customers, retaining only 5 percent to help cover some of the administrative cost of the program.”

For example, if a residential customer leases a 1 kW block of solar generation on a month-to-month basis, the customer would earn $413.98 during the 20-year lease period, a return of 2.87 percent. All earnings will be shown as a credit on the power bill that can be applied against any future bill.

A potential 1 kW block leased for 20 years would cost $750 up front and earn the participant $863.98 over the period, a return of 5.76 percent for the customer.

BrightRidge’s only cash investment in the project will be up to $40,000 necessary to construct the interconnection infrastructure that will link the Silicon Ranch solar farm to the local power grid.

“In exchange for accessing the TVA system through BrightRidge, Silicon Ranch agreed to set aside .5 MW of production from the plant for a community solar project administered by BrightRidge,” Dykes said.

“This is a huge benefit to our customers. Most customers are unable to tap into solar because they can’t afford the installation and maintenance costs, their rooftop can’t support the weight, or they live in a multi-family unit. Community solar allows customers to participate without those drawbacks and in the case of this program only, the customer can actually earn a return on the investment.”

As adopted by the Board of Directors, 300 kW of capacity will be made available to residential customers, with a 10-kW cap on any single customer. Another 200 kW of capacity will be made available to commercial customers with a 50-kW cap on any single customer. 

Residential leases must be of a minimum 1 kW block. The average 1,800 square feet home on the BrightRidge system consumes 10 kW annually.

Leased solar capacity can be transferred within the system, for instance if a customer buys a new home or a business changes service location. Customers unable to complete the term can have their allocation repurchased on a pro-rated basis if they leave the area prior to completing the lease term.

For more information on the BrightRidge Community Solar offering, please visit

About BrightRidge

BrightRidge is a publicly owned electric utility serving 83,671 customers in Washington, Sullivan, Carter and Greene counties. It is the 10th largest local power company in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area. BrightRidge Broadband, a division of BrightRidge, offers nation-leading 10GB symmetrical fiber-to-the-premise services to more than 30,000 locations in its service area.