TVA turns to the sun for more power but shifts its focus from rooftop solar to large-scale projects

A 1 megawatt solar energy farm in east Memphis generates electricity for TVA. / File AP photo by Adrian Sainz

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which went underground to generate most of its power from coal a generation ago, is looking up to the sun for more of its power in the future.

In response to its request for proposals, TVA is boosting its solar energy capacity by 44% from a year ago by adding 484 megawatts of new contracted solar generation, including a $200 million solar farm announced this week near Columbus, Mississippi that would both generate and store electric power.

"This is the first time that we're announcing a solar project that is at the right price that if customers want it, we can offer this renewable power to them, and if not enough customers want this power we will buy it for our system needs," said Doug Perry, TVA's vice president of commercial energy solutions.