TVA partnering on solar farm in Tennessee to supply Meta with renewable power and more business news

Associated Press file photo / The sun reflects off a solar panel at the West Tennessee Solar Farm in 2012 in Stanton, Tennessee.
Associated Press file photo / The sun reflects off a solar panel at the West Tennessee Solar Farm in 2012 in Stanton, Tennessee.

TVA partnering on solar farm in Jackson, Tennessee

The Tennessee Valley Authority has joined with Meta (formerly the Facebook company), Jackson Energy Authority (JEA) and Silicon Ranch to begin construction of a new 70-megawatt solar facility to support Meta's regional operations with 100% renewable energy.

The $90 million McKellar Solar Farm is part of TVA's Green Invest program, which helps customers meet their sustainability goals with new utility-scale solar projects to supply all of the customer's electricity needs. Doug Perry, TVA's senior vice president of commercial energy solutions, said TVA has already committed $3 billion to add 2,000 megawatts of new solar to its power grid since 2018.

"This public-private partnership with Meta and Silicon Ranch demonstrates the strength of TVA's community energy model to attract capital investment and high-quality jobs into the communities we serve while helping businesses meet their sustainability goals," Perry said during a groundbreaking for the new solar facility earlier this week.

Nashville-based Silicon Ranch, which built a similar solar array at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, will fund, own and operate the McKellar Solar Farm. Construction of the solar facility is expected to create more than 350 construction jobs.

"The more than 850 megawatts of new solar energy we are developing with TVA is an important part of our goal to support our global operations with 100% renewable energy," Urvi Parekh, head of Renewable Energy at Meta, said in a news release about the project.

Macy's distribution center adds 2,800 Carolina jobs

Macy's Inc. announced plans Thursday to build a distribution and online order fulfillment center in central North Carolina that ultimately will employ about 2,800 people.

The department store and online retail giant said in a news release that it will invest $584 million in the project in China Grove, northeast of Charlotte.

The logistics center and warehouse operations, which will open in 2024, will provide automated services for orders to be shipped directly to consumers, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office said. The center will handle 30% of Macy's digital supply chain capacity when fully operational, the company said. New York-based Macy's had narrowed potential center sites to North Carolina and South Carolina, according to a document provided by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

"This state-of-the-art facility will support growth of our business as a leading omnichannel retailer," Macy's chief supply chain officer Dennis Mullahy said in a news release.

DeSantis wants to end Disney's 'special privileges'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed his support Thursday for ending Disney's "special privileges" in Florida, saying the entertainment giant's political sway is waning.

DeSantis has been battling the Walt Disney Co. over its opposition to HB 1557, officially titled Parental Rights in Education but known by many as the "don't say gay" bill.

"As a matter of first principle, I don't support special privileges in law, just because a company is powerful, and they've been able to wield a lot of power," he said at an event in West Palm Beach.

His comments came after state Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, tweeted that lawmakers have met twice to discuss repealing a 1967 state law that allowed Walt Disney World to establish its own independent government through the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

DeSantis didn't list specific policy proposals, but he mentioned a last-minute exemption the company got in legislation last year as an example of special treatment. Lawmakers excluded companies that operate theme parks from a bill that sought to stop social media outlets from de-platforming political candidates.

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said at the time the exemption was aimed at making sure the Disney Plus streaming service "isn't caught up in this."

Inflation gauge up 6.4% in past year

Inflation continued to run at the fastest pace in 40 years in February, fresh data released Thursday showed, at a moment when war in Ukraine and continued supply chain disruptions tied to the coronavirus promise to keep prices rising.

Prices as measured by the personal consumption expenditures index rose 6.4% in the year through February, up from the 6.1% increase in the year through January and the fastest inflation rate since 1982.

Prices climbed 5.4% after food and fuel costs, which can be volatile, are stripped out, the data showed. That pace was also faster than the prior month's reading, which was 5.2%.

The pace far exceeds the 2% annual inflation the Federal Reserve targets. While central bankers expect rapid inflation to cool by the end of the year, falling to 4.3% by the final three months of 2022, that rate would still be too quick for comfort.

- Compiled by Dave Flessner