Solar panels

Solar panels at Daikin’s Solar Energy Project on Monday.

A solar panel park large enough to power 50 homes a day is being built in Elkmont by a private company that will sell the electricity generated at the site to TVA.

PJ Kraft Enterprises LLC, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, company that invests in renewable energy projects, is developing the $690,000 solar energy-producing system on nearly an acre at Sandlin and Hayes Mill roads, said Steven Pitts, a spokesman for contractor ACE LLC Solar.

The 199.8-kilowatt capacity system is designed to generate about one megawatt of power each day, Pitts said. ACE LLC, of Pulaski, Tennessee, designed the solar panel system and is building it.

Construction on the solar panel system started in November, and it is expected to be online next month, Pitts said.

“It’s about 75 percent complete,” he said. “It’s going right along.”

Tennessee Valley Authority spokeswoman Kristine Shattuck-Cooper said TVA agreed to buy power from the solar park because it meets TVA’s criteria for cost affordability.

“It’s an opportunity for TVA to diversify its portfolio,” she said. “We are always looking for energy production from renewable sources.”

Athens Utilities won’t buy power directly from the solar park, Athens Utilities General Manager Gary Scroggins said. He said the utility’s transmission lines will be used to send the power from the park to the TVA grid.

Athens Utilities residential electricity customers pay an average of 9 cents a kilowatt hour, he said. TVA will pay PJ Kraft more than 9 cents, he said.

“They pay a premium for it because it’s renewable,” Scroggins said.

The amount TVA will pay PJ Kraft for power produced from the Elkmont system was not immediately available Monday afternoon, Shattuck-Cooper said.

Federal and state grants and incentives will cover the $690,000 cost of the solar park, Pitts said. Paula Kraft is owner of PJ Kraft Enterprises.

“It’s not going to cost her anything,” Pitts said.

Scroggins said there are some homes in Limestone County with solar panels that sell power to the TVA grid, but the Elkmont park will be the first commercial solar system in the county.

“It won’t make a difference to our system,” Scroggins said of the expected power to be produced from the solar park. “Our system is too large.”

Athens Utilities is the only power supplier in Limestone County.

Daikin America Inc. sells power to TVA from a solar panel energy system it built in 2012. The solar panel field behind the 236,000-square-foot Daikin Technical Center on Alabama 20 generates about 200 kilowatts of electricity per month, said Daikin spokesman Forrest Keith.

TVA’s monthly payment to Daikin for the power it produces about offsets the monthly utility bill the company receives from Decatur Utilities for the Technical Center, Keith said.

“We’re generating enough electricity to run the building,” he said.

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Keith Clines can be reached at 256-340-2438 or keith.clines@decaturdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @DD_KeithClines.

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