Aerial of River Bend solar farm
Aerial view of River Bend. (Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Valley Authority)

The largest solar energy project in Alabama is now online.

Stowe: “It is a 640-acre solar energy center. There’s about 300,000 solar panels that will be able to produce enough power to supply about 15,000 homes with carbon-free electricity.”

That’s Jay Stowe, vice president of distributed energy resources for the Tennessee Valley Authority. The utility provides electricity to nine million people in parts of seven southeastern states.

Stowe says the electricity produced at the River Bend Solar Energy Center will keep more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year. That’s like taking more than 22,000 cars off the road for one year.

But he says the economic benefits are just as important.

Stowe: “During construction, it employed over 350 workers, and most of those were from the local area.”

And the solar farm will continue to support the local economy.

Stowe: “The project will add more than nine million dollars in property taxes to support local schools and services.”

And with plenty of free sunshine falling on Alabama, those benefits will last for years to come.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...