EPB and TVA broke ground on Solar Share, a project that will allow area residents to invest in solar energy. (Photo: Staff)

EPB broke ground on a new project this morning that will make renewable energy more easily available to area residents.

EPB and TVA will be building 4,408 solar panels that will be able to power 200 Chattanooga homes through a project called Solar Share. This project will be the first community solar installation and will cost about $2 million to build, with EPB and TVA halving the cost.

Even though costs are split, EPB will continue to be the owner of the solar panels. All energy generated by the solar panels will be sold back to TVA for distribution.

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“EPB is proud to establish Solar Share as a lasting community asset, which will generate renewable energy for years to come,” Joe Ferguson, EPB board of directors chairman, said in a prepared statement.

Residents will be able to reserve solar panels to power their homes by either paying for them upfront or on a monthly basis. The solar panels will also remain at EPB, allowing residents to use solar panels without having them installed on their homes.

EPB has not decided on prices for the panels.

“EPB and TVA are anchors to this part of Tennessee,” Mayor Andy Berke said at a news conference before the groundbreaking. “This is what the Innovation District is supposed to do.”

The solar panels will be open for reservations beginning in early summer and will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. Residents interested in reserving solar panels may do so through EPB’s website or by calling EPB when the project nears completion.

“[Our] main priority has always been customer service,” David Wade, EPB president and CEO, said. “Solar Share is such an exciting opportunity because [the customers] now have this option.”

EPB will look at expanding the number of solar panels in the future based on the response it gets from the local community.

For more information on EPB, click here.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is also currently attending UTC, where she is the news editor for the school newspaper, The University Echo.

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