In mid-May 2009, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen proposed the Volunteer State Solar Initiative (VSSI). Backed by $62.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, the state-sponsored program will, according to Bredesen, stimulate job creation within the solar sector, boost Tennessee's economy and increase clean power production within the state.
The Department of Energy has given the green light for Tennessee to use federal stimulus money for solar power projects. Rather than funding residential solar installations--which we hope will be the next use of spare energy funds within the state--the $62 million will be used for a 5 MW solar power generation plant an hour northeast of Memphis, and for a solar research institute at the University of Tennessee that will focus on solar innovations.
Looks like Tennessee is developing a knack for attracting cleantech companies. The German firm Wacker Chemie AG plans to build a $1 billion facility in Bradley County. The factory will produce polycrystalline silicon -- a principal component used to make solar panels -- and is expected to create up to 500 long-term jobs. As relayed by the Nashville Business Journal,