By: Chris Ann Lunghino
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we take this opportunity to highlight the many talented women who make up our team at Silicon Ranch, from those just beginning their careers to experienced professionals who are leaders in every corner of our company. These days it is rare to find a Silicon Ranch project in which women have not played critical roles.
The Millington Solar Farm at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South is a prime example of a facility that our company brought online, owns, and maintains, thanks to significant contributions from our female workforce. The Millington project at NSA Mid-South is the largest operating solar farm in the state of Tennessee. The innovative project was the result of a unique public-private partnership that brought together the City of Millington, the U.S. Navy, Memphis Light, Gas and Water(MLGW), TVA, and Silicon Ranch with a shared vision to support the local community and the naval base. Women representing virtually every department in our company have made valuable contributions to this project over the past few years.
To illustrate this claim, I asked several of my fellow female Ranchers to share their perspectives on their contributions to the Millington project, from development to post-commissioning to ongoing operations. Here is what they had to say:
“Millington was my first project at Silicon Ranch, which makes it even more special because I was the lead Project Development Manager and continue to be the Project Manager in charge of Millington to this day,” says Ali Weaver, Director, Project Development.
“I was the project manager for the Millington project, responsible for managing Silicon Ranch’s partner contractors providing engineering, procurement, and construction support for both the PV plant, the substation, and the distribution line,” recalls Jennifer Cain, Director of Project Management. “It was such a rewarding process to help all of the stakeholders’ various objectives fit together to make a successful project. It was also a great feeling knowing I was involved in a project that directly benefitted Base resiliency at NSA MidSouth!”
As you might imagine, financial stability and a demonstrated ability to fulfill contractual obligations is of upmost importance to our company, partners, customers, and the communities we serve, and Millington is no different. Who played critical roles to enable Silicon Ranch to fund the Millington facility you might ask? Women.
Silicon Ranch’s Director of Plant Engineering, Tasha McCarter, supported the project’s financing by, “responding to the Independent Engineer Q&A, and serving as the supporting Project Engineer, which included working with TMEIC, the central inverter equipment vendor, to produce the dynamic models that the utility needed to give the greenlight for initial sync.”
Another female Rancher who was essential in the financing of the project was Amanda Nichols, Silicon Ranch’s Legal Counsel for Commercial Transactions. “In my prior life as outside counsel to Silicon Ranch, I worked on the tax credit financing for Millington,” says Amanda. “Additionally, since joining Silicon Ranch, I was part of the team that led the acquisition of the Millington II development.”
Silicon Ranch’s Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications, Cara Kovach, planned and oversaw the ‘Flip the Switch’ event for the Millington Solar Farm, formally inaugurating production at the 53 MWac site. “It was exciting to work with the Department of the Navy, TVA, and MLGW to develop this first-of-its-kind partnership and to celebrate the commissioning of Millington in our home state,” said Cara. Additionally, Cara coordinated video production at Millington to support Shell’s initiative to highlight its New Energies businesses in a short film titled, “How are solar farms energizing communities?” It’s also worth pointing out that Tasha McCarter is featured as the subject matter expert in the video.
As is the case with our entire portfolio, Silicon Ranch owns and operates the Millington Solar Farm. To ensure that operations of our facilities are meeting requirements, the company is able to monitor, in real time, each of our more than 140 facilities from coast to coast. For this particular facility, Silicon Ranch Performance Engineer, Kelly Carr, is a part of the team monitoring the facility. Kelly joined us in 2019 as an intern and is now a Performance Engineer on our Operations and Management team.
“As a Performance Engineer, I am one of a team of people that monitor availability and performance at Millington and submit warranty claims to the appropriate parties,” says Kelly. “I have also led an analysis that determined the overall production impact of NEXTracker’s TrueCapture software at the site in 2020.”
In addition to writing this blog post, in my position as Director of Policy and Communications, I have had the opportunity to play an ongoing role in telling the story of Millington, which began when I drafted the press release announcing the launch of Regenerative Energy® at the facility. That press release in turn generated several local stories, including one published in the Daily Memphian.
I have also had the pleasure of photo-documenting Regenerative Energy® in action at Millington. You can find these photos online at our brand new Regenerative Energy® website! And I’ve hosted groups and organizations at Millington that are interested in learning more about Regenerative Energy® and to see it in action..
The women that have made this project possible do not stop at Silicon Ranch. Female leaders from the unique partner organizations that made this project possible include Vickie Jones from the Department of the Navy and Becky Williamson of MLGW.
At Silicon Ranch, we value the women who make up our team in each and every department and at every level, from entry to leadership roles. Our Rancher females are some of the best employees and team members in our industry, and we are thrilled and fortunate that they have chosen to advance the solar industry with us.
About the Author:
Chris Ann Lunghino
Director, Policy & Communications
Chris brings extensive communications and policy expertise to Silicon Ranch, developed through her prior positions as an attorney, communications consultant, and renewable energy policy advocate. At Silicon Ranch, Chris focuses on expanding project development through cultivation and analysis of policy insights, drafting of corporate communications, development of project proposals, and local advocacy and community outreach.