Silicon Ranch | Making Solar Do More
Can Solar Developers and Farmers Find Common Ground?

By Andy Kowalczyk | Canary Media | August 12, 2021

The U.S. will need a lot of new solar to decarbonize the grid, and that’s going to take a lot of land — including some land now used for farming.

This issue is triggering disagreement within the agriculture sector. Some farmers see solar development as a way to bolster their incomes and maximize the value of their land, while others view it as a threat to their livelihoods and communities.

The potential for land-use conflicts has spurred state governments across the U.S. to turn their attention toward rules that address the installation of solar on farmland. A key issue for many is the question of local or state officials should ultimately bear the responsibility of approving solar projects and their selected sites.

Hot debate in the Pelican State

Louisiana, which recently set climate goals, is one state where the issue of solar being situated on farmland is being fiercely debated. Parties on both sides of the issue aired their concerns about solar development rules in recent hearings in the state capital of Baton Rouge. The hearings were prompted by the June passage of SB 185, a bill that directs the state Department of Natural Resources to develop rules for solar siting and end-of-life decommissioning of solar installations.

Major agriculture interests in the state have raised questions about whether solar developers should be eligible for key industrial tax breaks. Others said they were worried about the potential for polluted runoff of pesticides used for vegetation management at solar facilities and the impact of chemicals from solar panels if they are eventually abandoned in fields.

Stephen Wright, executive director of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industry Association, said after the hearings that the most likely outcome from SB 185 is that local governments in Louisiana will continue to have some control over determining how they want neighboring solar facilities to be owned, maintained and decommissioned. To ensure that rules are predictable and fair to local communities, the association is working on model solar siting rules for municipalities across the state.

But not all parties to the debate in Louisiana accept the premise that solar development is good for the state.

“I thought we were an oil and gas state the whole time I’ve been here,” Republican State Sen. Beth Mizell said recently. “If we’re choosing solar over oil and gas, nobody’s told me.”

Yet even oil and gas companies recognize the opportunities to develop solar in Louisiana. Lightsource BP, which is 50% owned by oil and gas giant BP, recently unveiled plans to develop a 300-megawatt solar farm outside Baton Rouge, the largest project announced in the state so far. The company is one of many redefining what it means to be an energy state.

How much land are we talking about?

One of the key concerns raised by agricultural interests is that solar growth could crowd out productive farmland. But how much land would be affected?

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has tallied 462 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects in the interconnection queues of the country’s seven transmission grid operators and 35 large utilities, meaning they’ve submitted an application for interconnection but have not yet firmly committed to being built. That’s more than eight times as much utility-scale solar as is already in operation in the U.S., where nearly 55 gigawatts are currently online.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that 1 megawatt of solar requires 8.3 acres of land. Using these figures, building out the amount of solar in U.S. interconnection queues would require roughly 3.8 million acres. That’s a considerable amount of land, but roughly half of the 7.4 million acres occupied by oil and gas operations across the country, according to a 2015 study in the journal Science. (What’s more, solar development has been shown to be more compatible with agriculture than oil and gas development.)

Still, to meet the country’s annual power needs with renewables by 2050, we’ll need much more land dedicated to large-scale solar over the coming decades. The recent Net-Zero America report from researchers at Princeton estimated that the U.S. could require up to 16 million acres for solar facilities — roughly 2% of the total acreage currently dedicated to farming.

Local vs. state control

Concerns about solar siting are often local in nature, leading to tension between local officials and state leaders. Legislation and regulation on siting vary widely across the country, from states like Louisiana that are leaning toward local control to those like Florida, where the governor recently signed a bill that makes solar facilities a permitted use on agricultural land.

This spring, Indiana lawmakers debated HB 1381, which sought to establish state guidelines that would relax some restrictive siting rules established by local governments. The Indiana General Assembly rejected the bill in April after tense negotiations, despite the addition of an amendment to allow legacy local siting rules to stay in place.

The Great Plains Institute works with local governments to develop model solar ordinances across the states of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the nonprofit Energy Foundation. The Great Plains Institute recently partnered with Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute to publish “Model Solar Ordinance for Indiana Local Governments.” The report outlines both broad and specific best practices that provide the flexibility needed for local governments to adapt to solar farm siting while addressing local concerns.

Oregon, which recently passed a bill setting a 2040 deadline for decarbonizing its electricity sector, makes solar siting decisions through the state-level Energy Facility Siting Council. Though there is a lot of support for renewable energy development in the state, significant clashes with landowners over big solar projects have persisted. After considerable backlash from some rural landowners, an application from developer Hecate Energy to build a solar project on 2,733 acres of land permitted for natural-gas exploration 20 years ago currently hangs in the balance with the siting council.

A sustainable path forward for solar siting

While some states have seen solar growth stymied by land-use disputes, other states have made positive headway.

With 14.1 gigawatts of utility-scale solar, California is far ahead of the rest of the country in terms of installed capacity. But the state has also seen its share of disputes with environmental groups over solar projects seen as damaging to sensitive habitats.

California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the country’s most productive and valuable stretches of agricultural land, making it ripe for an investigation into how solar can share the land with agricultural neighbors.

A report released in 2016 identified low-conflict areas where solar facilities could potentially be sited in the valley, after bringing together stakeholders representing farmland and rangeland, environmental conservation, Native tribes and the solar industry. In these stakeholder groups, open-source digital mapping tools were used to identify roughly 470,000 acres of land best suited for solar development that likely would not engender significant conflict.

Solar development also offers an alternative drought-resistant “crop” for San Joaquin Valley farmlands harmed by the overpumping of groundwater and deposits of crop-killing salts and toxins from inadequately drained irrigation. A 670-megawatt utility-scale solar farm is currently being built by developer CIM Group — the first phase of a 2.7-gigawatt facility that will ultimately sprawl across roughly 20,000 acres in the region. This is an astonishing size for a solar farm, but it still only represents 4% of the total low-conflict land area identified by the report on the San Joaquin Valley.

Farmers in other parts of the U.S., sometimes facing declining prices for their crops, are also turning to solar as a drought-resistant and low-maintenance alternative that can earn $500 to $1,000 per acre annually through a solar lease arrangement.

As climate change escalates, drought and other extreme weather impacts can be expected to cause more U.S. farmland to go fallow, creating additional opportunities for clean energy production that does not displace active farm operations.

Other kinds of agriculture-friendly solar farms have also been documented in recent years. Many success stories have featured solar pollinator projects, which co-locate solar facilities with native plants and honeybee colonies. This integration of land uses provides additional benefits: When pollinator populations are boosted, it helps nearby farms whose crops require pollination.

Local outreach is crucial

Siting rules vary widely across the U.S., but no matter the location, savvy solar developers have one strategy in common: They engage local stakeholders early and often. Ensuring that nearby farmers, landowners and community members have a voice in the process from the beginning seems to be a recipe for success.

Silicon Ranch, a Nashville, Tenn.-based solar developer, pioneered and expanded utility-scale solar in a host of rural counties in Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee, providing the company with the opportunity to help a number of counties adopt responsible, balanced solar siting rules.

In Georgia, for instance, Silicon Ranch worked with several counties to institute a model solar ordinance developed by Georgia Tech in collaboration with a broad set of stakeholders that is “structured to ensure the appropriate balance of diverse and important interests,” said Luke Wilkinson, the company’s senior vice president of project development.

This balance has been at the core of Silicon Ranch’s latest venture, Regenerative Energy — a model for solar development based on mixing agricultural land use with solar energy production. Along with the obvious benefits of combining agricultural and energy production, there is the added plus of creating long-term, good-paying jobs for both electricians and land managers.

“Managing solar lands regeneratively to restore ecosystems while reducing the overall operational costs is key to looking holistically at a solar energy project,” said Michael Baute, director of Regenerative Energy. “There is a technical asset, the plant, housed on a biological asset, the land. Managing our biological assets with livestock not only creates new jobs in the solar industry but also creates additional indirect jobs downstream in the local agricultural economy and regional food system.”

Engaging in efforts like this to build better relationships and communicate the shared benefits of solar could be a powerful strategy for developers in coming years, laying a firm foundation for the Biden administration’s goal of reaching 100% carbon-free energy by 2035.

“The solar industry is looking to put down significant long-term roots” in Louisiana, said Wright of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association. “In order to do that, it is essential we be good stewards of local land and thoughtful neighbors. In return, we hope local residents and policymakers join us with open minds and good intentions.” That’s an approach that could foster solar growth all around the country.

(Lead photo: Gunnar Ridderström/Unsplash)

About the Author

Andy Kowalczyk is a consultant working on clean energy issues within the MISO footprint as well as local and state utility regulatory issues throughout MISO South.


This article was originally published at Canary Media.

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Jerry Hanrahan

Jerry Hanrahan

Senior Advisor to John Hancock Infrastructure Fund

Jerry Hanrahan joined the John Hancock Infrastructure Team in 2001 and was the Team Leader from 2011 until 2016. Under Jerry’s leadership, the Infrastructure Team’s portfolio grew from $17 billion of debt and equity investments to $24 billion. He is currently a Senior Advisor to John Hancock Infrastructure Fund.

Mr. Hanrahan has worked in the financing of the power industry since 1990, as an investor, as a finance officer and as a financial advisor to power companies.

Prior to joining John Hancock in 2001, Mr. Hanrahan worked for four years in the Boston and London offices of power company InterGen, where he coordinated all financing activities on power projects in Turkey, Colombia, and Egypt. Prior to InterGen, Mr. Hanrahan spent nine years in the structured finance and financial advisory divisions of Bank of Tokyo Capital Corporation in Boston. Mr. Hanrahan holds an MBA from Babson College and received his BS from Northeastern University.

Ryan Edwards

Director, Project Finance at Silicon Ranch

“You see the results at the end of the day, that a veteran that came to a company is able to really grow within that role and accrue more responsibility offload from their manager, help train other folks on their team – that pure leadership piece that is extremely valuable for military folks because they had to do it the whole time with their fellow officers or their fellow enlisted.

And that’s where you really get that synergy just by entrusting veterans to really come onto a team and embrace the culture, but also offer some unique perspective. They may not have the years of experience, but the solar industry is constantly evolving, right? So, years of experience could potentially lead you down a rabbit hole in a different direction from where the actual path of solar is going to be in the next five years. You bring in some unique perspectives, somebody that’s not afraid to speak up, but is tactful about it, then you really can have some good discussion on direction down the road…

I think that adaptability kind of lends itself to adversity. Veterans tend to see challenges as something they need to overcome, not as something that shuns them away from getting to the desired solution. I’m not saying that this is unique to the military, but I would say that the majority of folks in the military will definitely look at a challenge and say, this is something that we as a team shall overcome.”

Byron W. Smith

Managing Director, Mountain Group Partners

Byron is a Managing Director of Mountain Group Partners, an investment firm dedicated to investing in and actively guiding transformational businesses in the Life Sciences and Technology sectors. Founded in 2002, Mountain Group Partners principals have invested in more than 30 seed and early stage companies in these sectors. Within technology, Mountain Group Partners’ investments focus on Business Services and Consumer & Healthcare, targeting those ideas with quantifiable development risk and a rapid path to market.

Byron has also taught entrepreneurship as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and been an active angel and venture capital investor.

Jeff Mouland

Managing Director and Head of Global Infrastructure Investments

Jeff leads the TDAM Infrastructure Team and is responsible for investment strategy, asset sourcing and execution, and oversight of acquired assets. He was previously part of the Infrastructure Investments Team at Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments, with multi-sector responsibility for global deal sourcing and execution and developing emerging markets investment strategy for equity investing and project financing within the infrastructure and energy sector. Jeff received his B.Eng in Civil Engineering from Memorial University and an MBA in Finance from McGill University.

Matt Kisber

Chairman of the Board

Matt is a co-founder of Silicon Ranch and served as CEO of the company until becoming Chairman in July 2019. As Chairman, Matt works closely with the company’s executive leadership to set and implement its ambitious growth strategy. Under his leadership, Silicon Ranch has from an idea to become one of the top solar companies in America, with a reputation as a pioneering, innovative, and principled industry leader. Matt brings a unique background to Silicon Ranch having been a business owner and having served eight years as Tennessee Commissioner of Economic Development. He has also worked with industry leaders from across the U.S. and around the globe to bring investments and jobs to Tennessee. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Matt served 10 terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Pradeep Killamsetty

Managing Director, Power & Infrastructure Investment Group at John Hancock Financial Services

Mr. Killamsetty is a Managing Director in Manulife’s infrastructure investment group. He joined John Hancock / Manulife in 2012 and is responsible for origination, execution and asset management of investments in various infrastructure sectors. Over the last ten years with John Hancock, Pradeep has led investments in infrastructure equity and public/ private/ project finance debt of over $5 billion. Pradeep has worked in the infrastructure sector since 2006, as an investor, developer, and a financial advisor. After graduating from business school in 2006, he joined Credit Suisse’s power & utilities investment banking group. At Credit Suisse, he was involved in M&A advisory and financing assignments for various power sector clients. Prior to joining John Hancock, he was at Competitive Power Ventures where he helped develop and finance about 1,000MW of renewable energy and gas fired power projects. Pradeep holds an MBA from University of North Carolina and an M.S in Mechanical Engineering from University of Alabama.

Philip Bredesen

Founding Chairman

Philip Bredesen served as Tennessee’s Governor from 2003 until 2011 and Mayor of Nashville from 1991 until 1999. He is known for his bipartisan approach to problem-solving and his careful fiscal management. Among those who have served in senior elected positions, Governor Bredesen has a unique depth of healthcare experience in both the private and public sectors.

Prior to entering public service, Bredesen worked in the healthcare industry. Between research trips to the public library, he drafted a business plan at his kitchen table that led to the creation of HealthAmerica Corp. in 1980, a Nashville-based healthcare management company. The company eventually grew to more than 6,000 employees and was traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was sold in 1986. Additionally, Gov. Bredesen is considered a serial entrepreneur, having helped start and mentor several successful companies, many of which subsequently became publicly traded on various stock exchanges.

Laura Zapata

President & CEO, Clearloop

Laura Zapata is the CEO and co-founder of Clearloop, a Nashville-based startup that helps companies of all sizes—from established companies like Intuit to innovative startups like Rivian—cut their carbon footprint and expand access to clean energy in the United States. Zapata made a career in crisis communications and reputation management having worked in Congress, political campaigns, and Uber. She’s now helping companies reach their net-zero and other climate goals with tangible climate action that ensures that the environmental, health, and economic benefits of new solar projects reach American communities getting left behind. Zapata is a strong believer that solar can do more if we’re intentional about the communities where we invest and is eager to tap into the economic power of more companies as they seek to tackle their carbon footprint and strive for an equitable clean energy transition. Zapata immigrated from Colombia, was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

Steve Wozniak

Senior Vice President, Engineering

As Vice President of Engineering, Steve’s primary responsibility is to oversee Silicon Ranches PV Power Plant Engineering and Commissioning teams.  Steve has over 33 years in engineering, management, and construction for the Solar and Power industries.  Experience includes all phases of EPC from development through construction and start up.  His leadership roles have encompassed development, multi-disciplined engineering, estimating, procurement, permitting, EHS, project management and construction.  He has 13+ years of design and field experience installing and maintaining over 9 GW of large-scale utility solar power plants, both domestically and internationally.  Steve was also involved in several working groups for solar power such as SEIA and the NEC to help drive the direction of utility scale solar. 

Jen Randolph

Senior Vice President, Human Resources

Jen is responsible for leading our HR function. People are our biggest asset at Silicon Ranch and the people strategies she is creating is helping grow and sustain our team. Jen joined Silicon Ranch with 22 years of HR experience in various industries, most recently in manufacturing with Bridgestone.

Amanda Nichols

Senior Legal Counsel

Amanda counsels Silicon Ranch’s business development, finance, and executive teams, where she supports the negotiation and management of significant transactions and execution of Silicon Ranch’s strategic plans. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Amanda practiced in a large regional law firm advising clients in M&A, corporate finance, and project finance transactions across an array of industries.

Morgan Day

Vice President, Projects

As Vice President of Projects, Morgan is responsible to oversee and execute the day-to-day operations of the LPC (Local Power Companies) and Clearloop portfolio of projects. Responsibilities include planning for projects, estimating, deploying and managing resources including labor, equipment, and subcontractors, and confirming proper close out of projects including ensuring the projects are achieving maximum resource efficiency and effectiveness. Morgan has more than 27 years’ experience with a proven track record of safe, high-quality project execution on time and under budget. His experience spans the power industry from gas turbines to coal fired boiler units and has been primarily focused in renewable energy and solar projects since 2017.

Kati Cook, CPA

Senior Vice President, Controller

Matt Brown

Vice President, Business Development

Matt serves as Vice President, Business Development for Silicon Ranch and has been with the company for nearly 9 years. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Matt worked in various management capacities at TVA both in renewable energy program management and economic development. Matt and his team are responsible for developing community and utility solutions for distributed and utility scale solar projects across multiple geographies in the Southeast, developing win-win-win solutions for all partners.

Luke Wilkinson

Senior Vice President, Project Development

Luke manages the Project Development team at Silicon Ranch. His team is responsible for identifying greenfield assets, negotiating land agreements, community and economic development, permitting, and de-risking assets prior to handing off the projects to the engineering and construction teams. Luke ensures his team keeps projects on schedule and budget through the development lifecycle.

Tyler Whitmore

Senior Vice President, Process Improvement

Tyler works with the Executive Team and other members of the organization to develop and implement processes to support and streamline several of the Company’s initiatives, as well as addresses ad-hoc requests for the Executive Team during rotational assignments. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Tyler worked at Mountain Group Partners, a venture capital firm where he served as Vice President and either in board or visitor roles for multiple portfolio companies, and successfully executed on over 150 financings and transactions across more than 45 different companies. Before starting at Mountain Group Partners, Tyler worked as an Investment Banker at Sagent Advisors (now DC Advisory) in the Automotive and Industrial vertical groups. Tyler graduated Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University in 2010 with a BS in Engineering Science and a minor in Financial Economics.

Nick de Vries

Chief Technology Officer

Nick is responsible for managing all aspects of the company’s operating portfolio, as well as technology decisions for new projects. Nick has more than 20 years of diverse renewable energy, semiconductor, and military experience that inform his current work, including executive positions at SolarCity, Phoenix Solar, and Applied Materials.

Nick’s renewable energy industry expertise spans module and cell manufacturing, photovoltaic project design and operation, auxiliary grid services, as well as the prediction and demonstration of the energy harvest of novel PV technologies. He has also worked on manufacturing amorphous silicon modules, and on process machine control of cell splitting and cascading cell bonding processes with heterojunction crystalline cells. Silicon Ranch owns—and Nick now operates—projects that he himself designed nearly a decade ago, including the first transmission interconnected PV plant in the Southeast. Nick holds patents in both PV module manufacturing and design.

While at Applied Materials, he advanced the use of statistical process control to enhance the reliability of production equipment. He has led the commissioning of process equipment at Intel semiconductor factories in both the U.S. and Europe, and entire solar cell factories in India, Germany, Spain, and China.

Nick served his country on active duty as an Infantry Captain in the United States Army, with tours in Kuwait and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University.

Nick is a regular speaker at industry events and has authored several articles. His current passions are the use of predictive analytics to improve performance of solar power plants and the integration of solar farms with regenerative agriculture practices—mostly with sheep and cattle. Hear him talk about it about it on NPR.

Paul Russell

Senior Vice President, Project Delivery

Paul Russell oversees the procurement department at Silicon Ranch Corporation, a fully integrated provider of customized renewable energy, carbon and battery storage solutions. During his nearly six years at Silicon Ranch, Paul has worn many hats and been instrumental in Silicon Ranch’s growth during this period. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Paul worked as in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 energy company and an international law firm in Houston, Texas. Before attending law school, Paul taught high school special education in the Mississippi Delta through Teach for America.

John Marcarelli

Senior Vice President, Business Development

John leads the business development and origination efforts for Silicon Ranch and the expansion of utility-scale power plants, storage, and value-added energy services into new geographies. The origination team works electric cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, and commercial clients to achieve their economic and sustainability goals through cost-effective energy solutions. John has worked in the renewable energy industry for over two decades, covering all aspects of the value chain, from small-scale, off-grid power systems to heading up US origination for a global distribution company. John joined Silicon Ranch in 2015 following several years with the global engineering procurement and construction (EPC) firm that built Silicon Ranch’s early projects.

Gaurab Hazarika

Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Initiatives

Todd Aquino

Executive Vice President, Energy Delivery

As Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery, Todd’s primary responsibility is to oversees silicon Ranches Utility Planning, Interconnection, Substation Engineering and Development Engineering teams. Todd has provided quality leadership and electrical designs for electric utility, industrial and other clients for over 31 years. His leadership role encompasses directing groups of multi-disciplined engineers and designers in support of engineering and construction projects. His design work includes electrical renewable integration, energy storage, substation physical layout, equipment selection, bus design, grounding design, panel wiring, and control house design. He has field experience installing and maintaining large scale battery, inverters, and flywheel systems for industrial clients.

Andrew Katz

Executive Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Development

Andrew works directly with the Executive Team to lead the development and implementation of the Company’s corporate strategic plan thereby enhancing the analysis of and response to market conditions, and ensuring proactive monitoring and identification of sources of capital to meet outstanding and planned commitments. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Andrew served as a VP in Morgan Stanley’s Global Power & Utilities practice within the Investment Banking Division where he played a lead role in Silicon Ranch’s 2020 equity raise. Andrew earned a BA in Economics from Rollins College in 2009 and an MBA from The Yale School of Management in 2016.

Richard Johnson

General Counsel

Richard is responsible for managing all legal functions for Silicon Ranch Corporation and its solar energy projects, including corporate governance matters, regulatory matters, financing and development transactions, construction and procurement, acquisitions, and project management affairs. Before joining Silicon Ranch, Richard was an attorney in the corporate transactional group at Venable LLP in Washington, DC, where he represented clients in connection with M&A and financing transactions as well as general corporate governance matters.

Boris Schubert

Chief Operating Officer

Boris Schubert has been driving the energy transition for more than 20 years with a focus on global renewable power development. As Silicon Ranch’s Chief Operating Officer and President of its subsidiary SR EPC, Boris is charged with enabling and leading the future growth of Silicon Ranch by expanding its project inventory into new markets and use cases across the U.S. and by combining SRC’s Development and Delivery activities into one Integrated Deployment model. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Boris served as General Manager of Renewable Power Development at Shell, globally leading a push to provide cleaner energy solutions.

Michael Payne, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Michael is responsible for managing all aspects of Silicon Ranch Corporation’s finance and accounting functions. Michael oversees the company’s internal and external financial reporting, regulatory and reporting compliance, and accounting operations. Michael brings over 20 years of financial reporting and accounting experience in a wide variety of industries for both public and private companies. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch, Michael worked on the corporate finance team of Asurion and previously worked for Ernst & Young in Nashville and Brussels, Belgium.

Matt Beasley

Chief Commercial Officer

As Chief Commercial Officer, Matt manages the interface between Silicon Ranch and external stakeholders, including customers, local communities, and the broader industry, with additional focus on business development and corporate strategy. Matt is also a member of the Company’s Board of Directors. Since Matt joined the team in early 2015, Silicon Ranch has grown from an early-stage startup to become one of the largest and fastest-growing independent power producers in the country.

Matt brings more than twenty years of global communications expertise, business development leadership, and entrepreneurial experience to the company’s executive leadership team. Prior to joining Silicon Ranch in 2015, Matt held assignments in New York, Tokyo, and London to develop and implement marketing strategies for large multinational clients. He later led business development efforts across a range of strategic initiatives for one of the country’s premier infrastructure firms. From late 2015 to early 2019, Matt served as President of the Tennessee state chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA).

Matt graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

Erin Hanratty

Erin Hanratty

Project Manager II at Silicon Ranch

“Ryan, you mentioned the entrusting to other people – it was kind of wired within all of us while we were in the military. You had to learn how to trust the people you’re with, because you were working so closely on teams and with teams. At the end of the day, teamwork was the hallmark of success. So that’s just instilled in us to – not to automatically just trust everyone, but to learn how to cultivate that trust. Because at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to make an organization successful and what you really need for any sort of team to be successful. Especially, like we said, in this high-pace, changing environment…

I think it’s extremely important to be pulling in vets, not just at Silicon Ranch, but to the whole energy industry, because the soft skills and the adaptability are really key to the person doing well in that kind of volatile, robust industry. Those skill sets will help grow the industry through these volatile and robust times.

It’s been really refreshing also to see at Silicon Ranch that we’re not just pulling in from one branch. There hasn’t been one cliche or cookie-cutter pathway of the same community from the military where we’re recruiting from. It’s all across the board. We have several Navy, we have a bunch of Army, we have some Air Force. So that’s also a key thing to remember in the recruitment of vets – it’s such a wide spectrum of experiences that can be capitalized on, and can contribute from different branches and communities in the military. So that’s been really cool to see here at Silicon Ranch as well.”

Reagan Farr

President & Chief Executive Officer

As Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Silicon Ranch, Reagan is responsible for ongoing operations and execution of the company’s strategic growth plan. Under his leadership, Silicon Ranch has grown from an idea to become one of the largest independent power producers in the United States, while successfully commissioning every project the company has contracted since it began operations in 2011. From developing the initial ambitious plan for Silicon Ranch to growing a company that has earned a global reputation as one of the premier solar energy providers in the industry, Reagan has been instrumental to the company’s growth. Reagan also serves on Silicon Ranch’s Board of Directors.

Reagan grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. He graduated from Louisiana State University in 1993 and from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1998 with a law degree. He worked for both KPMG and Ernst & Young in the area of state and local taxes from 1998 until 2003, when he joined the Bredesen administration as Deputy Commissioner of Revenue. He became Commissioner of Revenue in 2006, and when Bredesen left office in 2011 joined with him and Matt Kisber in forming Silicon Ranch.