Solar’s Undeterred Performance: Winter Storm Elliott

December 23 and 24, 2022, Winter Storm Elliott brought unprecedented cold temperatures and wind to the TVA region, leading to TVA’s highest winter power peak in its 90-year history. Due to this unforeseen demand — exceeding the amount of electricity TVA could produce for its Local Power Companies (LPCs) — TVA instituted rolling blackouts across the Valley to ensure the entire resiliency of the grid.

Silicon Ranch is proud to be the leading solar power provider and partner in the Tennessee Valley since bringing online the first large-scale solar projects in the region, and we are pleased that our projects provided support to TVA and the LPCs during this unprecedented weather event.

As the long-term owner of every project we develop, we monitor each of our more than 150 solar facilities around the clock, and have compiled data surrounding the performance of our portfolio in the Valley during Winter Storm Elliott.

The data we collected shows our projects continued to operate at peak performance throughout the duration of the historic weather event, and enabled the LPCs with distributed Flexibility Solar Projects tied to their system to reduce the number of members that they had to curtail and cut power to, increasing system resiliency.

Solar energy systems thrive in colder temperatures which enhance the energy production efficiency due to the increase in voltage of the solar cells. Furthermore, solar panels create electricity from the sun’s light, not from the sun’s heat. These factors helped our plants stay online and perform well during the storm, just as the blackout mandate occurred.

“Bolivar Energy Authority’s partnership with Silicon Ranch through TVA’s flexibility program was a huge benefit and success during the rolling blackouts of the Winter Storm Elliott. The Bolivar 3.45 MW farm went live on December 21, 2022, right before Winter Storm Elliott hit. Bolivar Energy was able to power over 300 homes from the solar farm during the rolling blackouts. This helped BEA meet the load reduction required from TVA during this time. This was a huge benefit for our customers and BEA.”

— Tony Kirk, President of Bolivar Energy Authority
Winter storm elliott
Winter storm elliott

*Silicon Ranch’s Aggregate Generation Profile includes nearly 40 projects from across the Tennessee Valleys

Figures 1&2: The data displayed in Figures 1 &2 above is the amount of energy that our projects generated during the blackout events on 12/23/2022 and 12/24/2022. This means that during the blackout periods, the LPCs who had distribution-level solar projects interconnected to their grid could limit blackouts and customer interruptions. This enabled the LPCs with Flexibility Solar Projects tied to their system to reduce the number of members that they had to curtail and cut power to, increasing grid resiliency.

“BrightRidge has developed a strong business relationship with Silicon Ranch, partnering on a 5 MW solar farm under the old Distributed Solar Solutions program and, more recently, a 9 MW generation flexibility project. Both of these projects produce substantial generation for our customers, lowering costs while providing redundant supply. The recent severe cold snap proved the value of local solar. Neighbors on local circuits serving the solar farms didn’t lose power as we needed to ensure generation reached the market. And, with solar generation throughout the valley, TVA was able to exit curtailment faster as solar was largely unaffected by the cold temperatures.”

— Jeff Dykes, President and CEO of BrightRidge
TN Valley map

Valuable insights into the performance of solar during Winter Storm Elliott:

Reliability and Resilience

Solar energy systems are reliable sources of energy, even during severe winter storms. Unlike traditional energy resources that rely on imported fuel, solar energy systems generate power from the sun, making them less vulnerable to constrained fuel supplies. During Winter Storm Elliott, LPCs with a flexibility project were better equipped to keep the lights on for their customers.

Energy Independence

Flexibility Projects allow LPCs to have more control of local load, reducing their dependence on TVA through the central power grid. With solar energy systems under the Flexibility Program, LPCs can generate their own electricity, ensuring continuous supply even during power outages.


Solar energy systems can help LPCs better predict the cost of the energy to their customers, even in the face of such unprecedented circumstances as Winter Storm Elliott. Long-term power purchase agreements allow the LPC to buy power at a fixed rate for 30 years, meaning the LPCs that did have access to solar energy through the Flexibility Program did not have to pay any more for that energy during the historic winter storm than they would have on a mild spring day.

Solar energy systems provide value to the grid throughout the year, including during winter storms. The LPC Flexibility Program serves as a prime example of the importance of having distributed alternative sources of energy, especially during extreme weather conditions. Solar energy systems offer reliability, energy independence, and cost savings, making them essential for LPCs across the TVA region.

“The Snapps Ferry site was never curtailed and it contributed generation throughout this period. The solar site (another 4.75 MW) was able to get in the range of 50% of the capacity of this site at peak and there was significant generation throughout this period. I was pleasantly surprised at how much generation our solar installation was able to provide in these conditions. I am sure that customers that share these circuits would be more prone to support these projects if they realized it would give them some protection in rolling blackout scenarios.”

— Chuck Bowlin, President & CEO of Greeneville Energy Authority

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