The Development Corporation of Knox County (TDC), Restoration Services, Inc. (RSI), and Vis Solis with their numerous partners hosted an Earth Day celebration of success and plug-in ceremony at Eastbridge Business Park on Friday, April 21.
Local and state officials and business professionals gathered at the scenic location to celebrate the recent successes in the 800-acre business park including a new, one-megawatt (MW) solar array, the extension of Holston Bend Drive, and a recent grant award for $500,000 toward the extension of wastewater treatment within the business park. Three of the park’s development sites, totaling 121 acres, have also recently been designated by the State as Select Tennessee Certified Sites.
“Earth Day reminds me of the importance of using our limited resources efficiently, and really I can think of no better way for us to positon ourselves to be able to protect the Earth’s resources than to facilitate the creation of good jobs for its inhabitants,” said Todd Napier, president and CEO of TDC. “Environmental stewardship and economic development, in my mind, are very intrinsically related.”
Representatives from the State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Knox County, the City of Knoxville, TDC, RSI, Vis Solis, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy addressed the crowd. They spoke to the importance of partnerships in economic development initiatives, as well as the significant impact the additions at Eastbridge Business Park will have in recruiting new jobs and capital investment.
“As an environmental services firm, it’s very important to our company and our employees that we engage in sustainability initiatives,” said Paul Clay, president of RSI. “[The solar array] is a sustainable economic development initiative in the county. We’re putting the power back on the grid, and we think it will be attractive to businesses as they look to relocate or locate here in this industrial park.”
City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero touted the city’s dedication to sustainable energy and its recent initiatives, before leading the plug-in ceremony for the 1-MW solar array. The project, a solar photovoltaic electric power generating facility, was developed on TDC property under a partnership between RSI Inc. and Vis Solis. It will sell electric power to TVA through an interconnection with KUB.
“The City of Knoxville is committed to making Knoxville a sustainable city – one where the economy, environment, and community can thrive,” Mayor Rogero said. “Projects like the Eastbridge solar farm, one of the largest solar installations in Knox County, help make that vision a reality. We know that economic development and sustainability are not at odds, rather they go hand-in-hand. This project, a major solar investment at an industrial park, truly symbolizes that relationship.”