It’s been almost a week since a new source of power moved into the Jackson power grid, thanks to the efforts of Clearloop, a first-of-its-kind solar project that will bring enough renewable energy to power 200 West Tennessee homes every year for the next 40 years.
Nestled on a 12-acre property on the edge of Highway 70, event organizers—along with a flood of elementary school children from Grahamwood Elementary School—flipped the switch on the thousands of solar panels, beginning Jackson’s renewable energy journey.
“This is so exciting!” said Laura Zapata, CEO of Clearloop, a clean energy corporation. “We were standing here a year ago, and it was an empty field— it’s really happening now!”
The Tennessee-based company, the brainchild of Zapata, former Governor Phil Bredesen and renewable energy entrepreneur Bob Corney, was developed with the support of 11 organizations, and will reportedly prevent 60 million pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere.
The company functions similarly to a crowd-funding project, allowing corporations to invest in the number of solar panels that will offset their carbon footprint, effectively “closing the loop” on clean energy. The power generated by the panels is already being fielded into Jackson Energy Authority, where it will power over 200 homes for the next 40 years.
“The companies wanted to offset their carbon footprint—they wanted to have a way to measure impact and say ‘You know what, we’re going to do something about the environment,’” Zapata explained. “So instead of purchasing trees for example, they’ve helped us develop this brand solar project. It’s excellent because we know that these electrons are going somewhere in West Tennessee.”
Kyle Spurgeon, CEO of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, attended the ceremony and praised the opportunities the solar field will bring to a rapidly-developing West Tennessee.
“This solar ranch propels the Jackson community forward via a steady supply of accessible renewable energy for decades to come,” said Kyle Spurgeon, CEO of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. “We’re proud to partner with Clearloop and welcome innovative projects that help support economic development in West Tennessee.”
157 children from Grahamwood Elementary School’s 5th grade class assisted in the ceremonial flipping of the switch as part of their STEM curriculum, which heavily focused on renewable energy.
“They are so interested in what’s going on and how it works, and how can we change the world with this,” said the school’s STEM Coordinator Sylvia Albert, who was leading the small army of children around the solar field. “Because right now, the power grids in the world are not going to last much longer. And with climate change, (the kids) figured all of this out. They did all of the research in my class to understand solar energy. And now we’re here to experience science in action.”
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