Solar power plant prepares for decrease in production during eclipse

The total solar eclipse is almost here. With hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to our area charging their phones and plugging in campers, you can bet the electrical grid will be feeling the pressure.

A recent report by Bloomberg predicts the eclipse will wipe out more than 9,000 megawatts of solar power across the nation, enough electricity for 7 million homes. But power suppliers in our area say they’re not worried.

Dave Wright operates a solar power plant in Mayfield, Kentucky. He says he’s eager to see what will happen when the moon covers the sun on Aug. 21.

“We expect, obviously, to see a tremendous drop off in our production and what we put out, and we’re going to monitor it really close,” says Wright. “Curiosity as much as anything. I don’t expect there to be any kind of an issue around here.”

That’s because most companies in our area don’t rely solely on solar to power the grid. Wright works with the Tennessee Valley Authority, which helps provide electricity to parts of west Kentucky and Tennessee. Scott Brooks is a spokesperson there.

“We’re preparing for it basically like any other busy holiday weekend,” says Brooks. “Anytime you have a big festival or an event that draws large crowds, you do have to make sure that the grid is stable and ready, and in this case it certainly is.”

Several power companies on the local level say they’re also ready for the influx in demand, helping keep your home lit during total darkness.

To help ease the strain on the grid, West Kentucky Rural Electric suggests running your dryer or dishwasher later in the night on the day of the eclipse.

A spokesperson with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says their solar powered systems have enough battery power to go three or four days with no sunshine.