TVA solar energy limits don’t keep up with demand

August 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Solar array at Memphis Bioworks Foundation parking garage on Union is one of the city's higher profile installations.

Solar array at Memphis Bioworks Foundation parking garage on Union is one of the city’s higher profile installations.

Michael Sheffield
Staff writer- Memphis Business Journal

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The Tennessee Valley Authority released 2.5 megawatts of solar space in the Green Power Providers program Aug., and it took less than a day before it was acquired and exceeded by 20 percent.

Launched by TVA last year, Green Power Providers pays for solar power generated as part of a 20-year contract, providing $1,000 in incentive payments to help offset costs for projects with a size of up to 50 kilowatts.

Earlier this year, TVA had a capacity of 7.5 megawatts for new systems. One megawatt can power 1,000 houses.

A story about TVA’s strategy to address the growth of solar in Tennessee is in today’s issue of MBJ. The utility is under fire from solar installers and organizations in the state who believe it isn’t meeting the growing demand from small businesses who want to install solar arrays.

According to TenneSEIA, which represents the solar industry in Tennessee, the 2.5 megawatts was quickly absorbed by three solar providers in the state.

“TVA’s current program for solar energy development leaves the market under served and as a result, it creates a boom-bust cycle for the industry,” Gil Hough, president of TenneSEIA, said. “There is a proven, market based remedy for the unintended and unnecessary risks to businesses and jobs that TVA’s current solar development program provides and TenneSEIA looks forward to exploring those options with TVA management and its board of directors.”

TVA is planning to meet and discuss solar capacity with the industry during its 2014 budget meeting, scheduled for Aug. 22 in Knoxville.

TVA has other incentive programs available for larger systems, but it is also exploring its options for systems. Companies that install solar arrays can sell the power generated by those arrays back to TVA, resulting in lower electric bills.

Michael Sheffield covers bioscience and biotechnology; manufacturing; tourism and hospitality; and sports business. Contact him at

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