RELEASE DATE: June 25, 2013
Solar industry calls for market driven approach to TVA solar programs
Industry group urges TVA to reconfigure solar programs to meet market demand, retain
workforce and enable clean, low cost energy in the Valley
Knoxville, Tenn.—TenneSEIA, the state business association representing the solar
industry, responded to the closure of TVA’s solar programs today by publically urging the
authority to abandon the practice of setting arbitrary calendar year caps on solar
installations and instead, adopt a market driven model that decreases incentives based on
the amount of solar installed and incorporates the value of solar energy into the budgeting
process. TenneSEIA hopes to resolve these issues prior to the TVA Board of Directors
voting on the 2014 budget at its August 22nd meeting in Knoxville.
“Consumer demand for solar energy has grown faster than TVA’s ability to adjust, therefore
leaving the market underserved, restricting the investment of private capital and creating
unnecessary uncertainty for businesses,” said Gil Hough, president of TenneSEIA.
“TenneSEIA is committed to working with TVA to create a fair and market driven approach
to solar energy development in the Valley.”
TenneSEIA quickly sprang into action to work with TVA after the April 24th program
TenneSEIA requested two main actions from TVA over the course of email correspondence
and two meetings with executives:
1) Immediately address shortcomings in the Green
Power Providers program that pose significant and unnecessary threats to the industry and
2) develop a market based approach to solar energy development in Tennessee.
TVA announced its response to TenneSEIA’s recommendations at a solar stakeholder
meeting last week. TVA agreed to add an additional 2.5 megawatts of unused capacity back
into the Green Power Providers program effective August 1st. TenneSEIA requested five
megawatts for the remainder of 2013 as a stopgap measure to prevent workforce erosion
and business impacts in the short term.
TVA also announced it was open to discussing a market based approach for solar energy
development in the Tennessee Valley and suggested a July 23, 2013 meeting date as a next
step. Specifically, TenneSEIA requested:
1) TVA abandon the practice of using an arbitrary, calendar year model for solar
2) Adopt a market driven approach for solar energy development that does not close
or place caps on the solar program. Instead, create a program where incentives
decrease based on the total amount of solar installed, as TenneSEIA outlined in a 2011 memo to TVA’s Board of Directors.
3) Account for the true value of solar energy during the budget process and when
developing solar programs. Nationally recognized electricity industry expert, Karl
Rábago, explained during a TenneSEIA stakeholder meeting last week that solar
energy can apply downward pressure on electricity rates because of the value it
provides utilities. That value comes in the form of avoided cost of fuel, infrastructure
and capital investment. Not to mention the environmental attributes and Solar
Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) TVA receives that are tradable, non-tangible
energy commodities that represent proof that 1megawatt-hour (MWh) of
electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.
“TenneSEIA is grateful for TVA’s willingness to work with the industry, and we hope we can
use this experience as a launching point for a robust and meaningful collaboration with
TVA,” said Steve Johnson, president of LightWave Solar with offices in Memphis, Nashville
and Johnson City.
Johnson says the demand for solar energy is so high that the additional 2.5 megawatts of
unused capacity will last for just one day. Proving, Johnson says, that TVA’s caps for solar
energy are too low and the market is underserved. That is the kind of uncertainty and
boom-bust cycle TenneSEIA wants to prevent with future solar programs coming out of
“Solar energy development programs should never close, consumers should never be
denied access to the market and they should be fairly compensated for investing their own,
private capital into generating electricity for a utility,” said John Nevel, a CPA and managing
director of The Boro Group. Nevel also serves on TenneSEIA’s board of directors.
A market-based model for solar energy development takes into account the value solar
energy provides a utility by avoiding costs it would incur if the utility had built that same
capacity itself, instead of relying on private capital to build and maintain the power source,
like solar energy.
Also, market based approaches for solar energy development decrease incentives based on
the total megawatts of solar energy installed, rather than closing the program completely.
This kind of approach aligns supply and demand with the decreasing costs of installing
To put solar energy generation into perspective, it would take 200 years, at a rate of 20
megawatts of solar installed per year, to bring solar energy to just five percent of TVA’s
To interview a TenneSEIA member or board member about the economic impact of
Tennessee’s solar energy industry and the Green Power Providers program, contact Gil
Hough, President of TenneSEIA at (865) 789-5482 or Cortney Piper at 865-789-2669 or
TenneSEIA is the state chapter for the national Solar Energy Industries Association, and
represents the interests of the solar energy industry in Tennessee. The mission of
TenneSEIA is to make solar energy a mainstream energy source and realize the full
potential of the solar industry in Tennessee. The Association serves as the primary
advocacy group for the solar industry in Tennessee.
Gil Hough, President, TenneSEIA, 865-789-5482
Steve Johnson, Vice President, TenneSEIA, 615-294-9630
For more information about TenneSEIA, please visit www.tenneseiasolar.com.
For more information about the United States solar market, click here to read the 2012
Solar Market Insight Report: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-usaccounted-11-percent-of-the-global-solar-market-in-2012