The Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA) has called on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to expand the capacity of solar power it allows under its Green Power Providers program. The move was prompted by the federal power authority's April 24 announcement of the program's closure after its 10 MW cap had been reached.
While the TVA announced last week that it would add an additional 2.5 MW to the program, effective August 1, TenneSEIA is after the agency to pursue what it calls a ‘market-driven approach.’
‘We'd like to see the TVA abandon the arbitrary model,’ says TenneSEIA Secretary Mary Shaffer Gill. Although welcoming the TVA's announced 2.5 MW expansion, she indicated targets should be set much higher. ‘The cap creates a boom-and-bust cycle.’
The TVA's Green Power Providers program, launched in 2012 as a successor to its Generation Partners pilot program, offers ratepayers incentives to build renewable power generation systems. The size limit for a given system is 50 kW, with various formulas based on total capacity and the customer's energy usage influencing the eligibility and approval process. The TVA buys energy produced by the systems at the going rate per kWh plus a premium of nine cents for solar and three cents for wind, biomass and small-scale hydro power.Â
Shaffer Gill, who is also vice president of installer ARiES Energy LLC, is advocating that the TVA significantly increase the MW target it makes available for the program while decreasing the premiums it pays to participants based on the total amount of solar installed.
TenneSEIA, which had requested an additional 5 MW be added to the Green Power Providers program for the rest of the year, wants to prevent layoffs among installers whose work dries up after caps are reached. The organization is hoping to explore options for regularizing solar incentive programs with the TVA before the latter's budget meeting in Knoxville on August 22.