TVA Threatens Solar Industry in the Valley

The graph below shows the amount of solar installed in TVA’s residential and small commercial solar program, Green Power Providers, since 2009. You can see that solar installs have been falling since 2012 and only 1.5 MW of solar was installed in the first half of this year!

TVA and Solar

Solar installations sky rocketed in 2011, and TVA began cutting back the program. The market withstood the drops in the incentive payments since solar costs were falling significantly as well. However, system size limits and program caps have resulted in a program that undercuts the solar market.

Long story short: The demand for solar is higher than TVA’s 10 MW cap, and the extremely low cap has nearly killed the region’s solar industry. Though capacity is set at 10 MW, it is highly unlikely that 10 MW will actually be built in 2014 due to TVA’s approval process. We estimate 5-6 MW of solar will be installed in 2014.

As solar continues to grow nationally, as peer utilities set much bigger solar goals, and with solar prices at their lowest, TVA should double or triple solar program capacity, or get rid of the stifling cap altogether. If you would like to help, you can email the TVA board members at board@tva.gov. Feel free to include the graph above and let them know you would like to see more solar installed in the Valley.
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LightWave Solar on 2014 Top 400 U.S. Solar Contractors List

LightWave Solar on 2014 Top 400 Solar Contractor's List

Solar Power World magazine recently released their 2014 Top 400 Solar Contractors list which ranks companies based on megawatts of solar installed in 2013.

Despite TVA’s program closure last year, LightWave Solar ranked #160 overall and #75 on the Top 100 Commercial Solar Contractors list.

We are the first commercial-scale Tennessee installer on both lists!

Check out the full report here.

LightWave Solar Installing Largest Solar PV-EV Parking System in TN

Experienced engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm LightWave Solar continues to help lead Middle Tennessee towards a cleaner future with the installation of two new solar photovoltaic (PV) parking canopies at City Square Shopping Center in Hendersonville, located about 20 miles north of Nashville. The highly visible solar canopies are designed to power the shopping center’s 10 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. At 47.5 kilowatts, the solar parking system will be the largest in Tennessee. Construction began this month.

“The solar canopies will demonstrate their inherent benefits including shade, shelter, and clean, renewable electricity for EVs and the local power grid,” says City Square Shopping Center owner, Greg Smith, who has as many or more public EV charging stations than any site in Tennessee.  “When our shoppers’ and tenants’ EVs are powered by solar, they will have an even smaller carbon and pollutant footprint since the fuel used to charge the vehicles will be sunlight.”

Read full press release here

Industry Update: TVA Solar Initiatives Fall Short

Capacity has been reached in TVA’s two solar programs, Green Power Providers (GPP) and Solar Solutions Initiative (SSI). TVA is not approving new applications at this time. However, LightWave Solar will sign contingent contracts and complete utility paperwork to be ready to submit project applications as soon as TVA releases capacity.

TVA

We are requesting that TVA make the following actions to smooth out the program:

1. On June 1, 2013, reinstate unused/expired capacity in GPP from the fourth quarter 2012. It is our understanding that approximately 20 percent of the approved capacity from that period was actually built within the 180-day time limit.

2. Going forward, release capacity back into the GPP program on a monthly basis following the six month expiration of agreements (i.e., unused capacity from applications approved during January 2013 is released back into the program on August 1, and so forth).

3.Take steps to prevent speculative applications from taking up capacity, including a Valley-wide applicationfee and requiring a copy of the check between the owner or third party and their selected solar contractor. The purpose of this check is to prevent wild swings in the program, burdening local distributors, solar contractors and TVA with applications that do not have contracts.

4. Beginning June 1, roll unused capacity forward from the 2012 SSI program into 2013. Since the pilot program was a 2-year 20 MW program, and TVA had less than 2 MW built in the first year, 18 MW should be available in 2013. In addition, only signed contracts should count toward the cap, not simply applications received.

We are not asking TVA to increase their spending on solar electricity; we simply want to see that 100% of allotted capacity is built. On the other hand, TVA’s spending on solar electricity is minimal, and we refute TVA’s claim that they need to cap solar incentives to protect ratepayers. Private individuals and businesses make the capital investments in solar projects, and TVA should be expected to buy the electricity at a rate that reflects the value of the power that does not pollute, does not create costly disasters and does not require TVA (ratepayers) to pay for new power plants, maintenance, compliance, insurance, etc.  In addition, when TVA buys solar electricity, they own all of the environmental attributes, the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), that can be sold on the SREC market.  Solar is a win for everyone – TVA, ratepayers, clean air and water and the economy.

We encourage you to contact TVA to voice your opinions. Click here to visit the TVA Board of Directors webpage.

Where We’ll Be in May 2013

LightWave Solar is proud to be a part of the brand new Music City Center.  Join us at the Grand Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 19 or Monday, May 20.

The Music City Center began construction in January 2010 and is opening to the public almost 3 1/2 years later in downtown Nashville, TN. The 2.1-million-square-foot convention center boasts more than 353,000 square feet of exhibit space, 1.2 million square feet of public space, and a parking garage holding 1,800 parking spaces. The Center is working towards LEED Silver certification with its green roof, solar panels, and rainwater collection tank. Commissioned and acquired artworks from local and national artists will display throughout the Music City Center as one of the largest public art collections in the nation.

Music City Center Solar ProjectJoin us at the Grand Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 19 or Monday, May 20.  Celebration includes open house tours, free street party and concert featuring Sheryl Crow, The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, FiskJubilee Singers, and more.  Major Dean will give his State of Metro address on Monday, May 20 at 10 a.m. Click here for details.

Solar 101 Workshop: Solar Energy for Homes and Businesses

On Saturday, May 4, LightWave Solar will be in Banner Elk, N.C. to host an informative solar workshop to explain the benefits of adding solar photovoltaics (PV) to a home or business. We will cover solar system components and cost, current financial incentives, and local solar project highlights.

Solar 101 Workshop in Banner Elk, N.C.
Sat, May 4 10a.m.-12p.m.

Best Western Mountain Lodge
1615 Tynecastle Highway 184
Banner Elk, NC 28604

Light refreshments will be provided. The workshop is free and open to the public!  Please RSVP to Alexis at aclose@lightwavesolar.com or 877-748-1260 x128.

LWS Featured in Solar Pro Magazine

Solar Pro Features LightWave SolarLightWave Solar was in the latest issue of SolarPro Magazine, a leading industry publication.  As part of their Project Profile series, SolarPro featured the 24 kW system LightWave Solar installed at the University School of Nashville.  The article highlights some of the challenges and unique aspects of the project, including the adjustment of the ground mounted racking system so that it would not be compromised in a flood like the one that hit Nashville in May 2010.

Click here to see the article and project photos.