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 Feel free to include the graph above and let them know you would like to see more solar installed in the Valley.

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.


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.

LightWave Solar Installs 400 kW for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee

Atop their headquarters and warehouse facilities, solar PV furthers Goodwill’s mission of sustainability

May 4, 2012


Nashville, Tenn. The largest area installer of solar PV systems in Tennessee, LightWave Solar, recently completed two solar installations totaling 400 kilowatts at Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee in downtown Nashville.  The projects were 100 percent funded by the non-profit and are among the last systems under the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Generation Partners program for systems over 50 kW.

“The systems will generate over $100,000 per year for Goodwill,” says Steve Johnson, President of LightWave Solar.  “They have invested in equipment that will help them hedge against rising fuel costs over the next 30 to 40 years.”

At their distribution warehouse, 200 kW is expected to offset nearly 80 percent of the building’s electric use.  Another 200 kW on their headquarters will offset about 45 percent.  Each system incorporates 832 Canadian Solar 240-watt solar panels, two 95kW Solectrica Renewables inverters, and Solectrica’s SolrenView web-based monitoring to track production and environmental benefits in real-time.  Over the next 30 years, the systems will offset carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (NOX), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions that are equivalent to planting 2,400 acres of trees.

“We’re in the business of re-use,” says David Lifsey, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. “The items we sell might otherwise be destined for a landfill.  Making use of a resource like sunlight makes sense and fits right in with our mission.”

Goodwill is a not-for-profit corporation whose primary mission is to provide training and employment services to people who have disabilities or who otherwise have trouble finding and keeping a job.  They fund their operation through the sale of donated goods.

Their new solar systems are in addition to 60kW they installed last year.

“It is prudent to take advantage of the pollution-free, abundant and cost effective power of the sun,” says Lifsey.  Goodwill’s board of directors has shown good stewardship of Goodwill’s resources and the world’s resources by their forward thinking decisions to utilize solar generation as part of our overall energy usage.”

On March 29 and 30, 2012, the systems were grid-interconnected by Nashville Electric Service (NES) and TVA.

To learn more about this project, contact LightWave Solar at 615-641-4050 and  Monitoring data and project video are located here:

LightWave Solar Completes 1 MW Solar Tracking Array in Memphis

System is the largest single-axis tracking array in Tennessee, and boosts local economy 
April 23, 2012

Memphis, Tenn. The largest area installer of solar PV systems in Tennessee, LightWave Solar, recently completed the installation of 998.4 kW at Agricenter International in Memphis, Tennessee.  Project completion was celebrated at a Green Ribbon Cutting Ceremony following the 2012 Tennessee Valley Solar Solutions Conference in Memphis on April 11.  Notable participants included U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, Memphis Mayors Wharton and Luttrell, and project partners Silicon Ranch, LightWave Solar, and Sharp.

“The 1MW solar farm at Agricenter is a great example of the growth of Tennessee’s Solar Value Chain,” said Steve Johnson, President of LightWave Solar.  “We’re a Tennessee company, we hired other Tennessee companies to help build the project, and we utilized solar technology manufactured right here in the state.  This project is great for our economy.”

Residing on five acres, the system incorporates 4,160 Sharp 240-watt solar panels that were locally-manufactured in Memphis.  The panels are mounted on Array Technologies DuraTrack single-axis tracking platform, and follow the movement of the sun to increases solar electric production by 20%.  The largest single-axis tracking system in Tennessee, it will produce over 1,600,000 kilowatt-hours per year which is enough electricity to power at least 100 homes.  Over the next 25 years, the system will offset carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (NOX), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions that are equivalent to planting 6,600 acres of trees.

LightWave Solar began project construction on December 14, 2011.  On April 2, 2012, the system was commissioned and grid-interconnected by Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  Other system components include a PV Powered MV-1040kW inverter and SPX Arguson Solar Power Monitoring.  Silicon Ranch provided the funding for the project and owns and maintains the system.

To learn more about this project, contact LightWave Solar at 615-641-4050 and Monitoring data and time lapse video are located here: