Archive for July 26, 2012

The Tennessee Solar Industry Association Goes on the Offensive to Stop Solar Tax

After staving off a potential tax increase during the last session of the Tennessee General Assembly, a Tennessee solar trade group is asking candidates to sign a pledge to “stop dramatic and burdensome tax increases on the solar industry.”
The Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA) announced the pledge today.
The following are excercpts from today’s TenneSEIA press release:
The Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA) announced today its efforts to educate candidates running for state office and members of the Tennessee General Assembly about the economic impacts of over taxing the solar energy industry. Earlier this year, the General Assembly considered a bill (HB3520/SB3296) to increase property taxes on the solar industry by 6,000 percent. The bill was sent to summer study and will likely surface next year.
TenneSEIA kicked off its efforts by mailing candidates a pledge asking them to, “stop dramatic and burdensome tax increases on the solar energy industry.”
“If our legislature chooses to over tax the solar energy industry, no one will invest, build or manufacture solar in Tennessee-that’s jobs and money leaving our state,” said Dean Solon, president of Shoals Technologies Group in Portland, Tennessee. Shoals employs about 400 people. “China won’t do that to you-China helps foster solar energy without over taxation. And we should know because Shoals exports to China.”

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Tennessee Tech University hosts second annual community energy forum

The second annual Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council forum will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 27, at TTU’s Millard Oakley STEM Center. Warren Nevad, management consultant for the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service, and Dennis Tennant, associate director of Extended Programs at TTU, will lead discussions about natural gas, solar energy, transforming solid waste to clean energy and biomass gasificaiton. There will also be a presentation about energy efficiency loan programs.

The forum is free, but seating is limited to the first 150 people. To reserve a spot, visit Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

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China Probes U.S., South Korea Solar-Grade Polysilicon

China is investigating whether exporters from the U.S. and South Korea sold solar-grade polysilicon below cost, a practice known as dumping, as part of a probe following complaints from four domestic companies.

The world’s biggest supplier of solar panels also started a countervailing duty investigation into the commodity from the U.S., China’s Ministry of Commerce said in two separate statements.

The actions escalate a trade dispute between the world’s biggest economies after the U.S. said in May it will impose duties on Chinese solar cells, which are devices made from polysilicon and assembled into panels that convert sunlight into electricity.

China will examine a tax-exemption program for the “advanced-energy manufacturing industry” promoted by the U.S. federal government and 15 state-government sponsored programs in Michigan, Tennessee, Washington and Idaho, the ministry’s statement on the countervailing duty investigation said.

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TSEA Submits DoE SunShot Grant Concept Paper

At the present time we are working with an interdisciplinary team of academics and consultants on creating a solar program proposal, in the TVA region, to the Department of Energy known as the “Aggregate Utility Solar Program Using Micro-Investments.” Currently the problem with investing into solar for the average Tennessean is that the high up-front costs associated with solar is too large and therefore hindered demand. Since the demand is stifled, the marginal cost of solar production equipment has remained high. We are looking to remedy this issue by creating a platform where micro-investments can be used to provide solar energy to a broad base of citizens who can otherwise not afford it. The model will aggregate the demand from hundreds-of-thousands of individuals who invest small sums of money on a monthly basis to install large solar farms. Each micro-investment will equate to one “share” in a solar farm and will provide an escalating return on investment as the monthly investments continue. The model will analyze the situational requirements to induce micro-investments, the relationships between key variables, the resulting economic impact to the community, and the future cost of electricity to the consumers. Once the analysis is complete, our social scientists can identify any policies needed for a new solar program, and the Tennessee Valley Authority can implement a pilot program based on the model.

The best part of this program is that it does not cost the state anything. The widespread growth would be due to a multitude of private investors rather than state dependency.

We believe the results of this program would be very important for the growth of solar in Tennessee. The wide implementation of solar would drastically reduce carbon emissions in Tennessee, because solar does not emit carbon pollutants. This would create a savings on the carbon emissions quota, which the state could redistribute in creating for carbon emission permits for new manufactures and producers. The biggest impact, however, would be that this program would create a new source for job creation in the energy sector. A study by the University of California-Berkeley found that for every megawatt of panels installed that 20 manufacturing and 13 installation job-years would be created. We believe solar energy is the future and we think a program like this can help get us there.

Below is a link to the concept paper for the utility solar program we are looking to create. It will give you background information and greater insight on the models that we are making use of and developing. Please send us any comments or questions you have about the program so we can use them to help make our full proposal the best it can be. Use the comment section below, or e-mail us at

Link to the Concept Paper

The TSEA Team

Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander on Clean Air Rule Vote

TSEA is grateful to our Senator Alexander for the keen and meaningful remarks of a fellow Tennessean about the well being of our valley. In the remarks he also mentions our other estimable Senator Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga, actions to improve the air quality of his city. It would seem to me that both should be strong advocates of solar energy and its impact on our air and water quality.

Both are correct in saying that we got to get solar prices down before we can get wide acceptance. Both our senators know that the vast majority of our citizenry want solar. How to we make it all happen? We believe that the goal of improving our solar adoption is not price alone, but that public adoption of clean energy is paramount.

At the moment TVA customers are asked to donate money to purchase pure solar at $8 per unit. What if we use old fashioned American wisdom and modified the program from a donation to an investment? We do not expect a business to donate money so that some bank can reap the profit, so why should we expect the average citizen of the Tennessee valley under the current economic situation to give us its disposable income other than the belief that it is good for our nation? TSEA will be posting its submission to the Department of Energy for a Sunshot grant to show how we can create a program that will allow the average citizen to invest in solar and reap a return on that investment. More on this later.

Right now TSEA wants you to read the excellent comments of our senator regarding the clean air bill.

I would agree the EPA has become a happy hunting ground for goofy regulations. But as the late William F. Buckley once said, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And on this rule — this clean air rule and the earlier interstate rule — I believe EPA is right.
The effect of upholding this rule will be to finally require that most coal plants in America will have to install two kinds of pollution control equipment: scrubbers and SCRs. This will basically finish the job of capturing sulfur and nitrogen oxides, fine particles, and the 187 toxic pollutants that were specifically identified by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has already committed to install this equipment by 2018. But TVA alone can’t clean up Tennessee’s air, because dirty air blows in from other States. So let me say what upholding this rule will do for the people of Tennessee.
First, it will hasten the day when Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville are not three of the top five worst asthma cities — which they are today — and Nashville is not competing to be in the top 10.
Dr. William Lawson of Vanderbilt University, who treats patients with respiratory diseases in Nashville said in a recent article that: “Pollution from these power plants means my patients suffer more. Pollution increases their chances of being hospitalized. Some of these toxic emissions even cause cancer and can interfere with our children’s neurological development.”
Secondly, upholding this rule means that visitors will soon not even think of calling the Great Smoky Mountains the Great Smoggy Mountains because it is one of the most polluted national parks in America.
Third, this rule should mean fewer health advisory warnings for our streams that say “don’t eat the fish because of mercury contamination.” Half of the manmade mercury in the United States comes from coal plants, and as much as 70 percent of the mercury pollution in our local environment, such as streams and rivers, can come from nearby coal plants.
Fourth, we have seen that had Nissan been unable to get an air quality permit in Nashville in 1980, it would have gone to Georgia. And if Senator Corker had not, as mayor of Chattanooga, improved the air quality in that city in the mid 2000’s, the Volkswagen site there would be a vacant lot today.

From the heart, thank you Senator Alexander