Archive for September 28, 2012

Tennessee’s first energy-producing neighborhood

Three hundred single-family, energy efficient homes will soon be under construction in Memphis located at the “Wolf River Buffs” on property situated at James Road and Mclean Blvd.. Builders will install solar panels in each home. Those panels will be made at the Sharp Manufacturing Company in Southeast Memphis. The solar panels, along with MLGW’s EcoBuild construction standards means the housing development will be Tennessee’s first energy-producing neighborhood. Thomas Chamberlain, with MLGW’s strategic marketing, says homeowners will realize a savings on their utility bills.
“We see the results in a 30-percent reduction of electrical usage and up to a 50-percent reduction in natural gas usage. We know it works,” Chamberlain says. Steve Lockwood is Executive Director of the Frayser Community Development Corporation. He has watched neighborhoods struggle through rough economic times. “The mortgage crisis has hit Frayser harder than any neighborhood in Tennessee. We’ve had unreasonably high foreclosure rates for ten years running. That has meant a lot of empty houses and it has lowered values in the community,” Lockwood says. The price tag for the new Frayser homes will range from $120,000 to $140,000.
original article

Nonprofit wants to plant green jobs in Knoxville area

Joshua Outsey, Jessica Session, John Thomason, Jordan Linder and Isaac Dukes of Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development surround a donated apple tree. The nonprofit plans to plant an edible forest outside its location at Morningside Community Center.

Special to the Knoxville News Sentinel by Terry Shaw
“The problem is a lot of local companies have to find contractors outside Knoxville to do the work,” the 22-year-old said.
That’s one of the issues being addressed by the nonprofit Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development, where Davis works as program director.
“It’s our job to make it known and create jobs because there’s a demand for them,” said staffer Joshua Outsey, 26.
The pair cite home weatherization, green building construction, electrical work and maintenance on solar panels and wind farms as fast-growing fields, along with farm-to-fork food production.
With a staff of five and more than 70 volunteers, the three-year-old nonprofit is located at Morningside Community Center, 1617 Dandridge Ave.
It works with community members ages 16-28 in a variety of ways, including mentoring, classes and site trips. One program pays 17-to-21-year-olds $1,200 to participate in a 10-week program to earn a GED and explore job opportunities. It began in July and has 30 students participating.
Dukes said of 22 young people who went through a pre-apprentice program, 17 found jobs or are attending a trade school or college.
“It’s important to be able to see people your own age who are college graduates and making a difference,” said Jessica Session, 23, an Americorps member assigned to the program.

Obama nominates McWherter, three others to TVA board

President Obama has nominated Mike McWherter, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Tennessee governor, to fill one of five current vacancies on the TVA Board of Directors.

Obama also nominated V. Lynn Evans, a Memphis accountant, and Joe H. Ritch, a Huntsville, Ala., attorney, as new members of the board while proposing to give Marilyn A. Brown, a current board member whose term has expired, a new term on the nine-member panel.

The president in February had nominated Peter Mahurin of Bowling Green, Ky., to a TVA board seat, but Mahurin’s nomination has not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The four nominations announced Friday in a White House news release are also subject to Senate confirmation.

Read More

Proposed legislation to benefit solar in the USA

Legislation to extend benefits to renewables

U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation in support of an “all of the above” energy approach. The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act will modify the federal tax code to make it easier and more attractive for private capital to invest in renewable energy.

A master limited partnership (MLP) is a business that is taxed as a partnership but whose shares are traded like stock on a market. Because MLPs have access to capital at a lower cost and a more liquid financial approach, this makes them very attractive to private investment. Currently, only oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects are allowed to qualify for MLPs. This bill would simply amend the federal tax code to allow investment in renewable energy projects in the same way.


Bearden Beer Market to Showcase Their Sustainability Efforts

BBM plans to lower our carbon footprint, educate the community and encourage patrons and partners to follow suit by:

In this workshop ARiES Energy will provide:

  • Installing a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System!
  • Completing our Lighting Retrofits (90% accomplished, let’s make it 100%!)
  • Purchasing Biomass heating and power generation units! (Conveniently charge electronics in the beer garden without plugging into the grid!)
  • Roof Top Garden for Storm Water Collection (vegetation for reducing run-off & carbon emissions, not for eating!)
  • Rain Barrels to sustain the roof garden
  • Porous Surface to replace blacktop in beer garden  (reduces runoff, increases water quality, & decreases heat

Bearden Beer Market (BBM) is incorporating best building practices into the beer garden to improve energy efficiency and enhance the experience

It is very important to BBM to demonstrate that “greening” is not simply a novelty. It is a best practice and the way of the future! BBM believes those who support these proactive energy efforts should be championed! To do this BBM, has dedicated an entire wall to showcase the support of BBM’s energy efforts and quality building practices. “Wall of Champions” signage opportunities include:

for beer lovers & BBM partners of Knoxville! To accomplish our goals, WE NEED YOUR HELP!


  • “Rookie-of-the-Year” – 1×1 ft space
  • “All-Star” – 2×2 ft space
  • “Hall-of-Famer” – 3×3 ft space

When: October 17, 2012, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Where: Bearden Beer Market (BBM), 4524 Old Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919:

RSVP: Bearden Beer Market - Matt,, (423) 648-0963


ARiES Energy, LLC - Mary Shaffer Gill,

Recent Customer Experience Develops New Solar Service

The owners of one of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Tennessee partnered with ARiES Energy to fix a warranty issue with one of the system’s inverters.  While fixing this problem, the experts at ARiES Energy saw a serious issue with the system’s wiring.  Due to improper wiring, the system was losing 4% of the system’s solar power production.  Our inspection caught this mistake, increasing the company’s revenue by thousands of dollars.

Based on our experience with this customer, ARiES Energy decided to provide a service to guarantee optimal performance for solar PV system owners.

We are proud to announce our new Solar Maintenance Program to ensure your solar system is working at maximum efficiency.  Under the Solar Maintenance Agreement, we will give your solar system a top-down inspection to determine how your system is performing.

We will identify and fix problems that are preventing optimal performance, and take care of warranty claims so you don’t miss a beat while you are taking care of your day-to-day responsibilities.

Monthly Service:

  • Review utility bills/solar system performance benchmarking

Annual Service:

  • Inspect solar panel connections
  • Test output and compare warranty
  • Inspect solar panel’s physical condition
  • Inspect inverter and protection devices
  • Full Performance Assessment 
  • Pressure wash and clean solar panels (200 kW and greater)

Service as Needed:

  • Prepare and submit any warranty claims
  • Repair or replace defective solar panels at a discounted rate

Check out our website at, and view our references at  Interested in learning more? E-mail or call 865-309-4NRG.

Are You Getting The MOST From Your Solar System?

This article was taken from an email offering a novel service that warrants consideration for commercial installations.
When solar systems are properly designed and installed there is generally little maintenance. Sustainable Future is the owner’s representive for the largest solar system in Tennessee, a 5 mega watt system near Memphis (pictured left). We have helped the owners get the most from their system by discovering issues both during design and installation.

We can perform the following services
to make sure your system is operating at peak performance:

1) Clean panels;
2) Perform design reviews;
3) Calculate system efficiencies;
4) Isolate and repair underperforming or damaged solar panels and/ or strings;
5) Provide a performance report grading the health of your system.

Future Costs?

What about future costs for solar? Based on the graph below, what is going to be the scenario when the price of solar PV installed reaches a pay-back of 3 years? The demand for the retrofit market will be 30% which means for the United States that there will be approximately 100 million single family detached homes in the United States that would be suitably situated for solar (about 1 home in 5). So 30% would be 30,000,000 homes. With each home holding 5 kilowatts of panels, that would amount to a market demand of 200 panels per home (250 watts per panel) or a total demand of 6,000,000,000 panels (6 billion panels).

Expected demand for solar PV based on simplified years for payback

Today the yearly production of panels amount to 60 gigawatts of panels. Using the 250 watts per panel, means a total yearly production of 240 million panels. Based on the production rate, it would take 25 years of production to satisfy the market with a three year payback as the driving force.
Needless to say that the supply/demand ratio will be tipped to increase price to lower the demand. Let us label that as a future cost factor in any projections of solar pricing and payback period.
Right now for the residential market the payback is more than ten years based on today’s solar pricing assuming no subsidies.

Co-op offers shares in new solar farm

This is a second article on Duck River Electric because it is a untried concept here in Tennessee. It also shows that TVA is making a sincere effort at growing solar energy in the valley for which we thank the powers to be. What is equally important in this article taken from the Times Free Press is the explanation of just how the arrangement is intended to work.

Brad Gibson, director of member services for the Duck River Electric Membership Corp., talks about the solar array located outside the utility's offices in Shelbyville. Members of DREMC can invest in the solar panels and receive green energy discounts on their electric bills.

The Bedford County-based utility is seeking investors in the $128,000 solar system installed behind its Shelbyville headquarters, said Brad Gibson, Duck River’s director of member services.
Gibson said the system generates 25.92 kilowatts of power for immediate use. A typical home requires from 5 to 10 kilowatts of electric power at a given time, he said. The arrangement between Duck River and the Tennessee Valley Authority is a first-of-its-kind pilot program developed between a local power company and the federal utility that qualifies for TVA’s Generation Partners Program, according to Duck River and TVA officials.
TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said the initiative “is a great way for Duck River … to promote the Generation Partners pilot program and make more renewable energy available to consumers through an innovative business model.”
Gibson said 20 to 30 of Duck River’s 71,000 members have invested since the system went online this summer. Most of the available 216 investment units are still available and each unit equals one-half of one of the 108 solar panels that make up the three wing-shaped arrays erected at the Shelbyville office, he said.

“We’re fielding quite a few phone calls right now,” Gibson said on a hazy, semi-sunny Wednesday as he stood in the shade of one of the arrays.
Duck River officials found that some of their members were interested in solar power, but couldn’t install a home system because of the high cost or lack of a sun-catching location for solar panels, he said. The return on the investment comes back “at 22 cents a kilowatt-hour,” he said. On customers’ utility bills, a minimum investment of $600 could tally a return of roughly $3.50 to $4.50 a month, depending on the amount of sunshine. Investors will have access to power output until August 2032, he said.
read the full story here

TSEA’s Stefan and Carmelo Install Their First Solar System

Carmelo Plugging In

TSEA volunteers, Stefan Partin and Carmelo Mannino, helped ARiES Energy install solar panels at the Pink Pig in Downtown Morristown.  This was the first hands-on solar installation job for both interns, and it was a great success.  ”It is great to get your hands dirty and get experience on the ground installing,” said Stefan, “I talk to many people that have installed panels, and it is good to say that now I have too.”  Carmelo talked about his experience saying, “I’m use to doing solar behind a desk, I found installing the panels to be a great experience.”  ARiES Energy, a business member of TSEA, provides solar and renewable energy services, and was founded on the principal of three “E’s” – Energy Independence, Economic Development and Environmental Stewardship.

Completed Installation

The installation was a 11.73 kW solar photovoltaic installation on a rooftop in Historic Downtown Morristown.  The project used aesthetic and innovative solar technology that was installed within the design requirements of the local Historic Zoning Commission and will add to the historic building’s complete renovation.  ARiES Energy is proud to be the FIRST project finished in the TN Dept. of Environment & Conservation Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program.  ARiES Energy will be holding a ribbon cutting event in Morristown on October 4th, 2012 at 9AM EST.  To view more picture click here. Visit ARiES Energy at