Archive for East Tennessee News

Our friends at SolarCity are looking for new PV Designers!!

Our friends over at SolarCity are looking for individuals interested in a career as a PV Designer! They will be hiring now until March 18th! Individuals with an engineering degree or previous experience are great but not mandatory. What’s more important is that you’re a quick learner, motivated, and good problem solvers! If this sounds like it would be of interest to you get in contact with us or contact SolarCity for more information. Be sure to act quickly!

Energy program can aid farmers, small businesses

In Tennessee, solar panels are not as common as silos on farms, but recently they have been becoming more and more popular across the Volunteer State.

Tennessee farmers are beginning to take advantage of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program promoting renewable energy and energy-efficient projects.

It’s smart for farmers and owners of small businesses to invest and participate in the programs to reduce energy costs and potentially make a few extra dollars selling excess power.

The program USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is providing grants and loans for renewable energy and energy projects to small businesses in rural areas with a population of 50,000 or less. It is growing in Tennessee, with more than $2 million available for projects state wide just this year, compared to $326,000 last year.

Monroe, Knox, and Loudon counties have been home to two-thirds of the projects in East Tennessee for 2006 to 2014.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Provider program, which pays a premium for energy generated by renewable sources has worked hand in hand with the REAP program in the past few years. Unfortunately, TVA is erasing its green power incentives as more money becomes available through REAP for investment in solar and other renewable projects.

Read the article here.

Solar Deal with TVA and Next Era

The Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, board authorized a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Next Era Energy for 80 megawatts of solar, AP reports. This is the first installation of over 20 megawatts, currently having 128 MW of solar.

The most competitive price for solar was offered at $61 per MWh, comparable to the $59 per MWh TVA expects to pay for electricity from Mississippi’s Quantum Choctaw natural gas power plant.

The installation will be built near TVA’s Colbert Fossil Plant in Northern, Alabama.

Read the article here.

The Carport of The Future

With more than 40 percent of the pavement in an average city tied up in parking areas, it’s safe to say that garages and carports are all around us. Many urban areas are changing the way these concrete blocks are being viewed–one solar panel addition at a time. Solar panel carports have the ability to incredibly impact energy-production all while looking like something straight out of the future.
Certain high-profile corporations and universities have given the special carports a whirl and have since generated an abundance of power. Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ, currently houses the largest solar parking canopy project in the U.S. With a 28-acre installation, it is no wonder over 60% of the campus’ annual electricity is provided for by the plant. With such incredible amounts of energy produced at Rutgers University by way of “solar parking”, many are left to wonder why similar additions have yet to be started in their area. The discouraging factor for such projects, as stated by Chase Weir of TruSolar, is money. Weir goes on to say, such projects are “The most expensive type of system to build”. Solar carports may be impressively beneficial and aesthetically awing, however there is no denying they are also incredibly expensive…“So at least for now, the market remains relatively niche.”

Read the article here.

Knoxville Solar Tour Set for October 18th, 2014

Knoxville Solar Tour 2014

The solar tour will consist of six separate stops throughout Knox county, both within Knoxville city limits as well as outside. A description of each stop will be given to the audience as well as an idea of what to expect at the particular stop. The audience is encouraged to ask questions at any point during the tour except during certain brief presentations.

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Stop #1: Immediately outside of the Knox Area Transit (KAT) transit center is a rooftop solar array consisting of 24 solar panels contained in a mount. This array supplies the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with the power it produces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar City report on Knoxville, “The 4.68-kW installation at the newly constructed downtown transit center—Knoxville’s first municipally owned PV system—was fully funded by the TVA through a cost-share agreement.”1 The array was installed by David Bolt, president of Sustainable Futures, LLC.

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SolarTourPic3Stop #2: Across the street from the transit center is the Civic Coliseum Parking Garage. The garage has 24 electric vehicle charging stations along with two companion solar arrays that provide power to the chargers. These solar panels were installed by Efficient Energy of Tennessee, and the charging stations were installed by ECOtality, a San Francisco based electric transportation company.

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Stop #3: The next stop on the tour is the historic Jacob Building in Chilhowee Park near downtown Knoxville. The 57,000 square foot building has a 50 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic solar array installed on it’s roof. This array offsets approximately 47 tons of CO2 annually.2 It was installed by ARiES Energy, a Knoxville based solar energy installer.

Stop #4: Following the Jacob Building is the SPECTRUM solar farm exhibit located in the East Town Mall in east Knoxville. The SPECTRUM exhibit serves to educate the public on “exciting things happening in the Tennessee solar world”3 like the 5 megawatt West Tennessee Solar Farm, one of the biggest solar farms in the southeastern US, located in Stanton, TN. The SPECTRUM exhibit is sponsored by the West Tennessee Solar Farm, the University of Tennessee, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.SolarTourPic5

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Stop #5: Our second to last stop is a private residence owned by Tom Meek. It is an advanced, off-grid solar home system. This is a system with battery back-up as well as a natural gas generator. This allows Mr. Meek to operate independently of the main electrical system for several days.

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Stop #6: Our final stop is at the offices of the Green Earth Solar LLC. Green Earth Solar is a local solar systems installer for both residential and commercial systems. Green Earth was also one of the first solar Installers in the state of Tennessee to receive NABCEP certification for installing solar systems. They have installed systems on a wide range of buildings and facilities including the Knoxville Convention center, Calhoun’s Restaurant in Turkey Creek, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Knoxville Solar Tour 2014

10:10 – Transit Center Array (301 Church Ave., Knoxville, TN 37915)

10:25 – Coliseum Parking Garage

10:30 – Mount on buses

10:55 – Jacobs Building, Chilhowee Park(3301 E Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN 37914)

11:45 – SPECTRUM East Town Shopping Center (3001 Knoxville Center Dr. Knoxville TN)

12:35 – Meek Residence (8208 Nubbins Ridge Road, Knoxville 37919)

1:00 – Green Earth Solar (9111 Cross Park Drive, Suite 120, Knoxville TN)

1:30 – Return to Transit Center

The bus should be located near the solar installation on the parking garage to facilitate loading.

Our special thanks go to Mayor Madeline Rogero, Erin Gill, Director of the Knoxville Office of Sustainability, and Brian Blackmon, Project Manager at the Knoxville Office of Sustainability.

List of Local Solar Installers: Efficient Energy of Tennessee, ARiES Energy, Sustainable Future , Twin Willows Construction, Green Earth Solar

Knoxville Solar Tour 2014

The 2014 Knoxville Solar Tour was brought to you be the City of Knoxville and the Tennessee Solar Energy Association.

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Lunch was generously donated by ARiES Energy and will be provided to participants of the tour free of charge and will be served in-transit between the SPECTRUM exhibit and the Meek Residence. We will be able to collect any trash.