Charles Cotton never gave much thought to the fact that he owns a piece of Jackson Energy Cooperative, the utility that delivers power to his home in Berea, Ky. But last November, Cotton’s membership paid off in a way he hadn’t expected: The cooperative gave him an energy upgrade, installing a plastic moisture barrier underneath his house and replacing his old furnace with an efficient heat pump. Jackson Energy’s status as a cooperative led directly to Cotton’s retrofit. It is one of four rural electric cooperatives participating in a pilot program called How$martKY, run by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED). The program will let Cotton slowly pay back the cost of the retrofit: His bill is smaller than before, but he’s actually paying a bit more than the cost of the electricity he uses. The extra charge is how he repays the cost of the retrofit. It’s a scheme called on-bill financing—a way for people of all financial backgrounds to reap the benefits of energy efficiency without a big up-front cost.
Archive for West Tennessee News
LightWave Solar, Tennessee’s largest solar contractor, has announced their expansion into north Alabama and southern Middle Tennessee.
Michael E. Kelley will represent the company in the area, pursuing commercial, industrial and large-scale solar projects. Kelley brings more than 20 years of technology-oriented sales, marketing and corporate communications experience.
Founded in 2006 with offices in Nashville, Johnson City and Memphis, LightWave Solar has installed nearly 350 solar installations to-date. LightWave Solar provides turn-key solar PV systems for homes, businesses, municipalities and non-profits across the Mid-South.
A UT group is partnering with the US Department of Energy and statewide leaders to explore the growing field of solar energy.
UT’s SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge is sponsoring the Tennessee Solar Summit in Chattanooga on Wednesday and Thursday, April 10 and 11. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Read House.
The goal of the conference is to educate attendees about the past and future of solar energy in Tennessee. It will include several speakers and breakout sessions. Breakout sessions will include historic zoning and land issues, impact of solar energy on property appraisals, large-scale solar installations, and unique case studies.
“Attendees will meet the diverse group of solar stakeholders we have in Tennessee and form new partnerships to keep the momentum going in moving solar power forward in our state,” said Bruce Tonn, principal investigator for UT’s Rooftop Solar Challenge grant at the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.
The Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant & Guaranteed Loan Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) published this morning. The program sets up an April 30, 2013 deadline for submission of REAP Grants and July 15, 2013 deadline for submission of REAP Guaranteed Loan.
Complete applications should be submitted to the Business Programs Specialist in the Area Office serving the County in which the project is located. A map of our Area Offices and their respective areas can be found at the following link, click on the map of Tennessee to find the applicable office:
Application material may be found online at the following link:
The NOFA is attached in this email and indicates that the program will have $10.4 Million available Nationally for REAP Grants and $43.4 Million for REAP Guaranteed Loans. At this time we do not know what Tennessee’s allocation level will be.
Competition will be very intense with limited funds this year. Please contact the Business Programs Specialist in the applicable Area Office for further information. Please share this
e-mail with any interested parties.
Will Dodson | Energy Coordinator
Business & Energy Programs
Rural Development – Tennessee State Office
U.S. Department of Agriculture
3322 West End Avenue, Ste. 300 | Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-783-1350 | Fax: 615-783-1395
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.
Latest NREL Report Suggests that Tennessee Has a Solar PV Potential of 20 Times the Amount of Electricity Used in the State
In a government report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory demonstrates the tremendous potential for solar energy generation in Tennessee. The report estimates the technical potential of solar PV as well as other renewable power sources for the production of electrical power. It is a study of the potential based on renewable resource availability and quality, technical system performance, topographic limitations, environmental, and land-use constraints only. The study does not consider the economic, political or market constraints. In 2010, Tennessee used 103,522 GWh (103,522,000,000 kWh). The report estimates that the total solar potential including rural and urban utility-scale PV as well as roof-top solar would amount to 2,295,918 GWh.
The landscape for solar power is changing, and the leaders of two Knoxville solar companies are altering their focus to adapt to the shift.
Ignited by federal stimulus dollars, the industry has enjoyed three years of federal and state incentives that have, for the most part, dimmed. And last year, TVA scaled back its incentives, limiting the most generous payments to systems producing less than 50 kilowatts of power. That’s left many in the industry to predict few, if any, large commercial installations will be built in the near future.
LightWave Solar has completed the installation of a 1 MW PV project at Agricenter International in Memphis, Tenn. Silicon Ranch, which provided the funding for the project, owns and maintains the system.
Covering five acres, the array incorporates 4,160 Sharp 240 W solar panels that were locally manufactured in Memphis. The panels are mounted on Array Technologies’ DuraTrack single-axis tracking platform. Other components include a PV Powered MV1040 kW inverter and a SPX Arguson Solar Power Monitoring system.
According to LightWave Solar, the system will produce more than 1.6 GWh annually.
The new facilities suggest solar energy’s potential, but consumer demand must increase before solar energy companies can begin to add many jobs, said Rupy Sawhney, an engineering professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
His report at the Solar Solutions Conference showed that the capacity of Tennessee companies to provide solar energy products is 10 times the current demand.
“The supply chain seems not to be the issue,” Sawhney said.
The professor’s report said that for demand to increase, consumers must be better educated on the benefits of solar energy, government incentives must increase and installation costs must drop.
In the last five months, the average cost of 24 installation projects co-funded by the Tennessee Solar Institute was $5.30 per watt. The Department of Energy’s goal is to reduce the installation cost to $1 to $1.50 per watt by 2020. That reduction could spur consumer interest in solar energy.
Industry members see another obstacle in a bill being considered in the Legislature to increase the appraised value of solar property for tax purposes from .5 percent to 33 percent of the original cost.
The resulting tax increase would deter consumers and companies alike from installing solar energy farms on properties they own, some say.
For Dean Solon, president and CEO of Portland, Tenn.-based Shoals Technologies Group, one big problem is that the U.S. lacks a clear solar energy policy. He said consumers won’t add solar energy because there is no guarantee that local utilities will buy the electricity from them at a high enough price to make the investment worthwhile.
“Do you want to spend $20,000 putting a photovoltaic system on your house when you don’t know if the local utility is going to pay you for the power?” Solon said.
Perhaps the biggest hindrance is continuing fallout from the controversy over Solyndra, which went bankrupt in September after getting more than $500 million in federal loans. It was the first alternative energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus program from the Obama administration.
Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama for his ties to the California-based solar company.
Solon said the hubbub over Solyndra raised doubts about the viability of solar companies and the number of new installations dropped significantly.
“Solar is like a political ping pong ball — you have the conservatives on one side and the liberals on the other,” Solon said. “And the industry is suffering over that stupidity.”
West Tennessee has seemed to lag behind East and Central Tennessee in the number of interconnected solar photovoltaic systems. While wind energy seems to be confined to the central and eastern areas of the state, the same is not true for solar collection energy. Despite the lack of interest by local media sources, there are dozens of Tennesseans who own private pv systems in the West Tn area as of recently. With the scenic view of our “solar farm” on I40, there is a “solar buzz” in the air….
A local resident of the Jackson area named Ernie Williams, is responsible for the integration of several of the successfully interconnected pv systems under the TVA footprint here in West Tennessee. He is a shinning example of how Tennesseans can use good ole’ American Free Enterprise and Technology to create revenue for Tennessee, by Tennessee. Since Tennessee has proven solar manufacturing leadership, there should be no reason that Tennessee shouldn’t lead the nation in developing energy independence through implementation of the same green & renewable products we manufacture.
To take a look at some of the local installations, click on the word document media link below, as provided by Mr Williams.