On June 7, TSEA organized a workshop to discuss expanding solar energy in Tennessee. We were joined by Gil Hough from TenneSEIA and Stephen Smith from SACE. The workshop covered many topics, including recent rate changes by TVA and obstacles solar energy users may encounter in the future. Thank you to our speakers and everyone who attended our event!
The ongoing debate around whether it’s feasible to have an electric grid running on 100 percent renewable power in the coming decades often misses a key point: many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are seven countries already at, or very, near 100 percent renewable power: Iceland (100 percent), Paraguay (100), Costa Rica (99), Norway (98.5), Austria (80), Brazil (75), and Denmark (69.4). The main renewables in these countries are hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar.
A new international study, which debunks many myths about renewable energy, notes that many large population regions are “at or above 100%” including Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Hostein regions, New Zealand’s South Island, and Denmark’s Samsø island. In Canada, both Quebec and British Columbia are at nearly 100 percent renewable power.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has projected that by 2040, Germany’s grid will see nearly 75 percent renewable penetration, Mexico will be over 80 percent, and Brazil and Italy will be over 95 percent. BNEF was not looking at what could theoretically happen by mid-century if countries pushed as hard as required by the Paris Climate Accord. They were just looking at business as usual over the next two decades.
Pumped hydro is by far the most widely used electricity storage system in the world. Water is pumped from a reservoir at a lower level to one at a higher level when there is excess electricity or when electricity can be generated at a low cost. Then, during a period of high electricity demand (and price), water in the upper reservoir is run through the hydroelectric plant’s turbines to produce electricity for immediate sale.
In 2016, NOAA researchers concluded that just with “improvements in transmission infrastructure” using existing technology, “the United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years while meeting increased demand.”
In the coming years, emerging and existing technology will work together to bring deeper and deeper penetration of carbon free power into the grid. The only question is no longer “if” but “when.”
Silicon Ranch Corp., a Nashville-based solar energy company founded by former Governor Phil Bredesen, attracted a major investment from global oil and gas corporation Shell, now its largest shareholder.
The deal, which could total $217 million, will provide a solar energy platform in the U.S. to Netherlands-based Shell while allowing Silicon Ranch to enter new markets and expand offerings. Silicon Ranch is developing, owns or operates 100 solar energy facilities in 14 states across the U.S.
Shell, which generated more than $233 billion in revenue in 2016, will buy a nearly 44 percent interest in Silicon Ranch from Switzerland-based investment manager Partners Group. The purchase amount will be based on Silicon Ranch’s performance, and Shell has the ability to increase its position after 2021.
Silicon Ranch will continue to be led by CEO Matt Kisber and Chief Financial Officer Reagan Farr. Both men founded the company in 2010 with Bredesen, after serving as commissioners in his administration.
Bredesen serves as Silicon Ranch chairman and is now pursuing a U.S. Senate seat. If he is elected, he intends to step down as chairman to focus on senate duties, Kisber said.
For many utilities and companies, solar offers the lowest cost option for long-term energy because solar construction costs have dropped significantly, Kisber said. He expects demand for solar energy to increase as technology further improves, costs continue to decrease and as more consumers prioritize renewable energy.
In 2016, Shell prioritized new energy technology and established a solar energy office in San Francisco, Kisber said. That same year, Silicon Ranch raised two rounds of capital and was not looking for new partners. But, as Shell sought to acquire an existing solar platform, Silicon Ranch recognized the growth opportunities the partnership offered, Kisber said.
Silicon Ranch employs about 30 people in Nashville, San Francisco and Denver. That a Nashville company garnered a major investment from a global corporation for new energy technology is a notable achievement for the local business community, said Mayor Megan Barry.
“Nashville is home to a diverse group of industry-leading, cutting edge businesses, and today’s announcement represents another proud moment for our city’s corporate
community," Barry said. "It is a testament to the success of our very own Silicon Ranch that Shell—one of the world’s energy leaders—has selected it as a strategic partner for building a successful global solar business.”
If your state has net-metering programs that compensate you for the excess electricity your solar array produces and exports back to the grid—and there's a good chance they do, given that 43 states and the District of Columbia currently have them—you will often hear utilities make an argument when they decide they want to dismantle them.
Specifically, they try to label you, as a solar consumer, a mooch that lives off your fellow hard-working ratepayers. Their argument goes something like this:
Solar consumers produce their own solar power on-site, meaning that you are not using their distribution and transmission systems (aka "the grid"). Therefore, the argument goes, you are not paying your fair share of upkeep of the grid. And since you aren't paying for it, someone else obviously must—and so they claim those costs shift to non-solar customers.
Is it a really complicated question?
Turns out, it really isn't. Sixteen state-level studies, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, have disproven the cost-shift argument. And the definitive national study, done by the well-respected solar research laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, has found an even more specific repudiation of the utilities' argument.
Berkeley found that most states—all but three, in fact—have a negligible solar power cost shift at all. Why? Because most states have solar penetration levels far below 10%. Until you hit that level of penetration (i.e., the total amount of solar electricity capacity installed), there's no cost shift at all. At the present, the percent of solar energy penetration is less than 1%.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, even at penetration levels of 10% or higher, the “shift” is only 5/1,000 of a cent per kilowatt-hour. Ultimately, even at high rates of solar penetration, the effects on the bills of non-solar consumers are infinitesimal.
Furthermore, the argument doesn't consider the benefits of having more solar on the grid brings, including peak-shaving (the easing of grid strain during periods of high electricity use), utilities' avoided costs (the more solar on the grid, the fewer expensive traditional power plants they have to build) and, naturally, the environmental benefits.
One study in Maine, in fact, showed that solar consumers would save other ratepayers $750 million over 20 years.
Herein lies the crucial question: If the “cost-shift” argument is so blatantly false, why do utilities keep making it? And how can solar consumers fight it?
As we've discussed elsewhere, it's one of the oddest industry relationships we've ever encountered. After all, solar does need utility support from time to time, and utility customers want solar. At the same time, however, that symbiotic relationship is constantly being challenged by the competing economic models.
The more customer-sited solar there is, the fewer customers are feeding the utilities' coffers and keeping their investors' dividends high.
Given this competition/rivalry, it's no wonder the utilities still make the argument, is it? It's a way to split solar users from non-solar users in a way that allows them to keep their monopoly, centralized electricity distribution model in place.
But, armed with knowledge (and a handy link to the Berkeley study), you can now make sure your utility is never again able to use this argument to dismantle the most-effective incentive to encourage solar adoption.
And you can stop feeling guilty. You are not only not mooching off your neighbors, but you're improving the grid and its reliability for everyone.
Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport may soon become the nation's first to be 100 percent energy self sufficient via solar power.
Airport officials Monday agreed to move ahead with initial work on a third phase of its existing solar farm.
The newest phase, slated to come online late this year, would help create enough electricity, which the airport sells to the Tennessee Valley Authority, to pay Lovell Field's power bill, said Terry Hart, the airport's chief executive.
"It will be great to see that," Hart said at an Airport Authority meeting, noting that cutting energy costs helps the airport keep down landing and other fees.
John Naylor, the airport's vice president of planning and development, said Dillard Construction Co. offered a low bid of $634,000 to conduct site work. That includes lowering by nine feet the elevation of the site, which is located on the west side of the main runway, he said. The site needed lowering because of federal runway requirements, Naylor said.
He said 90 percent of the cost of the work will be paid with a federal grant with the airport paying the remainder.
Naylor said some airports claim to be energy self-sufficient, though they use renewable energy tax credits to reach that level rather than producing all their power needs.
Currently, the first two phases of the Chattanooga airport's solar array meets 72 percent of its power requirements, he said.
With the help of $4 million in federal grants, Chattanooga airport installed nearly 4,000 solar panels in 2012. Later, the airport garnered another $3 million in federal money, allowing it to expand its solar farm to 2.1 megawatts.
In all, when the third phase is complete, about $10 million would have been spent for the solar farm, Naylor said. Most of the cost will be paid by federal grants.
Authority member Farzana Khaleel said she'd like to see how much of a return on investment the airport is receiving.
"You've got to look at it from the total view — not just what we're spending," she said.
Also, Authority member Mike Mallen asked how much dirt the company will be moving.
"Dirt is a commodity," he said.
According to the company, it will move about 30,000 cubic yards of dirt, or about 3,000 truckloads.
Dan Jacobson, the Authority's chairman, said he's glad to see the airport is moving ahead with the solar farm's third phase.
"I think it's important work," he said. "We'll look at its value and it will be good to go through that exercise."
Naylor said that in addition to solar power use, the airport also has cut its energy consumption over the years.
Apple Inc. has gone all-green. The company’s sites worldwide are now completely powered with clean energy, according to a statement Monday. That comprises retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries, and is up from 96 percent reported a year ago.
Corporations have emerged as big buyers of clean energy, driven by large technology companies that are conscious of both cost and climate change. Google, the top corporate buyer, said last week it has enough renewable energy to meet all its needs. Apple is also urging suppliers to follow its lead. It said Monday that nine additional manufacturing partners have agreed to power all of their Apple production with clean power, bringing the total to 23.
“It’s a strong suggestion,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said in an interview Monday. “It will at some point become a requirement.”
Apple is currently building two data centers in Denmark that will run entirely on clean power. The company has 25 operational renewable-energy plants around the world, and 15 more are being built. Once those are completed, it will have more than 1.4 gigawatts of clean capacity across 11 countries.
Nearly three years after Google first announced plans to build a data center in Alabama, the search engine giant said Monday it expects to finish the first phase of the $600 million project on a portion of what was once one of TVA's biggest coal plants.
The Google complex, which is expected to employ from 75 to 100 people there once in full operation, was heralded by Alabama officials Monday for turning an economic hardship to a potential economic windfall.
Bridgeport Mayor David Hughes said Google's decision to locate in Jackson County should transform the Bridgeport area.
"Having Google in our area will usher in a new era for our community," Hughes said. "Ultimately, Google will help us recruit other high-tech companies to our area."
Google bolstered Hughes' optimism Monday by announcing a $100,000 grant to the Jackson County school district to enhance local science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
Google is building its newest data center — only the eighth in the United States and the 14th worldwide for the search engine giant — on 360 acres of the 2,000-acre site of the shuttered Widows Creek Fossil Plant.
The former TVA plant shut down in 2015 after generating coal-fired electricity for TVA for 63 years. At its peak, Widows Creek employed more than 500 employees and provided hundreds of other support jobs in the region.
Google was attracted to the site on the Tennessee River because of the availability of land, water, labor and clean renewable energy. TVA can use some of the existing power lines for the data center's electricity demand and has pledged to provide Google renewable solar, wind or hydro-generated power to comply with Google's desire to use 100 percent clean energy. Google says its data centers use 50 percent less energy than other comparable data centers.
Google is building its Bridgeport facility — and another similar data center on another former TVA site in Clarksville, Tenn. — to help meet growing demand in the Southeast for cloud-based services, searches and video streaming.
Although Google won't initially be a major employer in Jackson County, state and local officials said they hope to decision by Google to locate in Northeast Alabama will spur other technology companies to consider the area as well.
While the president is paid an annual salary of $400,000-plus over $150,000 in non-taxable spending accounts and perks like free housing-the president’s compensation package pales next to the compensation package of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recently disclosed it increased Johnson’s total compensation by nearly 50 percent in 2013 to $5.9 million, more than 14 times the president’s salary.
TVA is a federally owned power company yet it pays its executives at the private sector level. If retaining an executive to head a federal agency requires this high level of compensation (as TVA asserts), it is time for policy makers to revisit TVA’s existence as a federal agency and make the entire entity, not just its pay scales, comparable to private firms to which its executives’ compensation packages are compared.
Like other federal employees, Johnson’s base salary of $708,000-close to double the president’s salary-was frozen last year under the federal pay freeze but remains a hefty amount by most standards. And his base salary accounts for just 12 percent of his total compensation last year; most of what was paid to Johnson last year came from performance incentives of nearly $2.6 million and deferred compensation payments of $2.06 million, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Several other TVA employees out-earn the president as well, earning over one million dollars per year.
But for Tennessee Valley Authority being an agency of the federal government, there is nothing objectionable about TVA’s Board of Directors compensating its executives at these high levels. Executive compensation is an essential element of managing risk and providing incentive. With $10.9 billion in operating revenues and $44 billion of assets on its balance sheet, TVA’s CEO and other leaders have major responsibilities in this large, complex organization. TVA is one of the biggest producers of electricity in the nation, as measured by megawatt hours produced. According to its latest annual report, TVA operates six nuclear plants (with a seventh being built) and a range of other power-generating facilities, has roughly 16,000 miles of transmission lines, manages and services $26 billion in debt, and employs 12,600 people.
Overall, the issue is that TVA is an agency of the federal government. If the federal government needs to pay the agency’s CEO at that level, it is but another reason why TVA should no longer be part of the federal government, something the Trump administration is exploring.
There are two ways to rectify the issue of TVA-a public sector service-offering private sector compensation. The first option is to align its executive compensation with other federal executive employees by utilizing the federal government’s Executive Schedule. TVA’s chief executive officer would be compensated the same as the secretary of energy, for example, as they would both be classified as Executive Level 1 employees. As of January 1, 2012, an Executive Level 1 federal employee’s annual salary is $199,700. The likelihood, however, of either Congress or the TVA Board of Directors reducing the CEO’s compensation this significantly is nil, which leads to consideration of a second option.
The second-and better-option is to make the Tennessee Valley Authority become more like the utilities it compares itself to when determining its executives’ compensation. Divesting the TVA by subjecting the compensation of TVA’s CEO and other executives to board members elected by and accountable to shareholders, is the sensible path to pursue. TVA executives should not only be compensated like executives at comparable utilities, but also should operate in the same environment as comparable utilities and be subject to the same economic forces as other utility executives, be it investor-owned utilities or non-federal public power utilities.
The Tennessee Valley Authority wants to hear from electric customers on its proposed rate change.
Even though it would reportedly be revenue neutral for TVA, it will have an impact on customers' wallets.
The proposed rate change will move costs from the industrial class onto the commercial and residential classes, which will result in those customers having to pay more for the electricity they use.
TVA provides energy for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states, including Cookeville Electric, Upper Cumberland Electric Corporation and Volunteer Energy Cooperative.
The TVA says the rate change would revise the structure of wholesale electric power rates to better align wholesale rates with the underlying costs to serve the 154 local power companies who serve TVA's service territory. As proposed, the standard service energy rate would be reduced and a grid access charge would be established to recover the same amount.
According to the VEC statement posted on the company's Facebook, TVA has increased the wholesale rate each October by 1.5 percent over the last five years.
The proposed grid access charge will be applied as an additional charge per kilowatt-hour on the first 1,000 kWh of monthly usage. The proposed rate is $.002 per kWh, in addition to the standard energy rate.
"The grid access charge will have the greatest impact on members using 1,000 kWh or less of energy in a month," VEC officials stated. "We estimate the effect on these smaller accounts to be an increase of 2-2.5 percent, in addition to the 1.5 percent wholesale rate increase that will be applied to all accounts in October, and the 1 percent access charge premium that will be applied to all energy being sold."
All of those changes will equate to an increase of between 3.5 and 5 percent on a typical residential bill.
This has not yet gone before the TVA board for approval, but public comments are welcome through April 9 by emailing Matthew Higdon at email@example.com, by mail, 400 West Summit Hill Dr., WT 11D, Knoxville, TN 37902.
All local electric company officials encourage customers to make their voices heard.
The proposed changes can be viewed at TVA's website at www.tva.gov/environment/environmental-stewardship/environmental-reviews/2018-rate-change.
From the point of view of PV project developers, engineers and contractors, 100-page interconnection agreements, long review periods and much-feared impact studies—which can delay or even derail a proposed PV system—may seem like unnecessary obstacles. However, if industry professionals ignore the challenges that increasing amounts of PV penetration present for grid operators, it is at their own peril.
Debbie Dooley’s conservative profile seems impeccable. The gun-owning daughter of a Baptist preacher, she was an early organizer for the Tea Party movement. She voted for President Donald Trump and still supports him.
But when it comes to energy, her independent streak sends her down a different path: She takes issue with some of Trump’s signature positions, goes up against some of the nation’s biggest utility companies and often crosses conventional partisan lines.
Dooley opposes the tariff the president imposed on solar-panel imports in January. As for coal, which Trump has championed, it will never “be the king it once was,” she said. She accepts that human activity is causing climate change — and worries that it will threaten the health of the next generation, including her 9-year-old grandson, who has asthma.
To her, those beliefs are consistent with the rest of her worldview. “We should be focusing on the technologies of the future, not the dinosaur technology of the past,” Dooley said. “Our energy grid is vulnerable to attack. Rooftop solar keeps us safe. People like solar.”
Homes and businesses that participate in Green Power Switch are already doing something good for the environment. Now, TVA and participating power distributors offer consumers even greater opportunity to support the growth of Green Power in the Tennessee Valley with the following programs:
Under TVA’s Green Power Providers KUB customers may install a solar, wind, low-impact hydropower, or biomass generation system up to 50 kilowatts. Participants sell all electricity produced directly to TVA. This program offers full retail value for all of the electricity produced. Mid-size renewable projects ranging from above 50 kilowatts to 5 Megawatts may qualify for TVA's Distributed Solar Solutions pilot program. The pilot program is designed for projects implemented in partnership with local power companies. Please reference TVA's DSS guidelines.
Facilities that generate power up to 80 Megawatts may qualify for TVA's Dispersed Power Production program.
KUB currently charges a $250 application fee for the Green Power Providers program and $500 for the Distributed Solar Solutions and Dispersed Power Production programs
The Nashville Electric Service will soon break ground on a solar project that will help with energy consumption.
The nine-acre lot off Interstate 65 in Madison used to be a landfill but hasn’t been used in 40 years. Soon though, the space will be transformed and will have an entirely new purpose – creating solar energy.
“It’s going to be the first two megawatts solar ray. [It’ll] be the largest community solar array here in Nashville,” said Sylvia Smith, Vice President of Customer Services.
The panels will provide energy to about 210 homes on average.
“It captures the sun and provides the electricity into the electric system and into the grid,” explained Smith. “We will be monitoring the generation from the sun for the solar, then the credit will be on the customers’ bill based on the generation for that panel monthly.”
The cost is a one-time fee of $215.
“One solar panel, the subscription, will on average produce a $12 credit to the customer on their bill,” Smith said.
Over the 20-year life of the project, the panels will put out $50 million kilowatts of energy and it will also be a place to learn.
“There will be an overlook and we will be providing and working with our local schools and colleges where we can go out and help provide the education to our youth about solar and youth about clean and renewable energy,” Smith explained.
Space is already filling up, but plans for more solar energy projects are in the works.
“We think it’s a beginning and we are looking at the future for additional sites,” Smith said.
Any NES customer can apply. A Solar Angel program has also been established by NES and the Community Foundation. The program will provide low-income customers with solar assistance.
The initial groundbreaking on the project was postponed and a new date has not yet been set.
Donald Trump has come up with a new idea on how to cover the costs for a proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico: build it with solar panels.
At a White House meeting Tuesday, Trump floated the concept of “beautiful structures,” 40 to 50 feet high, that generate clean electricity from the sun – and would help cover the cost of the project, according to comments reported by Axios.
The U.S. border with Mexico is almost 2,000 miles long. Trump has said his wall, designed to prevent immigrants from crossing into the United States illegally, will cover 1,000 miles, with natural obstacles doing the rest of the work.
That’s a lot of solar panels, potentially generating a significant amount of energy. But the realities of building a 1,000-mile wall covered with solar panels – and then getting that electricity to market on either side of the border – are not so simple.
With few actual details about the design of the wall, the cost of building it or the price that would be paid for the electricity, it is difficult to make any realistic conclusions about the impact of Trump’s solar wall – assuming it ever gets built.
Predictions vary dramatically based on what assumptions about solar wall construction are factored in to the calculations.
Tom Gleason, owner and founder of a company that submitted a proposal to build a solar border wall, has said that his design could generate two megawatts of electricity per hour, would cost about $6 million per mile to build and would pay for itself in 20 years. Given that an average solar panel operates at about 20 percent efficiency, and factoring a few other challenges, this leaves the solar border wall operating at just 8 percent efficiency. That’s a big disadvantage.
Then there is the question of finding a market for any electricity that would be generated by a solar wall in a remote section of the country. With less than 2 percent of the U.S. population living within 40 miles of the Mexico border, the electricity generated by the wall would mostly be useless – unless costly transmission lines were built to take the electricity to other areas of the country.
According to a 2012 study from the Institution of Engineering Technology, a professional association based in Britain, an overhead transmission cable has a lifetime cost of around $8.8 million per mile, with underground cables shooting up to $50.2 million per mile.
This means, to transmit power from the Mexico border to North Dakota, Trump would have to factor in costs of more than $8 billion, at least – in addition to the cost of the solar array, the wall and workmanship.
Alternatively, the power could go the other way, helping to power homes in Mexico – thereby fulfilling another presidential promise, suggested Jigar Shah, founder and former chief executive of SunEdison, a solar-energy company.
“If the power were to be sold to the Mexican people – power they desperately need – then the President-elect could actually make good on his promise to say that the Mexican people paid for the wall,” he wrote in a January blog post.
“Even without buy-in from Mr. Trump, the Mexican president could pursue this wall on his own territory, with financing from private investors,” they write. “This would put a positive spin on Mr. Trump’s idea of a structure to divide the two countries. [President Enrique] Peña Nieto could invite his northern neighbors to take part in the initiative, or Mexico could simply reap the financial and environmental benefits for itself.”
Given China’s global domination of the solar-panel-making industry, it might be hard for Trump to defend himself against the charge that building a wall out of made-in-China solar panels would be a gift to an economic competitor – let alone an energy boost to Mexico.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, which supplies electricity for Warren Rural Electric Cooperative and Bowling Green Municipal Utilities, reported in its quarterly financial disclosure a net income of $288 million for the three months ending Dec. 31. Net income was up $186 million from the same period last year, primarily due to overall lower expenses.
TVA’s total operating revenues of about $2.5 billion for the quarter were relatively flat when compared to the first quarter last year. Power sales were up about 2 percent for the quarter on more normal weather, as milder weather affected sales during the same period last year. Even with higher sales volume, fuel and purchased power, expenses were down $115 million, or about 14 percent, primarily because of an increase in low-cost hydroelectric production and slightly lower natural gas prices.
Although more energy-efficient technology continues to develop, utility bills are currently at an all-time high in Knoxville. Knoxville Utility Board data reveals that utility bills have increased by as much as 80 percent in the last 20 years due to fixed-rate increases by KUB. According to the data, a house that uses 1,000 kilowatts per hour in a month would have paid $60.07 in 1998, but the same amount would cost a resident $108.25 today.
The Knoxville Utility Board charged customers just $5.32 in basic service fees from 1997 to 2003, which is the amount customers pay each month to use KUB's electricity. Energy usage on top of that was $10.28 per kilowatt-hour. In 2004, fixed rates increased by 77 cents and the cost-per-kilowatt-hour went up by about $2.50. In 2011, KUB decreased the cost-per-kilowatt-hour by $2 and instead added $1.91 to its basic service fees. Every year since then basic service fees have increased by $1 and will continue to increase by another $1.50 this year through 2020.
KUB spokesman Mike Bolin states that, "these rate increases of 1 percent or so per year have been about a plan to replace poles, substations, all the infrastructure to provide service."
Steven Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said he would rather see rate increases applied to usage charges. "Increasing the fixed fee has a number of very important negative financial consequences for customers, particularly low-income and lower-electricity users like senior citizens," Smith told the KUB at a recent meeting.
Beyond financial costs, Smith said he is concerned the move toward fixed rates on utilities may destroy the economics around energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Environmental groups have explained that residential customers are trapped into the rate increases if they live in the inner Tennessee valley because there are no other power suppliers. Certain residential distributors on the outer ends of the valley can choose to get their power from other nearby suppliers. Unfortunately, distributors in the inner valley do not have this option. By federal law, no other power suppliers can use TVA power lines to reach customers in the Valley, so distributors like KUB must get power from TVA because it is the only local option.
Outraged ratepayers attended a November TVA Board meeting to dispute the new fixed-rate proposal and called the company a "monopoly."
At the meeting, TVA CEO Bill Johnson said the utility did not have a "monopoly" on power supply because its distributing utilities are free to get their power elsewhere.
Aldelano is a Global leader in Industrial-Grade Solar Technology, which has developed a line of products that provide off-grid refrigeration, water generation, and power generation after a natural disaster. Their products provide relief by supplying clean drinking water, refrigeration/freezing cold storage, and renewable power to communities during times of devastation when other power sources are unavailable.
Two of the newest designs include the Aldelano Solar PowerPak/Generator™, which can power up to 7 homes, and the Aldelano Solar BackPack™, a unit that can be connected to an existing insulated room to provide solar-powered refrigeration and freezing. Other products include the flagship Solar ColdBox™, providing industrial sized cold storage including refrigeration and sub-zero freezing, the Solar Chiller™, providing a temperature controlled environment for agriculture and other storage needs, the Solar WaterMaker™, which extracts moisture from the air and purifies it for drinking, and the Solar IceMaker™, which converts up to 2,300 lbs of ice per day.
Aldelano is currently shipping Solar Coldboxes, PowerPaks, and nearly 100 Solar WaterMakers to Antiqua, Barbuda, and British Virgin Islands after Aldelano’s founder, Al Hollingsworth, visited the Caribbean Islands and met with government officials in the area. Three powerful hurricanes decimated areas of the Caribbean region, leaving dozens of people dead, millions without power or safe drinking water, and countless homes destroyed. During natural disasters like this, the primary focus of each day is providing citizens with basic necessities, like food, shelter, and clean drinking water, and Aldelano products make this goal more accessible.
Al Hollingsworth, and his wife, Hattie, have seen the sickness and disease overseas first-hand, which inspired them to brainstorm ways to return with helping hands. Once the company developed its first solar product and saw its effectiveness, they quickly saw the potential the technology could have globally.
“Nations are rich in natural resources, yet are poor because they don’t have systems in place to have access to clean water and preserve their food from harvest to market. We are opening people’s eyes to their own resources and empowering them to birth their dreams and visions. People are dying, and our products are a needed solution, not a vanity ‘want’,” states founder, Hollingsworth. Aldelano solar products have the capacity to improve the lives of many people in the future.
TVA has recently shut its door to an important project regarding renewable energy, that had the potential of producing 3,500 megawatts of clean energy to the Midwest.
Six years ago, the Tennessee Valley Authority signed a contract with Clean Line Energy Partners LLC to consider a long-term power supply arrangement along a 700-mile wind energy transmission line that the company proposed to build through Oklahoma and Arkansas. The high-voltage, direct-current transmission line would carry wind-generated electricity from western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle to TVA, Arkansas and other eastern markets. The line, expected to be completed by 2020, would end in Memphis, and TVA could have had linked to it to use the wind-generated power for its own distribution across the seven-state TVA region.
Bill Johnson, president of TVA, announced that TVA would officially back out of the plan. Johnson claimed it didn't make economic sense because TVA already has enough power-generating capacity and, with nuclear power, already is on path to generate more than half of its power from carbon-free sources. He expressed that the unreliability of wind power would require TVA to build other backup power generators, including natural gas plants, that would offset the promised savings from the wind-generated power sources alone.
His claims, however, sound disingenuous, at best. If TVA has "enough power generating capacity," then the wind power would be treated much as TVA's current hydro plants are treated: When the rivers are high, TVA uses the cheap water power, and when the wind in the plains is high, TVA would use the wind power. Existing gas-fired plants that can be turned up and down — even off — as necessary would be both filler and mainstay.
"TVA killed what could have been one of the biggest and most important renewable energy projects in America," Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in Knoxville, told Times Free Press Business Editor Dave Flessner.
Sadly, a more likely scenario for the sudden wind change is politics: both the opposition to anything wind by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and the new coal-blinded, climate change-denying Trump administration. Alexander, who thinks wind towers are ugly, took to the floor of the U.S. Senate last year to denounce Clean Line's project as unnecessary since TVA doesn't foresee the need for more power in the foreseeable future.
Support for solar energy usage among the public of Tennessee is high. Eighty-one percent of Tennessee voters support the growth of solar energy, and many want it installed in their own homes as well. These polling results come from the conservative polling firm, North Star Opinion Research, and the survey was conducted among voters from a variety of ages, races, genders and geographic locations.
Brian Bickel, who sits on the board of the Tennessee Solar Industries Association, says the results confirm what the industry is seeing.
"I'm not surprised by the support for solar at all," he says. "I think, in this day and age most people want to see more of it. They recognize the value of clean and renewable energy. I think they expect their utility to support them in their efforts to generate clean power on site."
Bickel says the confirmation of public support comes at a critical time when the Tennessee Valley Authority is making solar less economic and accessible for customers. The regional power provider does have a program allowing customers to sell up to 50 kilowatts of green energy back through their local power provider in the service area.
The survey also revealed that people would prefer to pay for their electric bill based on usage rather than a fixed rate, which is what TVA proposed earlier this year.
Stephen Smith, the executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says the agency is proposing policies that would charge people regardless of how much energy they use.
"What TVA wants you to do is pay whether you use electricity or not, and they're the only business that I know of that wants you to have to pay something whether you use their product or not, and it's really grossly unfair," laments Smith.
According to industry estimates, solar panels can cost around $20,000 or more to install, but Bickel says property owners are making an investment that will ultimately pay for itself.
Tennessee ranks 20th across the country in terms of installed solar capacity, but Bickel and others say with 200 days of sun on average each year, the state has the potential to harness much more energy from the sun and would greatly benefit from taking advantage of this renewable resource.