On November 8, SACE submitted feedback to TVA on their proposal to cast off a program that compensates clients for solar generated at their house or enterprise and substitute it with an inventory of authorised contractors.

Maggie Shober and Bryan Jacob | November 12, 2019 | Alabama, Solar, Tennessee, Utilities

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is essentially failing to embrace renewable energy as a strategic precedence. As with TVA’s latest pro-gas future resource plan and anti-solar rate changes, TVA continues to mislead clients. Additionally, the Draft 2019 Changes to Green Power Providers (GPP) Environmental Assessment (EA) additional illustrate that TVA has turn out to be more and more hostile to solar within the Tennessee Valley.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) submitted comments to TVA on November 8. together with almost 200  TVA clients together with Tennessee residents, small enterprise homeowners, and many others. Here is what we collectively name on TVA to do:

  • Continue to supply GPP with the present phrases by the tip of 2020.
  • Perform an up to date and complete Value of Solar research.
  • Engage stakeholders in a real, clear course of to develop an appropriate different to the GPP program that pretty compensates clients for offering advantages to all TVA clients.

No time to learn our full feedback? We’ve summarized them beneath to make it simple for you to comply with the problem.

What is the Green Power Providers (GPP) program?

Beginning in 2007, the GPP program established TVA as an early chief on distributed solar within the Southeast, providing “businesses and homeowners a chance to be a part of TVA’s work in generating clean, renewable energy for the people and communities of our region. [Customers] agree to install a small-scale renewable energy system on [their] property and TVA pays [that customer] for every kilowatt hour generated by that system.” However, TVA has made adjustments because the program’s starting and now TVA lags behind different main Southeast utilities on distributed solar, as seen within the chart beneath. Effective on the finish of 2019, the GPP program will probably be closed to new purposes, however will keep present contracts till they expire. The finish of the GPP program with out a strong alternative means TVA clients lose the flexibility to select to set up their very own technology and be pretty compensated for offering companies to different clients.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA Form 861

TVA more and more hostile to solar within the Tennessee Valley

The solely important solar in TVA’s pipeline for the subsequent 5 years is solely to fulfill the demand of huge company clients (e.g., tasks like these for Facebook and Google). While slicing offers for massive companies and blocking the solar from smaller clients, TVA’s lengthy-time period useful resource plan authorised by the TVA Board earlier this 12 months misled the public about how much solar TVA actually intends to include on its system. Contrary to the headlines, TVA is not on track to install significant amounts of solar, distributed or in any other case, anytime quickly.

TVA builds solar for clients like Google and Facebook, because it ought to, however refuses to compensate smaller clients for solar they generate themselves.

TVA’s personal program design drives below-utilization

In its proposal, TVA makes an attempt to justify eliminating the GPP as a result of it claims this system is underutilized. As a self-regulated monopoly, TVA has unique authority to design this system. If it’s not enticing, that’s as a result of TVA made it so.

The proposal TVA put out exhibits a transparent correlation between the variety of residents that set up solar and the quantity these residents are paid for their technology. As TVA has decreased that quantity, the variety of residents putting in solar has dropped. In reality, program participation elevated in 2019 as TVA held the technology credit score regular from 2018 by 2019. This signifies TVA clients need to set up solar, and desire a regular program that compensates them pretty for solar they generate, which is opposite to TVA’s claims.

Additionally, in its personal market study TVA discovered {that a} majority of households surveyed both had not heard of the GPP or didn’t know a lot about it. If TVA had been to hold the GPP because it at present stands and market this system, it might possible see an uptick in residential solar installations.

TVA continues bogus claims of price shifting

TVA claims right here and elsewhere that buyer-put in solar shifts utility prices onto clients with out solar. This declare has been disproved in quite a few research, a few of which we element in our comments. TVA ought to cease making such unsupported claims and stick to the details.

Distributed solar is an important companion to massive-scale solar

TVA’s proposal presents a false selection between massive-scale solar and the distributed solar that clients set up on properties and companies. The two serve completely different functions and supply completely different advantages to clients. Riding a bus usually prices lower than driving a automobile. Would TVA oppose automobile possession?

Both distributed solar and huge-scale solar supply energy (MWh) and capability (MW) worth to the system – and each present environmental advantages by offsetting standard technology sources, like fossil. Distributed solar, nonetheless, delivers further facets of worth. Notable amongst these are: diminished line losses, averted or diminished transmission and distribution capital funding, and added resiliency. These values cut back utility prices and thus lead to decrease charges for all clients. If put in with storage and in order that the system can separate safely from the grid, distributed solar additionally supplies backup power to the house or enterprise the place it’s put in within the case of a power outage. TVA tried a research to quantify the advantages distributed solar in 2015, although this research omitted key values similar to well being and financial advantages of changing fossil technology with non-emitting solar.

A mix or distributed solar and huge-scale solar set up is critical if TVA desires to additional reduce its carbon emissions which are on track to only reduce 6% in the next 20 years.

TVA ought to enhance, not substitute, the GPP

When you put in solar at your house or enterprise you might be connecting it to the distribution grid of your native utility, in a roundabout way to the big transmission traces run by TVA. The physics of electrical energy counsel that technology from GPP solar stays inside the native utility’s community and doesn’t make it out to TVA transmission traces. Consequently, there isn’t any obvious cause that TVA ought to essentially be concerned within the transactions. Though, TVA claims the TVA Act prohibits your native utility from compensating solar clients for the advantages they supply to all native clients. If native utilities have the authority to implement their very own energy-efficiency applications, then the identical ought to apply for distributed solar.

TVA’s personal survey discovered the GPP program to be extra standard than the proposed alternative choice, subsequently TVA must be increasing and bettering the GPP program as a substitute of eliminating it. Improvements ought to embrace: develop entry to low-revenue households, renters, and other people residing in multi-household properties; add this system options mentioned within the GPP Replacement EA like a top quality contractor community; and make the method to join extra streamlined and constant throughout the Tennessee Valley.

Local utilities must be empowered to design solar applications that meet the wants of their native enterprise and residential clients. Any technology native utilities require from the TVA transmission system would nonetheless be solely from TVA and conform to the restrictive, all-necessities contracts between the native utilities and TVA.

The options TVA thought-about to substitute the GPP are completely inadequate. Customers deserve a solar program that compensates them equitably for the power they generate and provide to their native utility. TVA ought to withdraw the changes to GPP and return to the drafting board. To assist in shortly stabilizing the worldwide climate, each massive-scale and distributed, buyer-owned solar are wanted to decarbonize TVA’s electrical grid as quick as attainable. TVA can do higher to keep grid resiliency, and defend the folks and locations it serves throughout the Southeast. 

Click here to read the ‘Solar in the Southeast’ mini-blog series to see which Southeastern utilities are SunRisers and which fall into the SunBlockers category (hint, this article is about one).

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