TVA planning changes that would crush the Valley’s homegrown solar industry

The success of solar in Tennessee is threatened by a sudden policy change proposed by TVA that could take effect in January of 2016. (© TVA)

TVA recently made it known that it intends to suddenly slash its solar programs in 2016, a decision that threatens to halt new solar installations at local homes, farms, and businesses while crippling Tennessee's burgeoning solar industry, which is providing high-paying, long-term, local jobs and helping local businesses save money on electric bills.

TVA’s planned cuts to 2016 solar programs include:

  • Completely dropping its program for utility-scale solar projects.
  • Slashing its mid-scale solar program in half, from 20 MW to 10 MW.
  • Giving the electric coops and municipal utilities the monopolistic power to veto mid-scale solar projects in their territories.
  • Removing a $1,000 installation rebate for residential rooftop solar panels.

Before announcing these cuts, TVA made an empty promise to include the public on its solar decisions. Then the utility quietly and suddenly made severe cuts to its solar programs without consulting stakeholders or even its own board members.

Over the past year and a half a group of stakeholders, including SELC, were convened by TVA to study the value of rooftop solar and the costs and benefits to TVA from solar installations. The final value included in the report does not reflect the true value of solar to the Tennessee Valley because it omits the environmental and public health costs of burning fossil fuels as well as economic development benefits of solar. Yet TVA is using those findings to support this sudden change of policy.

SELC and its partners are trying to stop this disastrous blow to a bright spot in Tennessee’s economy by advocating for TVA to maintain its current solar programs while allowing time for public input on any changes.

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