Tennessee Valley Authority resumes pilot project for hydro, other renewables

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced that it is resuming new enrollments in its Generation Partners pilot project to encourage the use of hydro and other renewable energy across the TVA service territory.

Qualifying small hydro, solar, wind or biomass projects of up to 200 kilowatts will be eligible for the Generation Partners incentives, which include a $1,000 payment to offset startup costs. In addition, TVA will buy 100 percent of the green power that participants produce, paying the retail rate, plus any fuel cost adjustment, plus a premium per kilowatt-hour, depending on the type of renewable energy produced.

TVA briefly held up new enrollments to adjust to overwhelming customer response.

“TVA launched Generation Partners as a pilot project, with periodic adjustments expected along the way, to encourage customer interest in small to medium-sized renewable energy projects, such as rooftop solar panels,” said John Trawick, senior vice president of Commercial Operations and Pricing. “The response has exceeded all expectations, prompting us to expand and enhance the program to include additional projects and help support public interest in renewable energy.”

Trawick said that, of the 264 projects approved or completed through Generation Partners to date, 260 are 200 kilowatts or less.

“TVA is honoring all 264 agreements, and we are launching a process to evaluate additional projects totaling more than 200 kilowatts each,” Trawick said. “Our goal is to encourage more widespread use of renewable energy resources across the TVA service territory.”

Additional actions announced include:

Moving 33 additional customer proposals into the approval process;
Evaluating various longer-term solutions aimed at transforming Generation Partners from a pilot project to a firmly established TVA program.

Earlier this year, TVA began approving participation in advance to make it easier for customers to finance projects. Since April 1, TVA and local distributors have received more applications than expected, necessitating modifications to accommodate the larger number of projects.

“It’s a good thing when you realize that your program is increasing in popularity,” Trawick said. “But like any other business that experiences unexpected demand, we need to take another look at the program’s structure to make sure it accommodates customer demand and stays within budget.”

Trawick said TVA is encouraging increased use of renewable energy as a growing part of its power generation efforts for the future.

“Renewable generation produces no air emissions, which supports TVA’s goal of providing a larger percentage of its electricity from non-carbon or low-carbon sources,” he said. “The nation is moving toward requiring more low-carbon and non-carbon electricity generation, and TVA believes it prudent to begin finding ways to work toward this objective.

“Because many renewable electricity technologies are in early stages of development, and currently not cost-competitive for widespread commercial use, we hope that programs such as Generation Partners — which help subsidize early adoption of these new power sources — will help foster their further progress and make them more affordable for the future.”

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