Renewable energy is energy created from sustainable resources such as sunlight, wind, hydropower, geothermal heat, biofuels, and biomass. It is used in place of conventional fuels in the areas of electricity generation, hot water/space heating, transportation, and off-grid energy. Benefits to using renewables include increased energy security, reduced environmental pollution, improved public health and greater economic diversity.
In our community and surrounding area, most renewable energy projects are utilizing solar panels, referred to as photovoltaics (PV). These panels absorb the sun’s energy during the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. The DC current passes through an inverter to convert it to alternating current (AC) which is usable energy for most homes and businesses. The converted electricity is then used in your home, stored on a battery back-up or sent back to the grid.
TVA Generation - Renewable Energy Programs
Green Switch, Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Green-e Energy certified program, meets environmental and consumer-protection standards set forth by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions. The program allows residential and business customers the option to support renewable energy by making a monthly investment. For every $2 that Green Switch participants add to their electricity bill, TVA ensures that 200 kilowatt-hours of their electricity consumption comes from a renewable source. That’s assurance of action to help protect our environment and reduce carbon footprint. Find out more at TVA's Valley Renewable Energy for Home website.
Dispersed Power Production is Tennessee Valley Authority's program that allows for residential and small business customers that self-generate power with a renewable power system to sell instantaneous excess power to TVA. The program supports efforts to promote energy efficiency, increase renewable energy and provide the Valley with low-cost, reliable, clean power. Find out more at TVA's Valley Renewable Energy for Home website.
Self Generation - Solar Energy
Residential and business customers can self-generate power by installing solar panels (photovoltaics.) When considering on-site solar generation, careful consideration to size generation capacity and/or battery storage should be taken as any power generation in excess of instantaneous consumption flows back to the grid without financial benefit to the customer. We strongly recommend customers research all aspects of solar generation in order to make an informed decision. Before any on-site solar generation project begins, customers must fill out the Interconnection Agreement below and reach out to us to discuss your potential project as there are protocols to be met to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees. Below are a few frequently asked questions to help you determine if solar is right for you.
Will the panels still produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
The amount of power your solar energy system can generate is dependent on sunlight. Therefore, your solar panels will produce less energy when the skies are cloudy and zero energy at night.
Will I be able to go off-grid if I install solar panels?
Although you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing the power you need or return power to the grid when you produce more than you use.
I’m on solar power, I shouldn’t have an electric bill right?
Even though you have a solar energy system with or without battery storage, you will still receive an electric bill as you are still connected to the grid.
How do I know what size solar energy system to get?
Generally speaking, size is determined by calculating the amount of electricity need to generate per day based on your daily kWh usage and the average number of hours per day of peak sunlight in your area. You can find many sources and formulas online to use when determining the size.
What’s the cost and payback of a solar energy system?
When considering whether or not to install a solar energy system, a solar calculator can help you make an informed decision. TVA’s solar calculator is intended to be used by residential and small business customers who want true cost and payback of installing solar in the Tennessee Valley. Check out TVA’s Solar Calculator or click the TVA Solar Calculator button below.
How long will my solar energy system last?
Solar panels are very durable and built to withstand snow, wind, and hail. Due to the fact that there are little to no moving parts, solar panels rarely break from within, given they aren’t physically damaged by external factors. Based on solar industry rule of thumb, the life span of solar panels is about 25-30 years. Energy production doesn’t stop, it just declines by what manufacturers of the panels consider to be a significant amount.
Does the utility company install the solar energy system?
Solar energy systems should only be installed by a qualified, licensed solar professional. Before selecting a contractor to do the install, be sure to check sources like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp for credible reviews on any potential contractors you are considering. While the utility company does not do the install, it does need to approve your solar energy system before interconnection. This will ensure the solar energy system will safely connect and operate on the grid.
If you have the solar knowledge you need but not sure about installation or what contractor/company to use, review the beneficial information below to help you in your pursuit of solar technologies:
- Avoid the Promise of “Free” Solar - The old adage of “if it sounds too good to be true” fits. Most claims of “free” solar often refer to the solar generating systems financed with loans not requiring a down payment.
- Evaluate All Options - Before selecting a contractor to do the install, be sure to check sources like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp for credible reviews on any potential contractors you are considering.
- Verify the Details - Incentives of large tax credits or rebates should be verified with a trusted financial or an accountant before signing any agreement or paperwork.
- Confirm Local Power Company Partnerships - Most local power companies have no connections or partnerships with solar installers. Jackson Energy Authority does not sell or finance solar energy systems, so it’s important to not sign any contracts until you understand all of the details.
- Always Read the Fine Print - When presented with quotes, be sure to review and understand all financing terms to protect yourself from predatory lending. Before agreeing to the terms provided by the contractor, consider financing the system through your own preferred financial institution.
- Haste Makes Waste - Installing your own solar energy system is a big investmet so it's best to take it slow and make educated, informed decisions when choosing to your solar energy system contractor. The increasing growth in the solar industry is unfortunately attracting companies that do not have the best interest of the customer in mind. Be aware of high pressure sales tactics (on the phone, at the door and during a scheduled home appointment,) misleading information and false partnerships