All good things must come to an end. And TVA has again changed their Generation Partner Program. They have publicly stated that they are making the change over from a “pilot program” to a “regular program”.
I have previously explained that TVA is not really interested in actually using solar power. They are interested in appearing to be “pro-solar” at least with a bunch of small solar installations. These motivations are easy to see when you look at the actions of TVA over the past few years.
The current iteration of the generation partner program puts a 10 kW limit on the size of the PV system anyone can install. This 10kW limit is almost large enough to offset a large home’s electrical usage, so it will still be beneficial for almost all residential PV installs. So far so good.
The way TVA will now limit the size of PV systems is by requiring a minimum usage amount. No longer can a maximally sized solar system (50 kW) be paired up with a “new” (or barely used) meter. The size of PV system that one will be allowed to install is dependent upon how much electricity they are using on that meter (on average).
Here is TVA’s (secret) formula for deciding how large a solar system you can install on your house or business by knowing your electrical usage:
- Take your previous annual kWh usage (lets assume it is 24,000 kWh).
- Divide that by 1312.50.
- The answer (18.29 kW) is the maximum size of PV solar system that TVA will allow you to install at that house or business (up to the 50kW absolute maximum).
You ask: where do you get that 1312.5 number from? Well it is the number of hours per year (8750) times the percentage of time that a solar system normally generates (15%).
These limitations will function to keep solar “prospectors” from setting up 50 kW solar “farms” and actually making money off the TVA program. Heaven forbid.
The good news is that large energy users can still install a PV system up to the same maximum size (50 kW). Those businesses with large energy bills can still benefit by installing a PV system that will be able to offset (at least partially) a good portion of their electrical bill.
TVA has publicly declared repeatedly that they will be keeping the $.12/kWh premium ABOVE retail the same through the end of this calendar year (2012). They have also said that they will definitely be LOWERING the premium on January 1st of 2013. If you can lock in the higher premium rates by this December you will continue to get those premium rates for the next 10 years.
Now is the time to get a solar proposal and make sure that you can lock in your electrical rates. Don’t wait too long. Because TVA is already scheduling to lower the solar premium. Apparently TVA will be slowly lowering their premium so that it approaches zero in the next 3 to 4 years.
The slickest trick is to enter the solar playing field BEFORE the incentives disappear, but AFTER the prices have been dramatically reduced. Well…. get in quick because that’s just where we are!
Prices have never been lower… and the incentives are on their way out!