US Check-In: The Southeast Demands More Solar + Storage

by Anna Gretz
February 17, 2020
solar

We know California is all-in on solar + storage...

What's going on in the rest of the country?

A lot of the same, actually, even if it's not at the same blistering pace. Depending on where you live, you have probably never heard of the Tennesse Valley Authority... but you're about to. The seven-state federal power agency just announced that it's going to add 484 megawatts of solar power, expanding its renewable energy resources considerably. 

In a recent article on Greentech Media, Jeff St. John reported that TVA signed the contract for the additional solar, increasing its generation by 44 percent. 

The best part? Batteries are involved, too.

Not only does the TVA plan to add solar, but they plan to pair it with a 50-megawatt/200-megawatt-hour battery system. That's huge. But it gets even better. All of these projects are part of a long-term integrated resource plan. When the plan is complete (28 years from now), TVA will be the proud owners of up to 8,000 megawatts of solar, plus 2,400 megawatts of energy storage. All of this will serve their customers in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virgina. 

southeast-solar

We're jealous.

That's 700 megawatts of brand-spanking-new solar year over year... for 20 years. This would mean that they could close their aging coal-fired power plants. In fact, the last operating Paradise Fossil Plant in Kentucky is now completel shut down, a promise the company made in April of last year. 

How is all of this possible?

Here, things get a little sticky. TVA is investing in utility-scale solar while reducing the compensation they give for customer-woned solar panels. This mean that homeowners who own rooftop solar are getting less money back for the energy they are generating themselves, and releasing back into the grid. Rooftop solar advocates (and owners) are not happy about this. But TVA says that the switch is justified, since utility-scale solar's prices have dropped, and it's simply a better investment. Other utilities are backing up this decision, including east-coasters like Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light. They're all doing similar work on the utility-scale solar scene. 

Massive solar + storage installations? Sounds pretty good.

It does. But we're still excited about the small-scale residential solar work being done around the country, too. Home batteries could solve the issue of lower on-site solar generation compensation, keeping generated energy at home. It's a win-win for customers and utilities (oh, and the earth. We'll go ahead and call it a win-win-win.)