Middle Tennessee Electric building its first community solar project

Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 210,000 residential and business members, which makes it the perfect candidate for community solar. Last week, the co-op broke ground on its first community solar project located in College Grove, Tenn. Construction on the 1-MW solar array will begin this month, and is projected to be complete by the end of October.

radiance solar“We are excited about the possibilities this cooperative solar project brings to our membership,” said MTEMC President Chris Jones. “We are working to be the trusted resource in emerging energy technology, including renewables, energy storage and energy efficiency, for our members.”

The cooperative contracted with Radiance Solar, based in Atlanta, Ga., to construct the array.

RELATED: Community Solar Legal Primer: From project structure to consumer protection 

“Radiance is very excited to be working with MTEMC in their first cooperative solar array. The 1-MW array is an excellent demonstration of Middle Tennessee EMC’s commitment to innovation and providing clean, renewable energy for its members. Radiance is working with leading utilities across the southeast to deploy safe, cost effective, solar energy” said James Marlow, Radiance CEO.

As construction takes place in the coming weeks, the cooperative will finalize the program specific pieces of the project to offer members interested in participating.

“Over the last year, we have led the valley in renewable energy efforts,” said Jones. “This project is one more way we are responding to the needs and desires of our membership when it comes to renewable energy.”

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Radiance Solar is a leading solar contractor, specializing in the design, installation and maintenance of solar energy systems. Radiance has constructed over 50 MW of power in the Southeast on over 200 sites and maintains over 60 MW, including Georgia’s largest solar facility.

— Solar Builder magazine

BlueWave makes solar loan product available in the Carolinas (and has installer incentives)

As the solar market in the Southeastern U.S. booms, BlueWave, a Boston-based Community Solar development and fintech company, has brought its solar loan product to North Carolina and South Carolina. Homeowners in North Carolina and South Carolina looking to finance their home solar systems can now sign up for a BlueWave Home Solar Loan, a product that launched in conjunction with Avidia Bank earlier this year across Massachusetts. The product offers home solar customers a 12-month interest-only period at a 5.99 percent fixed rate for 10 years.

BlueWave capital loan“This is a best-in-class solar loan product with a high value proposition. It provides more homeowners with the option to benefit from the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy at an affordable price. We’re thrilled about the Southeast launch and look forward to expanding our operations in the region,” said BlueWave’s CEO, Trevor Hardy.

On BlueWave’s Solar Management Platform, the entire loan application and contract execution process is digital – applicants are approved within minutes. In addition to this, BlueWave’s new installer incentive program provides its partners with an attractive business case for promoting the BlueWave Home Solar Loan.

RELATED: Four steps for converting more solar sales 

BlueWave’s preferred solar installer network, a list of top installers in the Southeast, is now distributing the loan throughout the Carolinas. The company’s network of installers in the region is growing every day as the industry ramps.

“Avidia Bank is pleased to provide the Carolina markets with an attractive financing product that helps individuals, families and businesses lower energy costs and improve their access to alternative energy sources in the form of solar power,” said Mark O’Connell, Avidia Bank’s President and CEO.

South Carolina offers households a 25% tax-credit for solar installation costs while investor-owned utilities now offer various incentives as part of respective DER programs.

“The Federal and SC state tax credits, combined with the utility-specific incentives are making the case to go solar in South Carolina a very compelling one. BlueWave has been active on many levels in helping to drive solar adoption in the state and our solar-specific financing platform is another example of this. As a result, we look forward to helping more households take advantage of the opportunity available in the state right now,” said Charleston-based Managing Director, John Griswold.

— Solar Builder magazine

Military base landfill in Kentucky capped with 1.9 MW solar array from Suniva

A capped landfill at the Fort Campbell military base in Kentucky added 1.9-MW solar array, powered by Suniva, which helped turn 10 acres of retired landfill into a clean energy generating solar farm. Solar arrays atop capped landfills are an innovative way to provide power while leveraging brownfield sites. Here are some tips for approaching such a project.

Suniva“Solar arrays such as this one at Fort Campbell serve as a two-fold solution: enhancing the foundation of the energy security for our nation’s military bases, while at the same time, providing a sustainable benefit on previously unusable waste land,” said Matt Card, executive vice president of commercial operations. “Beyond this application for our military, Suniva’s products are an ideal fit for landfill reclamations such as this. Because of the strict environmental regulations of building on a landfill, the infrastructure costs are typically higher than average. The high power density of our modules helps reduce the overall racking footprint of these systems.”

The project is a result of collaboration between Fort Campbell, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, and Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation. Pennyrile Rural Electric and Fort Campbell worked with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet in securing a grant for $3.1 million for this renewable project, and Pennyrile financed $1.9 million as a part of a Utility Energy Services Contract with Fort Campbell to pay for this project. Suniva worked with power management company Eaton, which provided engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) services as well as a range of electrical balance of system solutions for the first phase of the solar array at Fort Campbell.

“The solar project at Fort Campbell will help address the presidential mandate for federal agencies to meet 20 percent of their electricity needs through renewable energy sources by 2020,” said John Stampfel, vice president and general manager, Electrical Engineering Services and Systems Division, Eaton. “With our expert engineering resources, balance of systems solutions and project collaborators, including Suniva, Eaton is well positioned to help the U.S. Army achieve its net zero energy goal through the development of secure, domestic and renewable energy resources.”

— Solar Builder magazine

What impact will reducing carbon emissions have on Virginia?

virginia carbon emissions plan

The actual moment the Governor signed the order. No joke. (joke)

Va. Governor Terry McAuliffe made a bold move this week, signing an executive order to establish a new process to reduce the state’s carbon emissions.

“A carbon reduction strategy focused on modernizing Virginia’s energy system with advanced energy solutions can boost Virginia’s economy in both the near and long term,” said Matt Stanberry, vice president of market development at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). “Our analyses demonstrate that these technologies can be a win-win for Virginia’s economy and energy system while reducing carbon emissions. Increased investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other advanced energy technologies can meet the Governor’s goals while providing numerous benefits, including improved reliability, cost savings for customers, and creating thousands of jobs.”

Carbon Emissions Plan Analysis

A recent analysis by Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE Institute) showed that investments to reduce carbon emissions, can create thousands of jobs in Virginia while having a minimal impact on ratepayers. The modeling was prepared in the context of meeting targets proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Last year, AEE Institute published a report analyzing various scenarios for Virginia’s CPP compliance. That report, Assessing Virginia’s Energy Future: Employment Impacts of Clean Power Plan Compliance Scenarios, showed that the Commonwealth could create thousands of permanent and temporary jobs by making investments to diversify its power sources with renewable energy, energy efficiency, and natural gas generating plants – and more than double the new jobs if the state pursued a long-sought goal of eliminating electricity imports from out of state. A mix of new temporary construction and permanent jobs would peak at 5,700 under a basic scenario, but reach 12,600 jobs if investments also aimed to keep utility spending in the state – a number nearly equal to employment in Virginia’s commercial construction sector.

Additional modeling released earlier this year showed that implementing the CPP would have minimal impact on electricity costs in Virginia, and could even provide savings for ratepayers under some scenarios, compared with projected energy costs in 2030.

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“Modeling Low Cost Approaches to Clean Power Plan Compliance for Virginia,” published by the AEE Institute, presents the results of two specific scenarios that are representative of multiple runs of the new State Tool for Electricity Emissions Reduction (STEER) model. The demonstrated scenarios are based on varying considerations, but find that, the least expensive way to reach EPA’s prescribed emission targets includes adding a significant amount of energy efficiency and renewables and does not include any additional plant retirements beyond those already announced. The STEER model, an open access tool for regulators and other stakeholders, is available here.

In the two scenarios detailed in the paper, Virginia is able to reach compliance with the Clean Power Plan by 2030 with minimal increases or small savings in electricity prices compared with a business-as-usual projection of electricity costs for that year. The two scenarios hold constant assumptions about natural gas prices (using U.S. Energy Information Administration projections) and do not consider the option of trading emission allowances or credits, although STEER can be used to calculate the effect of such variations. The STEER modeling shows that not only can Virginia easily meet its target, the state could generate additional credits for sale to other states. Both scenarios also assume growing electricity demand in the Commonwealth as projected by PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator.

Under both scenarios, coal and natural gas capacity remain unchanged, meaning there are no additional plant retirements compared to business-as-usual. Despite the assumption of additional load growth in Virginia, there is an overall decrease in generation under both scenarios, due to increases in energy efficiency, with coal and natural gas generation decreasing and renewable generation increasing. Under Scenario A, there is a substantial expansion of renewable capacity, in particular solar energy, while there is very little additional renewable capacity added under Scenario B. The primary difference between the two scenarios is the role played by energy efficiency in least-cost compliance.

Under Scenario A, which uses Dominion Virginia’s recent estimates of energy efficiency potential, least-cost compliance in 2030 would be achieved by substantial amounts of new renewable energy and energy efficiency, with a small amount of switching from coal to natural gas generation. This scenario achieves Clean Power Plan compliance with just a small rate increase ($0.004/kWh, or less than half a penny per kilowatt-hour) over business-as-usual.
Scenario B holds other assumptions constant, but relies on the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s energy efficiency study, which finds even more potential for energy savings. Under Scenario B, there is also no change to the state’s existing fossil-fuel generating capacity beyond business-as-usual. Scenario B finds that efficiency improvements are sufficient for nearly all of Clean Power Plan compliance, with just a small amount of new renewable energy and coal-to-gas switching. Under this scenario, Clean Power Plan compliance actually saves money, with rates in 2030 reduced slightly ($0.002/kWh) compared with business as usual.


— Solar Builder magazine

AET accounts for 145 mph winds in 5-MW installation in Puerto Rico

Applied Energy Technologies (AET) completed a 5 MW solar installation project with Rosendin Construction Puerto Rico, LLC in Juncos, Puerto Rico. The modules installed for the project are Hanwha Q Cells 300W. The project will bring power to a Medtronic Pharmaceuticals facility.

APPLIED ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES (AET) LOGO“It is a privilege to be selected for another project in the Caribbean and South American market,” said Aaron Faust, VP of Business Development for AET. “Our engineering team is earning its reputation for providing thorough analysis so that every component of a project is taken into consideration to ensure quality, while also keeping costs down for the customer.”

For this particular project, AET’s engineering team had to account for 145 miles per hour wind load, a higher than average wind load for solar systems. With AET’s Rayport-G ECO wind tunnel test, they were able to optimize the posts of the system to save on cost, while upholding quality system engineering for the project. The system features a 2-high portrait design optimized for maximum panels and load tilt angle of 10 degrees.

RELATED: Problem Solvers: Solar site issues solved by the right mounting solution 

“AET was a clear choice for this project because of their experience in managing and delivering utility-scale projects,” said Ronald Hopgood, Division Manager of Rosendin. “AET’s system is backed by their expert engineering and wind tunnel analysis, making their system an ideal fit for the unique site conditions of this project.”

AET’s Rayport ECO product portfolio includes both rooftop and ground mount racking solutions made of fully galvanized steel. Customers are able to save money and installation time with AET’s ECO line of lightweight and high quality solar mounting solutions.

— Solar Builder magazine