Frequently Asked Questions
What is Green Power Providers?
Green Power ProvidersSM is a TVA renewable energy initiative that provides technical support and incentives for the installation of renewable generation facilities. Green Power Providers incorporates lessons learned from the Generation Partners pilot program that was initiated in 2003 as a result of requests from users of TVA power for “net metering” standards in the TVA service territory. Best practices from other utility performance-based programs were also incorporated. Green Power Providers is the new long-term program that has replaced the Generation Partners pilot program.
Net metering enables customers to use their own generation to offset their consumption over a billing period by allowing their electric meters to turn backwards when they generate electricity in excess of their demand. This offset means that customers receive retail prices for the excess electricity they generate. Because of TVA’s current contracts with its local power companies, net metering is not an option in the TVA service territory. TVA created Green Power Providers as a “dual metering” option, an alternative to net metering. With the Green Power Providers program, there are two meters; TVA purchases 100 percent of the green energy output and then uses solar, wind, low-impact hydropower and biomass as Green Power Switch resources.
Green Power Switch is an energy option that allows local power companies throughout the Tennessee Valley to provide their customers the choice to buy electricity produced by renewable resources. TVA-owned generation in the Green Power Switch program includes solar, wind and methane gas from a wastewater treatment plant. See more information on Green Power Switch.
What are the benefits of participation in Green Power Providers?
Program participants support the environment by helping keep the Tennessee Valley clean and green. For example, a 3 kilowatt (kW) system’s annual benefits are equal to planting an acre of trees or taking a car off the road for four months.
In addition, solar systems help improve air quality by reducing emissions of fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. Participants also benefit by defraying the costs of their renewable system installation and lowering their monthly energy bills through the revenue they receive from the sale of the green power.
Qualifying your system: Which renewable resources and technologies are eligible for the program?
Projects that generate electricity from technologies using any one of the following sources are eligible: solar, wind, low-impact hydropower and biomass.
Biomass includes all solid, liquid and gaseous forms of these fuels:
- Woody waste
- Agricultural crops or waste
- Animal or other organic waste
- Energy crops
- Landfill gas and wastewater methane
Go to the Renewable Energy Resources page to learn more about each technology.
How do I sign-up for Green Power Providers?
You can become a Green Power Provider by following these steps:
- Contact your local power company to make sure it participates in Green Power Providers.
- Read and understand the Green Power Providers Program Guidelines on the TVA website to ensure the renewable generation system you would like to install qualifies.
- Gather information on what incentives are available and contact industry professionals to get estimates on installing your system.
- Apply with your local power company to become a participant.
- After you receive approval from TVA and the local power company, purchase and install the system. Keep in mind that beginning January 1, 2013, solar photovoltaic and wind installations must be completed by installers who have completed and passed the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) entry-level installer examination.
- Apply for incentives and tax credits. Start generating power and watch your monthly bill go down!
Is there a deadline to get my system installed?
The generating system must be installed and approved by the local power company within 180 Calendar Days of TVA’s approval of the Participation Agreement. This information can be found in section 2.1 of the Participation Agreement. Solar and wind installations approved by TVA in Calendar Year 2013 must be installed by a renewable energy professional that has passed the NABCEP Entry Level Exam at a minimum. NABCEP is an acronym for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (www.nabcep.org). The system must comply with environmental regulations and national standards, be certified by a licensed electrician, and comply with all applicable codes.
What if I can't get my system installed within the six months allowed in the Participation Agreement?
Systems that are not installed and approved by the local power company within 180 Calendar Days of TVA approval will have to reapply in line with other applications, subject to the terms and conditions of the program at the time TVA provides final approval on the agreement.
Where can customers buy renewable systems? Is there a list of qualified vendors?
TVA does not recommend or require specific contractors and installers. However, it does recommend researching contractors to ensure quality work. Note that starting in calendar year 2013, any system approved for the program must be installed by either a NABCEP entry level or Level 1 certified installer. System sizing tips, cost estimations, supplier/installer information, and related information can be researched at the following websites:
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
NABCEP is a volunteer board working to develop national voluntary standards and certifications for renewable energy professionals, beginning with solar electric installers.
American Solar Energy Society
Consumer Energy Council of America, Distributed Energy Forum
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solar Technology Division
Florida Solar Energy Center (Click on Research)
Tennessee Solar Energy Association
National Association of State Energy Officials
North Carolina Solar Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Solar Electric Power Association
Low Impact Hydropower Institute
Solar Energy Industries Association
Note: The listings provided here are for informational purposes only. The listing of any group or organization is not to be considered as an endorsement by TVA. TVA assumes no responsibility for actions taken by the mentioned groups or organizations.
Be sure to call your local power company before purchasing and installing a renewable generation source.
Do all power companies participate in the Green Power Providers program?
Participation in the program is entirely at the discretion of the power company. Go to Participating Power Companies for more information. If your local power company isn’t currently a participant in the program, let them know you are interested in installing renewable generation at your home or business.
What are the specific connection requirements?
Customers must submit an interconnection application to their local power company. The local power company will determine whether the project can be fast-tracked or if the project must undergo a feasibility study to determine the impact on the distribution system. Local power companies may alter the proposed interconnection procedures and agreement drafted by TVA to suit their local guidelines or processes. Program participation and interconnection approval is subject to local power company approval. Contact your power company for more information.
In the event of a power outage, will I be able to supply power to my home?
In order to be a participant in Green Power Providers, the system must be connected to and generate power to the grid. Each installation must have a grid-tied inverter that synchronizes the power generated with the utility grid, and also prevents electricity from flowing to the grid during an outage. When an inverter continues to electrify the grid during an outage, that is called islanding. For the safety of line workers, inverters must stop sending generation to the grid when there is a grid failure. This is a serious concern for utilities because they do not want any utility lines to be energized while they are trying to fix the cause of the power outage.
It is recommended in the interconnection and parallel operation agreement (the supporting documentation for the participation agreement) that the participant be required to install a manual, lockable, visible load break disconnect switch between the generation facility and the distribution system. The participant must also ensure that the manual disconnect is readily accessible to the power company.
Due to these safety concerns, Green Power Providers participants will not be able to supply power to their homes during an outage and should discuss other outage options with their local power company.
How safe are these systems?
All interconnection and safety equipment must be tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory for continuous interactive operation with an electric distribution system in compliance with:
- IEEE 1547 (Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems)
- IEEE 1547.1 (Standard Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems)
- UL 1741 (Inverters, Converters, and Controllers for use in Independent Power Systems).
In addition, all systems must be manufactured and installed in compliance with the National Electric Code. Systems must be permitted and certified by a licensed electrician in addition to passing all applicable code inspections.
Having your system meet these national standards means that your system is very safe. In addition to these national standards, Green Power Providers requires an outside lockable disconnect device that provides additional security and peace of mind in the event of a power outage. The lockable disconnect device must be accessible by personnel from the local power company, who have the ability and authority to lock out the power from the grid via the disconnect device. For more information about safety, see the following sites:
- National Fire Protection Association
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- Solar Electric Power Association
Is the generation credit on my electric bill considered income and therefore reportable on my taxes?
Please consult your tax professional for any tax question you may have.
How much will the generation system cost?
For a standard size solar system of 1.5 kW to 2 kW, a customer can expect to pay on average of $5 to $6 per watt for parts and installation. A typical-size wind turbine system averages $2 to $4 per watt for equipment, plus the cost of installation. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration when pricing either solar or wind systems, such as federal and state tax credits and rebates.
For example, a 2 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) installation averages 200 kWh per month, or roughly $44 per month generation credit, if the system is approved in 2012 under the current 12 cent premium:
200 kWh x $0.22/kWh (average retail rate of $0.09 + solar premium of $0.12) = $42
In comparison, a 10 kW solar PV installation would average generation credit of $210 per month.
Are there ways to help pay for installations?
- Federal tax credits (these are subtracted from the total tax liability, in contrast to a tax deduction)
- Solar – 30 percent residential and commercial tax credit with no cap through December 31, 2016
- Wind – Maximum system size of 100 kW, 30 percent tax credit. For systems placed in service in 2008, the maximum credit is $500 per half-kilowatt, not to exceed $4,000. There is no limit to the amount that can be claimed for systems placed in use after 2008 because the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 removed a previous cap.
- State tax credits – vary by state
- Property tax credits – vary by state
- Additional information regarding federal and state incentives is available at the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) website.
- $1,000 TVA incentive
- Financing for solar installations may be available.