DSS Frequently Asked Questions

Have you got questions? We’ve got answers. Here’s a guide to need-to-know information about the Distributed Solar Solutions program.

How can I get in contact to discuss the Distributed Solar Solutions (DSS) program offering?

In one of the following three ways:

  1. By phone at (423) 751-2372; leave a message
  2. By mail at Tennessee Valley Authority, Distributed Solar Solutions, 26 Century Boulevard, Mail Stop OCP 7B, Nashville, TN 37214
  3. By email at renewables@tva.gov

How much capacity will be offered for the 2017 DSS Pilot Program?

There will be a total of 10 MWs available in the 2017 DSS capacity offering. Eligible project system sizes must be > 50 kW and ≤ 2 MWs.

Who is eligible for the 2017 DSS pilot program?

The capacity will be applied for by and awarded through your local power company (LPC). The LPC may elect to retain any awarded capacity or transfer it to a developer/partner.

When will the 2017 DSS pilot program begin accepting applications?

The initial application period is March 1 through 15, 2017. After applications have been received, the review and selection phase will take approximately 3 weeks, depending on the number submitted applications received. Applications will continue to be accepted until December 15, 2017, so long as there is remaining capacity available.

What are some of the seller’s obligations related to participation in the DSS Pilot Program?

Seller must undertake the necessary investment to construct a renewable generating facility. These costs and obligations can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Arranging and applying for interconnection to the grid
  • Interconnection and metering costs
  • Attaining any necessary local, state or federal permits
  • Complying with all other laws and regulations
  • Responsibility for the ongoing costs of operation and maintenance of the project
  • Complying with laws and regulations governing distribution and transmission systems
  • Adhering to environmental regulations
  • Observing the provisions of the DSS Contract and DSS Guidelines

What are the project eligibility requirements for DSS?

The main eligibility requirements for a DSS project are as follows. Each project must:

  • Constitute a renewable generating facility that did not contract to sell renewable energy to TVA prior to January 1, 2017
  • Consist of solar photovoltaic monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels or thin film cells using fixed or single/dual axis tracking systems—which can be ground or structure mounted—or other TVA-approved technology
  • Be located in the TVA’s power service area
  • Be interconnected to TVA’s or a LPC’s system
  • Use local North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified installers in the Tennessee Valley region

Do the projects need to meet any specific criteria?

Yes, the DSS pilot program criteria is meant to ensure that projects help create better relationships and knowledge sharing between developers and LPCs. Applications should include one or more of the following features:

  • Innovative financing structures that minimize total system costs and possess unique financing structures
  • Encourages customer focus and engagement, and also provides multiple ways for customers to participate
  • Targeted deployment; solar projects intentionally located for expanding the technical knowledge benefits of the participating LPC
  • Solar projects equipped with Distributed Energy Resource (DER) technology that enhances the network

What does it take to apply for the DSS Pilot Program?

Local power companies served by TVA are the only eligible applicants who can apply for DSS capacity. As applicants, LPCs will need to submit the following:

  • DSS Application
  • A non-refundable certified check, bank draft or money order payable to Tennessee Valley Authority for $1,000 plus $1.00 per kW of the gross nameplate capacity of the project
  • Proof of land rights
  • Discussions and plans to apply for and independently arrange an Interconnection Agreement with an LPC or TVA (as applicable)
  • Valid email address
  • A written narrative explaining how applicant plans to meet the criteria specified in the application

What other programmatic fees will be associated with each project?

Several payments are due to TVA at various stages of the DSS Application and DSS Contract phases, including an application fee and performance assurance fees. These payments do not cover interconnection costs or fees related to environmental reviews. The application fee is $1,000 plus $1 per kW DC of the gross nameplate capacity of the project. This application fee is non-refundable. Project transfer fees may also be applicable.

How does performance assurance work?

Depending on the creditworthiness of the seller, the seller may be required to pay performance assurance at different milestones throughout the process. During DSS Contract execution, Seller must pay $15 per kW. At the Notice to Proceed stage, the Seller must pay an additional $10 per kW. Upon the Initial Delivery Date, the Seller must pay an additional $100 per kW. After that, during years 3-4 of generation, $25 per kW will be returned to the Seller. During years 5-20 of generation, $25 more per kW will be returned to the Seller.

How much will TVA pay for the generation produced from my project?

The DSS Contract uses a seasonal and time-of-day base price. For CY2017, accepted projects on average will be paid a base price of 3.148¢ per kWh. That base price will escalate 3% annually, beginning on January 1st of the calendar year following the Initial Delivery Date (IDD). On top of that base price, there is an un-escalated 2.73¢ per kWh paid throughout the term.

What is an Initial Delivery Date (IDD)?       

Initial Delivery Date, or IDD, means the date and time that TVA has officially given written approval that all conditions have been met by the seller, that there are no outstanding issues related to the project and that the project can officially begin generating and delivering energy to TVA for payment. Please see the DSS Contract and  DSS Guidelines for more details regarding the conditions, issues, and specific process steps and circumstances that must be met.

What is a NEPA review, and will I be subject to completing one?         

NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act that requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. All DSS projects will be subject to completing a NEPA review following contract execution. This process typically takes six months or more, and the applicant is responsible for all costs associated with conducting the environmental review.

Who will receive the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and all other environmental attributes?

Seller must assign all rights, title and interest in the RECs and all other environmental attributes to TVA. If the project is a qualifying community solar project, any associated RECs can be retained by the seller.

What does Notice to Proceed (NTP) mean?                 

Notice to Proceed occurs when TVA has provided official written approval for the Seller to purchase materials and begin construction of the project at the site. This NTP approval means that the Seller has successfully demonstrated compliance with the criteria required to achieve this DSS process milestone to begin the construction phase of its project. Please see the DSS Contract and DSS Guidelines for more details regarding the NTP conditions, issues and specific process steps and circumstances that must be met.

Generally, how long does it take to complete a project and begin generation?

From contract to generation, this process can take a little over two years. The application phase up to the contracting phase takes about six months. From the contracting phase to Notice to Proceed (NTP) phase takes about one year, and NTP to Initial Delivery Date (IDD) takes a final year.