KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Tennessee Valley Authority and local power distributors are making sure one of the Southeast's most successful renewable energy initiatives will continue to be available for smaller renewable power producers in the future.
The Generation Partners pilot program, which fueled an unprecedented but unsustainable solar industry boom in the region in 2010, is shifting its maximum project size from 200 kilowatts to 50 kilowatts after Sept. 16.
The action focuses Generation Partners' resources primarily toward small-scale, renewable projects and is a key initial step in the long-term plan to provide locally produced renewable generation at the lowest cost possible.
The change does not affect current Generation Partners' incentive levels, which will continue through 2012.
"TVA is proud of what Generation Partners has accomplished," said John Trawick, senior vice president of Commercial Operations and Pricing. "We feel it is our obligation to make absolutely sure that this renewable generation option will continue to be available in the future to the residential and small business generators it was originally designed for."
Generation Partners was launched by TVA and local power distributors as a pilot plan in 2003 with TVA paying premium incentives to spur small-scale renewable generation. It is supported by revenues from renewable power "blocks" sold through TVA's Green Power Switch program.
The region's tremendous solar growth in 2010 caused the pilot to quickly outgrow Green Power Switch. The shift back to the original focus on small-scale installations will restore the balance of supply and demand necessary to allow Generation Partners and Green Power Switch to continue as long-lasting, successful endeavors.
The move comes as costs to produce solar power are dropping and the region's solar industry grows more competitive, self-sufficient and less reliant on subsidies for long-term success.
TVA's action also guarantees incentives to the small-scale projects for which Generation Partners was originally designed. Renewable systems of less than 50 kilowatts make up more than 80 percent of all executed and approved projects as of July 31, but only 11 percent of the pilot's energy capacity.
TVA will work with distributors and other stakeholders to consider gradually phasing in other changes to provide certainty on Generation Partners' parameters and ensure its long-term viability.
TVA and local distributors will honor commitments under existing Generation Partners contracts. They also will continue to evaluate projects greater than 50 kilowatts that are submitted by Sept. 16.
TVA also is exploring ways to increase participation in Green Power Switch and extending its Renewable Standard Offer program to accept projects larger than 50 kilowatts and up to 20 megawatts in size.
"The actions we take today will help ensure a steady, reliable and sustainable source of homegrown, renewable power in the TVA region for tomorrow," Trawick said. "This approach aligns with TVA's renewed vision to be one of the nation's leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020."
TVA had 619 Generation Partners working projects through July, totaling more than 23 megawatts of solar, wind and biomass generation. Another 213 projects, representing another 45 megawatts of power, are approved by TVA and in various stages of construction.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.
SOURCE Tennessee Valley Authority