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2019 Policy Grade


Avg. Yearly Savings


Congratulations! You've found the ultimate guide to going solar in Tennessee

2019 Policy Grade


Avg. Savings/year


Your 2019 guide to getting solar panels for your home in Tennessee

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Tennessee home. Since there's a lot to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

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** What's new for 2019 **

Tennessee has some truly spectacular environments; from the Great Smoky Mountains to Cherokee National Forest and the high points of the Appalachian Trail, we have some special places to protect. You may already know that switching to solar power can help safeguard those places by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The real question is, how good of a job is the state legislature and utilities doing to help make that switch to solar easy for you?

In Tennessee that answer is split like night and day. Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) provides electricity for virtually the entire state. Your local electric distributor buys electricity from TVA, distributes the electricity to your home, and connects solar systems to their electric grid. TVA is doing a pretty sweet job encouraging solar power with a strong performance payment program. The legislature, on the other hand, has given us less reason to cheer. The lack of a Renewable Portfolio Standard or state rebates to help offset the initial costs of solar power installation, in particular, present obvious areas for improvement. Let’s take a look at the details.

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Tennessee solar incentives you see below.

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Tennessee, so you can decide which is best for you. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we provide detailed analysis of how each works.

The Policy Information section contains all our latest research on the rules set by lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission, which determine how easy it is to go solar in Tennessee. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to interconnection, and have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions for going solar in Tennessee.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Your Solar Strategy in Tennessee

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Tennessee can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

How should you pay for solar?

Use our decision tool to find out!

How to pay for solar panels in Tennessee

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar in Tennessee. We look at two system sizes: 5-kW and 2-kW, and outline what happens whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan. Let's be honest here: none of thes options is great. Tennessee does very little to help people who want to go solar, and it shows in the numbers.

As you can see, the cash purchase option provides a big return, but it doesn't happen until many years in the future. The solar loan, on the other hand, earns you a return right off the bat, in the form of a federal tax credit for 30% of the amount of the loan. Ove time, you'll dip into negative territory, but if you want solar, a loan can be an excellent way to pay for it.

Finally, the blue bars represent a solar loan, but for a smaller system. If you only want a little solar and you can pay for it over time, it can be a good way to help the environment while almost breaking even, at least arithmetically.

If you're interested in masochism, read more below about each of the three options for solar in Tennessee.

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Option 1: Paying cash for solar

Paying up front used to be the only way to get panels on your roof, and it's still the option that allows you the most control. But it isn't the best option from a percentage return on investment standpoint—that award goes to the solar loan.

Still, an outright purchase returns the most money over time, because you own the system from day one and reap all the benefits—the Federal solar tax credit of 30% of system costs and your full annual energy savings.

In our example, you put down $20,000, but by the end of year 1, that tax credit and the energy savings will erase a bunch of it. Over 25 years, your system will have produced over $8,000 in income. But that's still not enough to make a solar purchase worthwhile. It takes 18 years just for the dang thing to pay its simple costs back, and as you can see from the NPV number, you're better off financially with an investment in stocks.

Here’s an example of how the numbers work for a purchase of a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Tennessee:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $20,000.
  • The Feds calculate their incentive based on out-of-pocket costs, so you'll get $6,000 (30% of the cost) back next April as a tax credit. Note: you can take the credit over as many years as you need years if you don't owe $6,000 in Federal taxes this year.
  • Then there's your first-year energy savings. That's another $624, and it brings the cost after 1 year to just $13,376.
  • With all the energy bill savings rolling in, your system will pay itself back after 18 years. Once that happens, you’ll be seeing over $1,000 per year in savings until the end of your system’s life.
  • When all is said and done, our 25-year estimate shows a total net profit of $8,092 with an internal rate of return of 3.7%. That's about half as good as an investment in stocks.
  • On top of those returns, your home's value just increased by $8,900, too (your expected electricity savings over 20 years)!
  • And speaking of doing good for the environment... your system will create some green for the earth by not using electricity from fossil-fuels. In fact, the energy you’re not using has the carbon equivalent of planting 104 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Tennessee. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 2: Using a loan to pay for solar

This is usually where we tell you that taking a loan for solar panels is a no-brainer, because it means investing in an income-generating asset. It's usually true! Unfortunately, Tennessee is not one of the places where it's true.

Here's the important stuff:

As you can see from the chart above, you'll start out after year one with a big windfall, because with a loan, you're not putting any money down, and you get the rebate and federal tax credit just like if you paid $20,000 up front for your system. You'll come out ahead nearly $5,000 after the first year! In the 14 years that follow, your loan payments will actually cost a little more than the money you'll be saving in electricity, but just think of it like a monthly deposit into a savings account.

The rest of our estimate might look like a see-saw, because you start out with a windfall, drop down into "big investment" territory, and then jump up again after the loan is paid off. That's when the solar "savings account" will pay dividends. You'll be saving tons of money every year because you'll own the system outright. But at the end of our 25-year example, you'll be $1,463 to the good, which isn't enough to make up for the earlier costs of the payments.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can get a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $20,000 with a fixed rate of 4.5% or lower and a 15-year repayment period.
  • You have an appetite for making a little money with a long-term investment, while also producing benefits for the environment.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a Tennessee solar purchase with a HELOC:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $20,000. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity bill savings in the first year of operation will total $624, but your loan payments will be $1,775, for a difference of $1,151, or about $96 per month.
  • But here comes the tax credit! Because you've technically "paid" for the system with your loan, you'll get the Federal tax credit of 30% of system costs, or $6,000! Even after you make those loan payments, you'll end up with an extra $4,849 at the end of the first year.
  • When your loan’s paid off in year 15, you’ll see about $1,000 per year in savings until the end of your system’s life.
  • For our 25-year estimate, you'll see a small return of $1,463 after all the payments.
  • Finally, the environmental benefits cannot be overstated. Operating your system will take as much carbon out of the air as planting 104 trees every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Tennessee. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 3: Buying the electricity, not the panels with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

Tennessee does not offer solar Power Purchase Agreements or leases. Perhaps it would be a good idea to contact a solar advocacy organization and ask them to fight for solar in your state!

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Tennessee Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Tennessee:



Grade: F

Tennessee's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) is a statute or other piece of regulation that mandates that a portion of at state’s electricity is produced from renewable resources (like solar power) by a certain date. If you have been following renewable energy policy at all, you already know that a whole lot of states have passed strong a strong RPS. Many of the RPS’s mandate goals as high as 30%, even 40% renewable production in the next 10-15 years.

So what’s going on in Tennessee? Well, not much. Nothing in fact. Tennessee has absolutely no renewables portfolio, no targets – nothing. Tennessee needs to get on track; Colorado, California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and many other states that have already passed strong RPS’s to ensure a bright future for solar power and other renewable energy. Trust us, a strong RPS is integral to having that bright future here. No one wants to give you free money – least of all the electric companies. Without a strong RPS pushing them, politicians and CEOs have no incentive to give you incentives. Incentives for more solar power, that is!

What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.

An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner. Read more about Renewable Portfolio Standards.

RPS solar carve out


Grade: F

Tennessee's Solar Carve-out grade

No RPS means no solar carve out.

What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.

Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.

For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!

Tennessee Electricity Prices


Grade: D

Tennessee's Electricity cost grade

Electricity costs about 11 cents/kWh here. Here at Solar Power Rocks, we kind of geek out on anything that affects solar power, including electric prices, so trust us when we tell you that 10.96 cents/kWh is super cheap. In the bottom tier of the county, in fact, and well below the national average of 13.14 cents/kWh. You should also trust us when we tell you that cheap electricity is a bad thing.

All that cheap electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels -- tons and tons of earth-killing fossil fuels. When the astronomical environmental costs start to mount, monthly electricity bills are inevitably going to rise as well. When that happens you’re going to feel pretty darn smart for making the early switch to producing your own clean, efficient solar power.

Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.

The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.

Tennessee Net Metering

TVA Only

Grade: C

Tennessee's Net Metering grade

Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.

Sadly, Tennessee lacks any statewide program for net metering, and there hasn’t been so much of a peep out of the legislature. Fortunately, with the entire state in its service area, TVA is able to come to the rescue again. Remember the Generation Partners program we talked about above? Remember the part where if you run a surplus and your credit exceeds your bill, you get a check for the extra money? Well, that basically amounts to a net metering program, and a darned good one in fact.

Although the TVA program basically amounts to a net metering program, it has some restrictions. Every year TVA sets a capacity limit on the amount of systems that can be installed in the region. A capacity limit means that not everyone who wants to install a solar system will be able to install one. Although TVA came to the rescue with a solar program, they will only rescue so much per year!

What is net metering? Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.

The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.

Tennessee Interconnection Rules


Grade: F

Tennessee's Interconnection Standards grade

Interconnection standards govern the procedures and fees that utilities may implement for getting you and your net-metered system connected to the grid.

Like the lack of net metering policy above, Tennessee also hasn't issued any clear policy for easily connecting to the grid. Both net metering and interconnection are critical parts of strong renewable energy policy. They help you get the absolute most out of your solar power production. A solid net metering plan, with interconnection standards that make it simple to get on the grid can help you zero out your entire electric bill, and even turn a profit where net metering regulations provide for cash payments. Legislators have a bit of work to do here.

Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.

Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.

Solar Incentives in Tennessee

Next to high electricity prices and net metering, solar incentives have traditionally been the most important factor for whether home solar power makes financial sense in a state. In the past, some states with otherwise lousy policy had tremendous incentives that drove down the up-front cost of going solar so much that homeowners could save oodles of money even without net metering or a good RPS.

These days, the big incentive most people can get is the Federal Solar Tax Credit that earns you 30% of your costs back after just 1 year. State incentives play less of a role than in the past, but some really good ones are still out there, ready to help homeowners go solar and save money before you know it.

Let's see how Tennessee measures up:

Tennessee Solar Power Rebates


Grade: F

Tennessee's Solar Rebates grade

Tennessee currently lacks any sort of statewide solar rebate program. If the RPS set mandatory levels of renewable energy production, we can guarantee more utility companies would offer incentives to help you make the switch to solar. How do we know? It’s worked everywhere that a real RPS has been implemented. Get on it, Tennessee!

How do solar rebates work? Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.

The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.

Tennessee Solar Power Tax Credits


Grade: None

Tennessee's Solar Tax Credits grade

Many states like to offer state tax credits as a way to promote the local solar industry. It’s true, Tennessee does not offer any state tax credits, but in a state that has no state income tax, tax credits wouldn't be much of a help anyways.

About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.

(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)

The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.

Solar Power Performance Payments


Grade: F

Tennessee's Solar Performance Payments grade

As you've surely guessed from the lack of an RPS, Tennessee lacks any legislation-based (i.e. truly statewide) performance payment program. At least TVA will help you sign up to sell your solar power back to them.

Explanation of performance payments: Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!

Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.

Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.

We've got a great article if you like to read more about what SRECs are and how to earn them.

Property Tax Exemption

2/3 of Assessed Value

Grade: C

Tennessee's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

What Tennessee doesn't have, sadly, is a property tax exemption for solar power systems. When you install a solar power system your monthly electric bill goes down. When your bill goes down, your property value goes up by about 20 times your expected annual savings. The majority of states now have property tax exemptions for renewable energy systems like your spiffy new solar power system. If the legislature doesn't want to get off its butt to provide a thorough statewide renewable energy policy, the least they could do is at least remove hindrances like this.

About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Some argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing). Other studies seem to indicate a home price premium about equal to the cost of installing the system, minus any incentives like the federal solar tax credit.

For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean adding $20,000 to your home value. And if you don't believe us, believe the bean counters: Many banks and solar financing companies now offer traditional style equity-based home loans for installing solar. An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!

The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Grades in this category are basically all-or-nothing. Either you got it or you don't. Thankfully, many states have "got it.".

Sales Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Tennessee's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

If there aren't any tax credits, is Tennessee at least helping with a full tax exemption somewhere? You bet! When you install a solar power system here, the cost of that system is exempt from all sales tax. That saves you 6.25-8.25 % off the starting cost! You can choose to apply for the exemption up front (again, our installer partners will take care of all of this for you!) or to take the amount after the system is installed as a sales tax rebate. Hey! Tennessee does have a state tax credit … sorta. It’s not money back per se, but money not spent is still money saved!

What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).

The consensus on Tennessee solar power rebates and incentives

Tennessee has something of a split-identity going on with solar power policy. The legislature has been so silent on the issue, one wonders if they’ve ever even heard the word “photovoltaic.” But where the legislature has failed, the statewide utility company has shone (at least kinda) bright. Before the TVA program, Tennessee was a solar no-man’s land, with payback timeframes pushing decades beyond the expected life of your system. Now, however, TVA’s Generation Partners program has pushed payback down to 12 years. That’s not what we call stellar around here, but it’s more than enough for your solar power system to pay for itself, and then some. But without some strong goals to ensure that the solar scene remains steady, it doesn’t merit any more than a “D” grade.

93 thoughts on “2019 Tennessee Home Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits

  1. Johnny O says:

    How is that the TVA requires only certified NABCEP installers are allowed to install your system. One of the reasons I want to instal a PV array is to save money, the main reason; but, it seems to me like the whole approach is rigged to set up the installers for all the monetary gains. They can set the price and really take away from your (my) savings. If I buy a 10kw system and pay 12k for it, I can install it for nothing (other than the Electrician I have to pay to tie in) but the way I understand it is that I cannot do that. Is this true, can I not buy and install the sytem myself and tie into the grid or do I have to have the NABCEP certified person over it all? I would like to know the most cost effective way to do this. If I can buy my own system then I can save quite a bit. I prefer to instal it but am not sure if I can get in on the GPP if I do. Please advise me…

  2. Rick says:

    Grade F for the lowest rates? You lost me immediately when I read that. You want us to pay 3x for electricity so you can sell your garbage? More Marxist BS here.

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Hey Rick-

      Thanks for writing. It’s true, the state receives an F for its electricity rates, specifically as it regards the potential for financial benefit from solar. That means solar panels make less financial sense here than other places, because they take longer to pay their cost back. The desire to use the tools at your disposal to your economic advantage is as capitalist as it gets, my friend. If you want to talk about “Marxism,” you should know that the energy in Tennessee is so cheap primarily because of huge federal investments in infrastructure over a period of many decades.

      Usually when we look at why energy rates are low, we see a lot of power plants that burn fossil fuels, which have their own true costs shifted onto the people who live in the place where the power plants operate. Sure, buying coal-fired energy can be cheap up-front, but the long-term costs pile up as increases in environmental damage and healthcare expenses. Tennessee is a bit of a different story, with most electricity supplied by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which gets 37% of its energy from nuclear power, with an additional 12% from hydro and wind/solar.

      The TVA was set up through federal funds, and, though it has long since paid back that initial investment, continues to provide electricity at below-average rates through its mix of legacy nuclear and smart management of the area’s natural resources. Other states in the country don’t have such abundant natural resources or 3 nuclear plants. They must therefore import energy, at a high cost. This makes electricity prices high and therefore makes solar a better deal for homeowners.

      Those states get better grades for electricity prices in our ranking, because it makes solar a better deal there.

  3. Michelle Smith says:

    Hello! I came upon your article and I wanted to ask which utility/company in Knoxville buys back solar energy? Thank you!

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Hi there!

      KUB allows you to connect your home solar system and sell electricity back to the grid under TVA’s Green Power Providers program. More information here:

      Thanks, and have a sunny day!

  4. andy says:

    While the State of Tennesse doesn’t have interconnect rules, TVA that supplies power to most of the State sure does. You’ll have to sign a contract with them, and agree to whatever hoops they require to install a PV solar system….or you won’t be interconnecting.

  5. Rick says:

    Hi, I can’t read the rest of your article because the free download window pops out and covers half of your content on my screen. And I’ve already gone through the process and downloaded the .pdf. Please fix it. Thanks,

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Hey, Rick– there should be an “X” icon in the upper right corner that allows you to close the slide-in for the Ultimate Guide to solar. If you can’t see the X, it might be because of a pop-up blocker, ironically. Hope that helps.


  6. Stephen says:

    TVA in Tennessee has eliminated the $1000 solar rebate and has eliminated all performance payments in 2016.

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Yep, that’s sadly true. The TVA program worked very well, and Tennessee has much more solar adoption than all the other states in the southeast. Here’s hoping they come up with another program soon!

  7. tawana wilson says:

    how do we get solar n our town

  8. Anonymous says:

    My self installed 4.6KW system went online January 2012, produces more KW than we use, so no electric bills, and TVA sends me about $800 annually.

    1. Patrick Kilhoffer says:

      Sweet! I’m very happy it worked out so well for you! In general, people are better off having a certified contractor handle the installation, but clearly you had the skills to pull it off. Congratulations!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well I own a 3k solar panels. Just this month April I recieved a letter that my solar panel metter is now going to be charged $15 a month and that they are charging some meters in other counties higher amounts. So tell me, where are the real savings. The electric company person told me that the reason we are being charged is because the solar panels benefit the homeowner, not the power company. Really….I thought it was for the power company to get green power. Just shows that green power is not worth it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The math isn’t quite right on these numbers. A 5kw should easily cost around $4/watt these days, if it’s roof mounted. Also, with the premium payment plus retail, you’re getting paid around $0.14/kwh. So, even with a conservative estimate of your power generation, a 5kw should generate about $75 in credits each month, not $49 as stated. In 2013, a 5kw was worth about $100 per month, so it’s unfortunate that the premium has dropped so much. Also, it’s a little disingenuous to say that TN isn’t offering a State Tax Credit. We don’t pay any income tax at all, so there’s nothing to credit other than the sales and property taxes, which TN does offer breaks or exemptions on. The TVA GPP program is far from perfect (especially since they’ve throttled the number of MW allowed), but you’re site isn’t giving the best description of the state of solar in TN.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m in Hampshire TN. Where did you get your panels and do I need a certified electrician to install?

  12. Anonymous says:

    The TVA program is now $0.04 cents/kWh, not $0.12 cents.

    1. Dan Hahn says:

      Have you got a link for this change? We don’t see this program moving to $.04 anywhere.

  13. andy says:

    June, 2013

    Added 10 more 255w panels to our system, using the Enphase inverters. We’re up to 11kw now, and that should do us.

  14. Patricia Clements says:

    I am very interested in finding a Solar leasing company such as Sungevity or Sun City for our residence in Goodlettsville, TN. Are there any solar leasing companies that service Tennessee?

    1. Jason says:

      We will be doing this soon. Stay tuned and drop off some info so that we can reach out!

      1. Jason says:

        Yeah I am interested in solar leasing as well…

  15. Andy says:

    2014 Solar Savings Outlook: Added our 4th array, a ground based, fixed mount of 10 x 255w panels that are grid tied only using Enphase micro inverters. BOY, was that install a breeze compared to my previous arrays ! And it will be so easy to add on to..( and I will ).. It went online the first week of December. The 255w panels were down to $350/ea compared to paying over 600 in 2011 for 245w panels ! I ended up with about $6,000 total in this 4th array…..panels, inverters, wiring, internet hub,( which was $500…..but you only need one no matter how many more panels I add ), ground mounting.

    System total now right at 8kw.

    Enphase inverters are really cool, in that they have a near real time reporting, and you can view my public side website to see what that 4th array ( the one in the foreground of the page photo ) is producing today, or over the last month, or lifetime.

    Didn’t do 400 this year, but our end of the year check ( in addition to no bills ) was for $329.98 Shooting for 500-600 next year !

    Energy production:

    2009 —- 2924 kw/hrs
    2010—–3530 kw/hrs
    2011—–4724 kw/hrs
    2012—–7333 kw/hrs
    2013—–9,000 ??

  16. Michael Schocket says:

    Linda, for such a small amount of power you might look into the portable solar panel chargers/backups that are widely available. They are all-in-one setups that convert solar energy into electricity, with plugs/attachments. I’ve seen some that are pretty inexpensive that seem like they could certainly run a lamp and a small fan.

  17. Linda Doyle says:

    Hello, I live in a very rural area. There is an old man living in the woods not far from me. I want to help him (if I can afford it). He refuses to rely on public electric. He lives in a VERY old wood cabin. As I’ve gotten to know him- he is a wonderful person, always willing to help others. I want to do something for him. We don’t have much wind here, so I doubt a windmill would work.- maybe a small solar panel? All he needs is to produce enough electricity to run a small fan and 2 lights/lamps to read by. He gets his water from a local spring fed river about a mile away. He is 78 yers old. I know nothing about any of this, so I’m hoping you can help. What can I do to help him get a small amount of electricity in his cabin. I’m worried about him in the heat. Now he has a cord running from a truck battery into the cabin to let him read about 30 minutes at night. He has no A/C.I don’t have a lot of money, what can I do to help? thank You,

  18. Forrest says:

    What should I be paying for a 3.78 KW sunpower 210 system in TN installed.

  19. Lucy Charles says:

    There are companies in New York State now offering free installation for a system of roof panels, free maintenance, in addition to a $750 gift card incentive. If it is profitable in NY state, surely it is profitable in Tennessee where there are more days of sunshine. Where are the TN businesses taking advantage of the opportunities?? Get cracking!!

  20. andy says:

    2011 Update:

    Late fall of 2011, I finally got my third array in place…..10-245w Solarworld panels on a homebuilt dual axis tracking mount. And added a pair of 175w panels to even up the previous two arrays at 10 panels each. Total system panel rating is now 5.95kw.

    The new panels were enough to boost our October production to a new record ( for us ) of 658kw/hrs !

    We actually ended the year with a credit of $101, and got a check from the Johnson City Power Bd.

    Total spent on power last year ( including the year end check ) was $49, and with this fall’s addition, I anticipate no more power bills this year, and a check for about $400 or so end of 2012.

  21. andy says:


    Get ready for disappointment, I’m afraid….a 2.88kw system will NOT provide a $140 worth of power per month.

    You’re looking at maybe 350-400kw/hrs/month in your BEST months….maybe 50 bucks.

    Sorry, that the real truth.

  22. andy says:


    Not sure where you’re getting $2,000 on a $55,000 solar system, which by the way, is AWFUL high for a 6 kw system….the typical grid tie system is running in the $5/w range, installed, if you shop around…..meaning a 6kw system should run about $30,000, not 55,….BUT even assuming you spend 55,00, the federal tax credit is 30%, which would be:


    and TVA kicks in a flat $1,000 on top of that when you connect.

  23. andy says:


    On building your own:

    1. Panels have gotten down to the price point you simply can’t build your own and compete. No way.

    2. Even IF the above is wrong, you can’t legally connect non UL approved panels to the grid…meaning homebuilt panels don’t qualify.

  24. Jay says:

    So I just got my quote form ECE in Memphis and $18K for a turn key 2.88KW system. TVA GPP program gives a $1K bonus and $12 cents over base (which has risen to nearly $0.10). Then the US government gives your 30% (,,id=211307,00.html) without the same restrictions as say the Leaf tax deduction. In this case I’m looking at %5417 + the $1K signup bonus + $140 deduction per summer month (guesstimating $80-90 in winter). Based on this, I calculated an 8.8yr breakeven.

    The are the SunPower E19 couples to Enphase M215’s and both show a 25yr life. SunPowerhas a E20 panel that is commercial only.

  25. JPWhite says:

    I find it puzzling that I can get $7,500 from the federal govt and $2,500 from Tennessee for buying my LEAF. That’s $10,000 incentive on a $33,000 car.

    Compare that to a $55,000 6KwH solar system and you get $2,000 in incentives.

    OK So I’ve got the car; so now make it possible for me to power my house and car off the grid for a reasonable cost.

    Instead of giving bankers trillions to save their sorry hides, how about a few billion for solar energy?


  26. Lucas says:

    Well said Joe!! I think it’s also worth saying that you can build your OWN solar panels, which reduces the cost SUBSTANTIALLY. It is time consuming to do the research, and it’s not very easy, but it makes the switch to solar financially feasible. But we are quite a lazy society. I’m working on my first panel now, and provided that it works, I plan to make more, eventually cutting ties with the power company. Seems like the best way to go.

  27. Joe says:

    I have been to 42 out of 50 American states during my travels and I have met people that were raised in every state. Alot of you all are not looking at the bigger picture I think. Tennessee is one of the cheapest states to live as far as taxes go and thank GOD there is no state income tax.

    North Carolina for example I pay more in property taxes than my sister which owns more land and a slightly larger home than mine. I pay state income tax, our sales tax is slightly cheaper than in TN but North Carolina charges you a yearly tax on the value of the car you own. Pray to GOD you don’t own what they call a “classic car”. (((One the the guys I work with had to sell the car he bought when he moved to NC because they called it a “classic”. They were going to charge him $15,000 a year the car he paid $10,000 JUST to own it))).

    TO THE POINT: Everyone as a whole should pressure the government to pressure electric companies in transferring to clean energy for the enviroment, for our children and for national security.

    WHY: The government will ALWAYS keep their hands in our pockets because other countries and Americans will keep their hands out asking for freebies. So regardless if you do go off grid to try and save money the goverment will ALWAYS take more than you can afford to support those request. EVERYONE should focus more on demanding HOW our government spends OUR money instead of asking to get a tax break. “Tax break being temporary relief”.

    Some of you still won’t understand the “WHY” so I will explain another way. People are lazy. Look at how many obese people you see in America, people ARE lazy. How many of those people do you think are going to maintenance an emissions free power system? 10%..20%. Do you honestly think they will spend the time learning to maintenance the equipment when the only thing they can think about is ways to get out of working? (Co-worker of my Dad’s is 367 pounds. He goes to the Doctor and finds he is eligible for disability. Put simply if he would lose weight he would not have these health problems. But instead he has found a way to stop working and he tells my Dad he is going to collect his check from the government. Paid by me and you.)

    So if we demand our tax money be spent wisely, demand our electric companies go 100% emissions free it will benefit every American, every Americans’ children and speed up the process for saving the enviroment.

    How is this going to make you money? You can bank on it that if we forced our government to do the right thing everyone would save money in taxes without having to spend a dime.

    America sends Pakistan $3 trillion in aid. (A study was done, 90% of Pakistan is against Americans meaning they hate us yet they are glad to take our money.) America sends China money for aid (We owe them money!!! Why are we giving them free money?) TARP money was given to banks as a bailout (Senior CEOs earn 1 million in bonus pay and they purchase new jets with the money OUR government sent them). Black American farmers were given $50,000 a peice for discrimination by our government. (I say good they deserve their hard earned money lost. The problem is in the settlement it says if you “attempted to farm” you were entitled to $50,000. $2 billion was started to reimburse them and because so many “attempted to farm” NOT farmers the government had to dish out more of our tax dollars.) Clothes are sent to Iraqis to help them during time of war. (The Iraqis cut those clothes up, sold them back to us and now we use them as oil rags. I know because I am in Iraq.)

    Look at the bigger picture, educate yourselves so YOU CAN make a difference in the enviorment, save yourself some money and save the American economy without spending a dime.

    How do you do that? Protest protest protest. Something can be learned from France. Their government is afraid of the people but in America we are afraid of our government.

  28. E. Field says:

    I have spend a lot of money on solar since I moved to Kingsport Tennessee and Tennessee government should be embarrass from the lack of incentives to get customers to invest into alternate energy.

  29. andy says:

    Last December (2010) was the end of our 2nd year of PV solar. 2010 was a “clean” year, in that I didn’t make any changes ( 2009, added more panels mid year )

    Here are the production numbers for 2010:

    3339kw/hrs solar produced for the year.

    Average per month: 278.25kw/hrs produced

    Total used for 2010: 13,743kw/hrs
    Average month: 1145kw/hrs

    Total electric bills: $550.87
    Average monthly bill: $45.91

    System is a 3.15kw rated, 18 175w panels on single axis homebuilt trackers.

    Plans for this year are to add 10 more panels on a new array (245w panels) upping the system to 5.5kw rated.

  30. SHANNON W. says:

    I seen a post on here about the so called (green energy)you can buy from TVA via the Johnson City power board. If you research it on their site it shows for each $4.00 block you get 150 kwh. I called Johnson City power board and spoke to marketing section to find out this is a big scam. They told me the sky is the limit on how many you buy but the blocks dont go to the buyer. It is said to go to the grid and you are donating to everyone around you. THis is a lie. Everyone around me also has a cash register (power meter), outside their house, that clicks on for the power board. Please dont waste your hard earned money letting them fraud you.

  31. Karlene says:

    I am very interested in going solar. I know through much research it is expensive to purchase. I have found a 3 Kw system used but i live in a remote area of Pocahontas, Tn. I am in the process of trying to find out who installs solar, the people in phone book is no help they are not qualified or so that is what ive found so far. I am just now starting the process.

  32. Eric says:

    I also find it disturbing that so many people want other citizens to subsidize their green lifestyle. Everybody is paying tons of taxes on every product and service, including people who can barely afford to eat, so when I hear that somebody who wants to build their dream house is upset that the government, aka their neighbors, won’t give them money to help with it… Tennessee isn’t in the 19th Century – Tennessee provides a lot more liberty for its citizens than states like California that are taxing and regulating their state and citizens into bankruptcy to pay for all their green mandates.

  33. Mark says:

    Troy suggests tieing some panels to circuit(s) in your house. Anyone enough of an electircian to tell more details of code violations, etc. to watch out for. I sure wish I could avoid batteries and use my existing home wiring with homemade panels etc. Anyway, I emailed the big solar company in Nashville with one question and they quickly asked if they could send a guy to give me a proposal for free. Can’t beat that.
    [email protected]

  34. TackyTeddy says:

    Here in Cumberland County TN it cost me $7000 for the PV panels, micro inverters, service pipe meter box, main box and CB’s and wire. Also a few helping hands for this 1.4Kw (nameplate) system.

    TVA (VEC) will give me $1,000 up front and pay $0.12 over my base Kw rate of $0.085). so TVA (VEC)is paying $0.20 per Kw for a 10yr contract. They (VEC) charges me a $250.00 meter hookup fee, so that $1000.00 is really $750.00 (hands in pocket)

    So I should get about $30.00 per month from my 1.4 Kw system facing do South on a 6/12 pitch roof.

    This picture link (mine) might work for ya (work in progress)

    Also here’s our group Cumberland County TN Chapter of the Solar Energy Association

  35. Douglas Benton says:

    Want to start a couple of million jobs? Why can’t we get our STUPID elected oficials to increase the 30% tax credit to 100% and we could all install solar on our homes and businesses??? Then, TVA wouldn’t have to buy any coal, Co2 levels would go down, no more acid-rain in the mountains, our electric bill would go down to maybe $0, and our utility could keep the same infrastructure for many years. We are a 3rd party financing company in the solar industry in Tennessee! For just 3 to 5% deposit, we can install any size system you want and you get your deposit back in 2 to 3 years!!! Please email me at [email protected] for more information.

  36. Coty says:

    Anyone in Middle TN area? My neighbor just installed 4 HUGE panels in his yard. I am told he is being paid for using them. I would like to install some as well and did see the flexable panels. Can anyone in this area give me an idea of how much I would need to spend to and how much I would need (3000 sq ft house) to make a difference.

  37. Ge orge T says:

    You know, I am simply amazed and disgusted at the number of people wanting a tax deduction or some special dispensation because they want to go solar. HEY! If it’s what you want, do it. Why should Tennessee taxpayers subsidize you being able to sell back electricity to TVA, a publicly owned electric company.
    As for solar, the reason few people have it is because it is cost prohibitive.
    There are currently available, mini-nuclear plants that can supply electricity to communities of around 25,000 houses, for about $300 dollars a year; the home owners would have to pay the cost of the unit, to be installed underground. THAT cost would be about 2,000 dollars every 10 years. If you are mathematically inclined, you can see the superior advantage to this kind of electric producer. And the more of these units that are sold, the cheaper they will get.
    Kiss solar goodbye: it is too costly and inefficient; the maintenance is also expensive. And stop looking for others to pay for you to get what you want.

    1. Dan Hahn says:

      Hey George,

      I hear you on the gripe about taxpayers subsidizing other’s solar installations and I gotta say, that’s one hell of an interesting idea to have your own little nuclear plant underneath your home. While many citizens probably wouldn’t mind the increased odds of having their children born with extra limbs, some might. Gotta correct you on the maintenance aspect of solar however – there is relatively little that needs to be done to maintain a solar system once it is up on your roof. Then again, I’m not sure you’re the type of person who would have panels up there in the first place. Thanks for stopping by,

      – Dan

  38. Troy says:

    I think photovoltaics are a useful part of the energy supply, but I’m amazed at how many people on here are upset because they want solar for their own use, but are unhappy someone else won’t help them pay for it! Stop blaming the other guy, save up and make it happen. You could put in a few panels and a few batteries for under $2,500.00. Put a couple of your moderately used lighting circuits on it and you are on your way. Stop looking for handouts or for someone else to get it done for you.

    1. Dude says:

      Oh yeah, You got it Troy. Free lunch crowd is so emotional. I would love to sell solar back to the TVA. Think about it. If it was such a great idea, why won’t TVA just put up their own PV panels? They get you to pay for 3/4 of it and then maintain it and they pay you pennies on the KwH for it. Great deal for them!

  39. Scott Kersey says:

    I can agree with most things posted here. It really chaps my backside when I hear on the news TVA has jerked rates up (for the umpteenth month in a row), followed by a news blurb about the TVA handing out multi-million dollar bonuses to its upper management. I’d love to swing to the solar side of the fence, but its just not cost effective yet. Adding to the frustrations, no one will lend me the 40K+ I’d need to build the system. “Unproven tech”, “Not a good return on (our)investment”, “We can’t secure a loan with solar panels” are things I’ve heard when asking to borrow some cash. BUT, if I asked for 40K to go buy a new gas sucking hummer…the answer is always the same “SURE”. WTH is wrong with this picture? Why has it been made so hard to get the switch done? At what point will we step forward rather than backward?
    Like many of you, I’m sick of $300 per month heading out the door to the electric company, in exchange for using my lights. I’ve replaced light bulbs with CFLs, pushed the A/C to 77 and heat to 65 in winter, I yell at the kids to turn off anything they aren’t using…and yet every month the bill edges closer to 400.
    The worst part, I pass a sign everyday that is tacked up to a telephone pole “Knoxville, a Solar City”…ya, right, sure it is…We can give huge tax breaks to the big corps, but little guys get either a few thousand or nada when we try to change the world. Perhaps a change in management (or government) is in order. Carter put solar on the white house in ’79, Reagan had them removed soon after…that should say something about the state of affairs we see in this country.
    Convincing the average Joe that solar, wind, or bio-fuels are a smart move seems to be like explaining nuclear physics to a cave man. Should it really be this hard?
    I have imagined a world, with a simple plan of just a few PV cells per home. All grid inter-tied, and reducing the overall load on the system. Everyone benefits, tax breaks or rebates cover the costs, (we are after all spending billions is US cash to fund wars overseas, and giving those same countries billions in “rebuilding” aid all to protect some silly oil production BS, that we could do without all together if we pulled our head outta our ___ and used alternative tech) its a win-win for the consumer…but a net loss for the producer.
    Ok, enough…I’ll step off the soap box for now. Hopefully, some will read this and get as fired up as I am, or maybe a few might just change their thinking on the whole green type movement.

    1. Dan Hahn says:


      Thanks for your thoughts, especially your comparison of securing funds for a gas guzzling Hummer to home solar panels.

    2. Dude says:

      Sounds like the bank is the only one with any sense. If they won’t loan you money, they know IT AIN’T WORTH IT. Now the car has value, so they loan you $. Warm and fuzzy, tree hugging, dirt person stuff (emotional) is not always commercially viable. Capitalism (logical) works and works well. Why would a cave man need to know nuclear physics? he would not! Rule of thumb. If the govm’nt is subsidizing it, then it is not viable. If they are taxing it, then it is! Simple as that.

  40. jack henley says:

    joey eavey, you say we can build the solar for hundreds as to the thousands that i have priced. i would be interested if you could give me some direction on this. i am talking solar panels. i live in lenoir city tn. lcub power they don,t give credits yet but i will ask for them to start and see what they say if enough of us ask.

  41. Gary Fletcher says:

    It seems to me that you are either off the grid or on. There is no in between. So to be completely off the grid it is necessary to have a battery system to supply power for the duration of the highest consumption hours during the day. What device must I purchase to gauge this usage? In addition, I have a friend who has a cabin on High Knob in Wise County Virginia completly off the grid. He says his main problem is batteries. He says that NASA has the correct batteries but the government entity won’t release them. He says these batteries would solve all the off production time power requirements. Anyone have intimate knowledge of these batteries?

  42. Rita says:

    Does anyone have a recommendation of a solar installer in TN close to Memphis?

    1. Dave Llorens says:

      Hi Rita,

      Please fill this out and if we have anyone in the area they will give you a buzz.

  43. Ken says:

    Andy, you need to have the local utility install a net meter. My systems produces just like yours but when I’m not consuming I have actually watched my meter spin backwards. In the example you gave above about going on vacation, first read would be 4911 and second read would be 4411 indicating that you actually put all your energy on the grid. Oh and the .12 cents is in addition to the 9.5 cents so you should be getting a credit of .21.5 cents per KwH. Just a thought but you might want to take that up with the local utility.

  44. Joey Eavey says:

    I want to know why they wont buy all power produced.I have 100 acres to start a solar and wind farm, but they wont pay you for all the energy your capable of producing.taxpayers paid for grid why cant we use & wind is very simple to manufacture yourself why do they make you spend $30,000 when you can build your own commercial grade panel for a few hundred.How long are americans just going to keep letting these evil corp. & Gov. officials get awy with it.I’m a builder & my wife teaches, we pay for all the bums, we pay for the CEO’s new jets, now there’s not a gallon of milk for my own kids.Let’s all do something,100 milion on Oboma’s porch should do the trick. [email protected]

  45. andy says:

    And of course, my figures were off in the example I used…..500+300 is 800 and times 9 cents is $72, not 81….so the total bill would be 8 + 72 or 80, not 90…..

    But since this has no “edit” feature, I couldn’t correct my mistake….please forgive….it’s early….ahahahaaa

  46. andy says:


    Harvey is trying too explain the rate structure, but I too found it quite confusing.

    Here’s the deal.

    TVA has a program called Green Partners. TVA will pay ( new, as of 1 July 09 ) 12 cents/kwhr OVER whatever your local power distributor charges for all solar (PV) electricity you produce…..BUT your local power distributor has to agree to participate in the program…..only a handful across the TVA region do…..but I suspect it’s more because nobody asked the others to do so that they don’t. Our distributor ( Johnson City Power Board ) did not until I attended a meeting and asked them to do so.

    So, no, they don’t “push” the program, and unless someone in their distribution area is going to install a grid tied system, they don’t participate…but again, I suspect it’s more a matter of just asking them to do so…..since the costs are paid by TVA.

    On the pay: Your solar pay is 12 cents/kwhr. Say your local is 9 cents ( it varies from distributor to distributor ), you would receive 21 cents TOTAL for everything your separate solar production meter records.

    Your bill ( or at least MY JCPB bill )records the number of KwHrs on the original billing meter….say it shows I used 500kwhrs this month…they would charge me 8 bucks for the customer charge plus 9 cents times 500 ( $45 ) for the 500kwhrs……so my bill SHOULD read 8+45=$53.

    But it doesn’t. Because they assume you also used ALL the solar you produced as well. Say my solar meter says I produced 300kwhrs that same month.

    My bill would be for $8 + ( 500+300 )x 9 cents, or 8+81=$90.

    The billing paperwork ( at least JCPB ) is clunky, and does NOT show you are being billed for 800kwhrs ( it shows only the 500 from the billing meter )… have to sort of “figure it out” by knowing the power rate and working it backwards from there…but that IS what they are doing.

    OK…so your bill is $90.

    NOW you get your credit for the solar production.

    21 cents x 300hrs = $63

    $90 – $63 = net bill of $27…that is what you pay.

    The billing meter is bi-directional, so should you produce more power than your house is consuming at any point, the billing meter runs BACKWARDS…..and of course, that would reduce the amount shown in “KwHrs used this month” when you get your bill…potentially, with a large enough system, you could end up with positive credit in your account…and it REALLY wouldn’t take that large a system with the 12cent factor…

    For example, our 3kw system produces about 350-400kws hours per month….and we typically use about 900/month ( and have for 30 years )….

    900kwhrs (total) x 9 cents + CCharge is a $90 bill.

    400kwhrs x 21 cents is $84.

    We’d owe 6 bucks.

    So with a slightly larger system, we’d be on the “they owe us” side of things quite a bit of the time……

  47. Alan Ingram says:

    Recently, overflying Nashville and Tampa and West Palm Beach, FL, I noticed a large number of very large commercial business buildings that could be ripe for solar panel installatins to reduce the amount of draw from the grid. Maybe the more logical solar farms are existing structures in the high use areas.

  48. jimmy-joe says:

    Hey guys it’s real easy to send an email to your state representitive telling them how you feel about alternative energy and the direction you feel this country should be heading. Trading a bunch of carbon credits between the big oil companies ain’t going to do nothing but raise the price of gas at the pump for us working types. We need some real help from those folks we sent to Washington. Green is the way to go long term no doubt… It’s going to take a while to get there no doubt… So what the heck do we do in the meantime while we are waiting for solar – etc. to get cheaper? How much stuff ever gets cheaper?

  49. jimmy-joe says:

    Sorry I think I confused Ralph for Harvey, I meant to say… Did anyone understand what Harvey had to say? It’s kind of like some sort of code or something… What is he saying?

  50. jimmy-joe says:

    Did anyone understand a word that the Ralph guy said…? I didin’t get any of it. My question is that I didn’t think that the electric coop’s in TN did ANYTHING to help push solar at the residential level. I thought that if I did build a system on my house, that I would HAVE to be off the power grid and simply have a stand alone system that supplied no one but me… Ya’ll educate me here, what is the real scoop? We will probably sell in a few years and leave the Memphis area to head closer to the TN river area and I believe the coop there is pickwick electric near the lake but I am not sure about the coop further north of say Savannah TN. I had thought about retirement around Corinth MS or over in Alabama even, but have no idea what those coops offer either. I’m not too sure about being north of I-40 near the river because there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in the way hospital support etc. Of course I may need more education in that subject also. I am sure there is more if you go all the way up to Paris Tn… but it gets a bit colder there in winter months. Ya’ll be good… or be good at it… over & out

  51. Ralph says:

    harvey, and all others. We here in Nashville, TN are also more than Lucky, TVA is providing a Net-metering as well, every bit of power you produce using Solar, Wind, Hydro into the Grid with a Grid-tied system, you will receive $0.15 back on your Electric bill. You are being charged for each KWH you are taking from the Grid $0.09. So now here comes the great news. If you are working family and your house sits idle – with less than for example 1 KW per hour, and your Solar panels are laid out for 4 KW peak, and the sun shines on your southern roof (no pun intended) for the majority of time you are at work (may 12 hours) then your Home is producing 12 * 3 KWH (excess energy then needed) * $0.15 = $5.40 a day * 360 = $1944 a year. Well in the morning Hours / Night time the home will probably also use somewhere conservatively 1.5 KW * 12 * 0.09 = $1.62 of power you will have to pay for * 360 = $583.20 – So your profit making home makes you an extra: $1360.80 a year! Not to mention the Carbon foot print reduction and the pollution reduction that you contributed. How does that sound as future outlook for all of us? Check out my blog for Ralph’s Going Green Blog!

  52. harvey walden says:

    I’m tied into south west elec in haywood country how its work here is at the current rate of .09kwh they will pay .12kwh for solar power. So when a person installs a solar system the elec company will install a meter in between the system and house let’s say your system produces 2000kwh per month and you use 2000kwh per month you will be charged 360 dollars instead of 180 that was your normal amount of your elec bill then south west will pay you .21kwh (.09 base pluse .12 for produceing renewable power) for every kwh that comes through the meter that’s between the system and the house. They will pay .21kwh x 2000kwh (which you produced) total of 420 dollars you paided 360 so you had a net of 80 dollars plus your base of 180 dollars so each month your saying 260 dollars x 12 months 3120 dollars. That’s at todays numbers in 18 months our elec will increase by 42 percent there’s a new bill going through congress as we speak that will make carbons credits go to 50 dollars a ton when that happens solar panels will be a hot topic (no pun intened) the largest constuction site in tn is east of nashville and cost 2b yes b and will be up for production in 2012 its a japan company that make solar panels and with the 25 m project at the haywood meg a site that will be a [email protected] solar field will take 23000 solar panels I believe in the near furture solar will be the norm in west tn area I’m sure the above was clear as mud hope I help alittle [email protected]

  53. andy says:


    Adding batteries will up your cost considerably, as you have to have more components.

    I went that way because I wanted backup power if the grid is down ( which happens to us on a fairly regular basis….we are at the end of the line )….in fact, THAT was primary reason for my system, but a straight grid only tie would have been quite a bit cheaper. I probably have 25-30% more in my system because of the batteries…..the batteries alone were 2 grand……two Outback charge controllers ( $600 each ), wiring, extra disconnects, etc….

  54. Meredith says:

    Thanks Andy. I was about to plunk down 5k to get rolling (something to build on). I live in Fayette Cty and Chickasaw Elec Coop is my elec company. They said I could grid tie. Do you think getting a battery would solve this or is it a bust?

  55. andy says:

    Well, I have to admit I was operating on WRONG information in my above post. I was told by the fellow that sold me some of my equipment the above information about how the payment works, and like SO MUCH ELSE of what he told me, that is ALSO NOT CORRECT.

    I got to studying my first few bills with “generation partners credit” on it, and as it turns how, and this NOT very apparent from the bill until you put a calculator to it and REALLY start breaking it down, that NOT ONLY IS TVA NNNNNNNNOT paying you 15 cents NET for your production, you may well be paying THEM to produce it !!!!! WHAT A SCREW JOB !!!!!

    How SO you ask ?

    Well, here’s HOW it works.

    You have two meters. The normal “buy” meter for what you consume….and the “generation” meter for what you produce ( wind/solar ). They take the amount you produce and credit you 15 cents/kwhr……then they ASSUME you do use those hours in your house, and ADD THOSE VERY SAME HOURS to the amount of your normal meter reading ( but the JCPB sure doesn’t put THAT on the bill….you have to take the energy charge, divide it by the local amount per KwHr…if you know it…and come up with the ACTUAL amount of KwHrs they are charging you for !! )…..

    SO, here’s the breakdown….we pay our local power board 9.3 cents per hour. When you subtract that 9.3 cents from the 15 cents they give you credit for, your NET AMOUNT ( here ) is 5.7 cents…..that is ALL they are actually “giving” you. They show a “credit” on the bill of 0.15 times the number of hours produced, so you think “hey, this ain’t bad”, BUT what they DON’T show you without you calculating it is the fact YOU are paying for 62 cents of every dollar of “credit” on that deal !!!

    AND WAIT…it gets WORSE. Since they “assume” that every single one of those kilowatt hours you produce got used at YOUR house, and charge you for each of them on the buy side of the deal, should your house NOT actually use them, and they escape to the grid, YOU GET TO PAY THEM 9.3 cents per hour for the privilege of that !! WOW>>>WHAT A DEAL !!

    For example: Say my system produces 500 Kwhrs/month. Say I went on vacation and flipped the main breaker on my house so it was using NOTHING for 30 days while I was gone…nothing….absolutely zero. The buy meter would show no change from the previous month’s use ( assuming my vacation lined up exactly with the reading period )….but my solar power system kept right on rocking along, and produced it’s average 500kwhrs during that same time period. What would the bill for that month look like ?

    Previous reading ( example ) 4911
    Current reading 4911
    Hours used: 0
    Energy charge : $46.50 ( you owe them….for the 500 hours YOU produced )
    Generation credit: $75 ( credit to you at 15 cents/hr )

    Net amount due -28.50

    ALL OF YOUR 500 hours went out to the grid ( had to…you had the house shut off…it COULDN’T use any )and paid them 46.50 for that power that DID NOT come to your….they credit you 28.50 for it. $28.50 divided by 500 hours = 5.7 cents/hr

    OK, this is an EXTREME example of one end…..many of the hours you produce WILL actually be consumed by your own house, no doubt….but the deal is, THEY CAN’T TELL how many you actually DO use and how many escape to the grid…..but still bill you for ALL of them as if you DID use them !

    With a solar system, it’s quite possible MANY of them flow to the grid.

    Take your household demand. Most households, the demand is greatest in 2 periods of the day….6am to about 8am in my house, when we get up, make breakfast, shower, get ready for work, school, etc….but my system is NOT producing electricity right then, so I’m buying power thru the “buy” meter. Then about 9am, my solar power system comes online, produces great until about 4-5pm, about the time we get home, and start up our other demand time…..evening…and my system is producing nothing… again, we BUY power thru the BUY meter.

    What happened to the power produced during the day when nobody was home ?

    Well, some of it surely ran the fridge, and some phantom loads like the TV, the electric clocks, heat/air ( if you leave it on…..we don’t use either ), but let’s assume that SOME of that production actually “escaped” to the grid during your peak production but minimum use period. You STILL pay for that power you didn’t use ! AND the bigger your solar production, the more likely this is to happen….certainly NO incentive to expand your system, huh ?

    We have used 900 kwhrs per month, on average, for the last 30 years. IF I were to put in a system that produced 2000 kwhrs per month, average, TVA would only pay me 5.7 cents/hr for that extra 1100 Kwhrs I produced for them even though I spent the $100,000 it would take to put in such a system. Real deal, huh ?

    NOTHING like that “15 cents per hour” they tout in the Green Partners literature. In fact, you fool, you are probably producing power cheaper than THEY are at that rate…..but thanks…and have a nice day…..sucker……

    SO, the bottom line is the Generation Partner “deal” isn’t that much of a “deal” after all…..

  56. Richard says:

    Found out that AEP will not buy solar power, And there new meters will count the energy you send them as energy you used making your bill even higher, Those greedy XXXXXXXX will not change ther meters to reflect the energy you send to them.

  57. Jason Kirby says:

    I just read that there is a photo solar power plant in Memphis on Mendenhall. Sharp I believe. Here is my Idea. Sharp needs to have some sort of contract agreement with Lowe’s or Home Depot, to advertise and sell their products in the stores. They could train employees how to install, and make it like buying a car with a very low interst rate. Also since the supply and demand would both rise at about the same time, the cost should be reasonable. Then if it takes off really well in Memphis, the power plants could open in West Memphis, Arkansas, and spread outward. Abe Lincoln said we are a Government of the people, for the people, by the people. Let’s stop blaming the people we elect not doing their job, and start point some fingers at ourself. If every person in memphis who has a mortgage bought a Solar Roof from Sharp through Lowe’s instead of buying a new car this year, Memphis could be the first city in the US, to say, Hey America, this is how its really done: Self Government, Hooyah!

  58. andy says:

    I finished up a 2kw solar install at my house and went online 19 Dec 08. Grid tie with battery backup, spent about 18k on it. You can certainly do a cheaper system by eliminating the battery backup, ( battery bank alone was 2k )but one of my primary reasons FOR the system was backup power in a grid down situation, so I didn’t go that route.

    So far, it’s produced about 250 KwHrs/month, but the first month was LOUSY weather here..snow, rain, foggy ( I live in East TN mountains ), and I mounted the panels on a couple of homemade tracking mounts, which I’ve had trouble getting to work so far ( control board issues )but when I do get them running, I expect then to do +/- 350kw/hrs per month on a year round average. Sure loving these LONGER spring days !!

    Getting ready to add another 6 panels to up it to 3.1kw total and shooting for 500kwhrs/month total. ( Another $5,000 )

    One thing folks might be missing here, and I didn’t catch myself until I did my actual install, is in addition to the 15 cent TVA generation partner credit you get, you ALSO get to use that hour of electricity AFTER it goes thru the buyback meter if your house is consuming electricity at that point ( which ours most likely is, as we have 3 freezers + fridge ), so the money works out BETTER than it seems at first….we pay about 9.5 cents/hr, but since we get the use of our solar hours ( if using while they generate ) + the 15 cents, that works out to around 20-24 cents/hr for our generation…..not a bad deal, folks.

    500hrs/month will be over 1/2 our normal 900hr/month use, and the way the money works, it should replace about all of our bill.

    If you have questions on my system, email me. [email protected]

  59. Chad C Payne Sr says:

    I agree Residential systems are not really viable at this time. I am interested to see what the stimulus bill has in store for solar. I have done some calculations on Commercial systems and I can see a payoff of the original investment and a revenue in 9 years without considereing depreciation. Commercially in Tennessee systems should be priced between $8-10/watt installed, depending on the size of the system.

  60. Earl says:

    Even with the 30% tax refund it is still going to be a large expense in TN we just don’t get the sun other states get. I am looking at an 8,000 DC watt system with a solar thermal system for hot water this would give me around 11,000 AC kWh a year. This would be around 110% of my power usage for the year but since I do not have net metering here and since AEP will not buy my excess power I will need to ether cut back on the system or add Batteries so that I can power the house at night. If I was only 2 miles down the road I would be on TVA and would be able to sell power back to them.
    The total coast of my system would be close to 65k installed that is more then I want to spend even with the 30% tax credit. I could shave that cost down some by doing the install my self but I just have too many things going on and don’t have the time to invest now.

  61. Ike says:

    GOOD NEWS fellow Tennesseans for anyone who has thought about going solar but was shocked at the cost and the lack of help from county, state and federal governments. Federal Bill HR 1424 (the TARP bill) has provisions to change the small $2,000 federal tax credit that was given in previous years to a 30% tax credit of the INSTALLED costs a renewable energy system. I read the bill today and it seems to include residential systems.

    I have been loosely tracking solar panel systems for residential use for about a year. My intent is to install a system on my roof (the back of my house is directly south facing) and have been pricing the materials to see if it is even feasible for a solar panel system to pay for itself in 5 years or so.

    The Guesstimate for the materials for 2000w system (no battery storage) is around $13,000 but I will have to install the system and get a licensed electrician to hook up the inverter and other miscellaneous electrical services and permits. That will push it up to around $15,000 complete. The problem is that without batteries and without net metering from the local utility company, I’m not getting a good bang for my buck. I will run the numbers and see if this type renewable energy system even makes sense for my location and on-grid energy costs.

    And YES, no help from MLGW but unlike the previous comments above, energy is cheap in Memphis thanks to MLGW so don’t give them too much criticism. My brother lives in Texas in the same size house as mine and he pays nearly twice as much per Kilowatt as we do.

    So here we have it. 30 percent off your next 2009 year taxes if you invest in a renewable energy system that WORKS (how they verify that it works I have no idea). That’s about all the help we Tennesseans are going to see for awhile so if you’re in the market for renewable energy, this is your chance to run the numbers and see if renewable energy is worth it!

    PS, for all the tree-huggers who will probably want to respond in some GREEN way to my self-centered diatribe shown above, please do so with positive comments and suggestions as that is what this website is about. Have a nice day!

  62. Earl says:

    Solar power incentives in TN are going to be hard to get do to us not having state taxes. I know it would be nice if we could get some kind of county or city property tax brake but in all reality property tax in TN compared to say Fla. is not that much. I would say I pay ½ the taxes here that I paid in Fla and I only paid county taxes in Fla here I pay both city and county.
    At best it would be great if we could get net metering here. The only way we are going to accomplish this is if we work together to make it happen. We need to let the tax incentives go for the time being and work together to get net metering here in TN only after we have accomplished this will we passably be able to work towards tax incentives at the local level.
    Now let me start by saying I’m not a web site expert so I will need to do some more research on web hosting but we need to get a web site started with a good message forum to help support our cause. A place ware we can all come to keep each other motivated on accomplishing our goal. I have done some quick research on starting a web site and it will cost around $200 to get it up and running so I have to decide if I can do that now. Maybe we can find a solar power massage board already out there that would suite our needs.
    Next we need to type up a down loadable form with some of our key points on why we want net metering and why it is important to help increase the use of residential alternative energy sources.
    From here we would need to get our family friend every one we know to send the form to the TN senators and congressmen. We may not even want to stop there we could also send it to the more localized government like the governor and the mayors of the cities.
    We have to do this over and over again we need to get a list of names on a potion so that we can prove that there is a substantial number of supporters in TN that want this to happen so that they have to take notice. I will start a new e-mail account for this and post it here for those who may be interested in this and maybe we can get a movement started in TN towards cleaner power.

  63. Jason says:

    Comment on June 11th, 2008.

    Why should the government offer incentives any way. If you want to use solar go for it. If you can’t and don’t like the idea of good clean coal – turn off your lights and AC and truley live in the19century

    Andrew, you are as clueless as it gets!
    The Government gives billions to big energy companies that do nothing but give it to their CEOs as huge multi-million dollar bonuses (think TVA, Exxon,etc..) Why not invest that same money in local green power (Oh yeah, greed, corruption, stupid people like you that believe what your told)
    CLEAN COAL DOES NOT EXIST and never will! It is another catch phrase to humor STUPID PEOPLE!!!(like Andrew)
    Fact is, a lot of greedy CEOs and politician will have to die at the hands of the common person before anything will ever change in this country! Andrew probably thinks he still lives in a democracy. Funny, ain’t it.

  64. Leanne says:

    We live in Shelby County and I agree with all that was said about the non-existent “green” policy here. Our elected officials would much rather embezzle funds. Is there any organized grass roots group here in Shelby county to keep pushing this idea? If so, I would like to be involved!

  65. k says:

    I am really sad I was so excited when I started researching solar power I guess this will not happen for my spouse and I. Way out of our working class budget

  66. Ray says:

    I am equally frustraited ,i have designed out a solar hybrid system to produce clean energy (much more than my home would use) and was looking at it like green with extra income potential and have found all the “gov red tape” that all you can get here in Tenn. is credit on your elec bill…lol they don’t even offer the “R.E.C.s here (renewable energy credits) to give anyone an incentive to spend the money to go green as they keep preaching about it publicly then hide from the issues of actually doing something about it ….i say if they are just lazy (or in big businesses pocket) move over and let us do something …So if anyone has any info on how i can circumvent them and get the credits that are sold or simply sell back to the grid OR have net metering here ,please email me the info ([email protected]),i know for 4 dollars they will sell you what they say is green energy but where does it come from and what is needed to do the same as the producers…in the cumberland elec co. system ,the energy director said one person (living in ashland city) of 98,000 has solar….1 in 98,000 can that be right? ,thank you.

  67. Mike says:

    Here in Memphis, MLG&W is a public owned utility.. of course this broke city isn’t going to do anything to prevent money from leaving our pocket and filling theirs. I am not sure but I believe TVA is publicly owned as well. I know MLG&W buys their energy from TVA and as of today (10-1-08) there is going to be a 20% rate increase.

  68. Connie says:

    I live in portland and am just as discouraged by the price we have a family with one income in order to help save money for our family and contribute to saving our planet we have to go broke to install a about the state help us help ourselves.But I guess that would be to good to be true since big buisness and the state/government have the most say.

  69. Matt says:

    What’s with the incredibly high estimates from this solar calculator on this and every other solar install website I hit?? I too hear all the time about $10,000 to $20,000 for an install, then this calculator keeps coughing up $60,000 (!!!!!) for a small system supplying half of small house energy needs. OK either all these news reports are wrong or this calculator is a unbelievably harmful POS that is actually DISCOURAGING everyone from going solar. Which is it?

  70. Kevin says:

    Andrew: The state and Federal governments should offer an incentive because you’ve spent all of your money building your own energy system and no longer burn up all of the coal. Less coal, less emissions, less carbon footprint, less waste, less of everything bad. But something tells me you’re a non-believer.

  71. Trey says:

    Does anyone know the best way to find a contractor capable of sealing and weatherstripping an old house in Memphis. I know I can go to the phone book, but I wanted to find someone who knew what they were doing instead of throwing up some weatherstripping and saying it was done.

  72. Ben says:

    god what a frustrating state! i just moved to the nashville area from missouri (which wasn’t much better), and i am shocked to see how little concern there seems to be for sustainability and ecology here. my wife and i are actively looking for land to buy so we can build our eco-house… i am very sad to see that we won’t be getting any state help to make solar power financially feasible for us.

    well, i hear that over the next two years the cost of solar tech will drop dramatically, making it accessible to practically anyone… lets keep fingers crossed that corporations don’t hijack the tech and hold it back from the public for the sake of the bottom line and keeping investors happy… there is just too much at stake here!

  73. Michael says:


    First off, call up TVA and talk with someone from Generation Partners. I can’t give you names, because that would be rude of me. Size is limited too 0.5 to 50 kW AC. You can produce as much as you want. I also beleive that they are trying to put a bill through Senate that increases the Residential Solar and Fuel Cell Tax Credit from 2000, to 4000. I do some work as a newbie energy consultant. Email me and I can fill in some spreadsheets for you so you can see ROI and what not.

  74. Andrew says:

    Why should the government offer incentives any way. If you want to use solar go for it. If you can’t and don’t like the idea of good clean coal – turn off your lights and AC and truley live in the 19century.

    1. Anonymous says:

      The government shouldn’t subsidize anything.

    2. Bill says:

      Exactly. If it is viable and “sustainable” (the REAL meaning) then the private sector would be all over it. I just heard that Siemens and Bosch are dropping their solar manufacturing. If those two can’t make a go of it, why should I bother?

  75. Julio says:

    I,ve got a question.
    To install a PV system in Teennessee state i,ve read you can subscribe “green power switch generation partners” throught TVA.
    This is my question:
    Can i install a PV system bigger than my home energy needs?
    If yes, can i sell all this energy to TVA?
    Thanks for all and sorry about my english, as you can see im not from USA, but im so interesting in solar energy market.

  76. Jack Bishop says:

    Tennessee was just rated one of the most wasteful energy states. I have been attempting to wake up our local elected officials in Memphis and Shelby County to the need for incentives for renewable energy sources. So far they have fallen on deaf ears. Like wise the our state government is still in the 19th century. I have proposed the Memphis Pyramid be converted to a solar power station. The all glass exterior is perfect. This could generate electricity that could be sold back to the grid creating a new revenue stream for local government. No go to our flat earth officials.

  77. David Llorens says:

    Hi Bill,

    Contact an Installer and get a quote. It won’t be much pain an suffering, and at least you’ll know for sure so you can make an informed decision if you want to do it or not. These numbers above aren’t 100% accurate, although they will be in the next two months or so.

  78. Bill Hooker says:

    I’m so frustrated!! I was inspired by watching a PBS broadcast the other night indicating the cost for installing solar for the average home was $15,000-$18,000. Now after reading your site it look to be about triple that cost.

    While I am interested in solar, the cost still seems prohibitive. Too bad our state offers no incentives and the federal government offers little as well. I was impressed with Germany’s efforts. The U.S. just lags behind, oblivious to what the world and science is telling us. It’s so sad…and maddening.

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