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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Home Solar Panels in Tennessee

For every dollar you invest in solar panels in Tennessee,
you get an average of $2.19 in savings.

Total savings
over 25 years

Power bill savings &
production incentives

0

Cost of solar
in Tennessee

Up-front cost after
1st-year incentives

0
=
$ $ $ $

0

return per
dollar invested

Learn More

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Your 2020 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 2020 **

TVA’s Green Power Providers program now fully dead. If you want to install solar panels on your home in TN, expect very little in the way of recompense from the utility.

Should you despair and throw your hand up in the air? No! We recommend FIGHTING! Demand that the state legislature and the TVA board reinstate net metering and guarantee the right of all Tennesseans to interconnect and use or sell their electricity as they see fit.

What you'll find on this page:

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:

Tennessee's Renewable Portfolio Standard

None

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!

Learn more about Renewable Portfolio Standards

Tennessee's Solar carve-out and SRECs

None

Grade: F

Tennessee's Solar Carve-out grade

No RPS means no solar carve out.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Tennessee Electricity Prices

$0.11/kWh

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.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Tennessee Net Metering

TVA Dispersed Power Program

Grade: F

Tennessee's Net Metering grade

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 has announced its new “Dispersed Power Program”. This is basically the same thing as net metering, however the credits you get for sending your electricity back to TVA when you’re not using it are set by TVA annually, and will probably not be near full retail rates. For clearer savings estimates, connect with an installer in Tennessee we trust.

Learn more about net metering

Tennessee Interconnection Rules

None

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.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Tennessee Solar Incentives

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 26% of your total system 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:

The availability of state solar incentives for residential solar systems was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, utility company websites, and the state public utility commission.

Tennessee Solar Power Rebates

None

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!

Learn more about solar rebates

Tennessee Solar Tax Credits

None

Grade: C

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.

Learn more about state solar tax credits

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.

Sales Tax Exemption

100%

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!

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

Low-income Solar Programs

None

Grade: F

Tennessee's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade Learn more about low-income solar programs available in the U.S.

The consensus on Tennessee solar power rebates and incentives

Tennessee has something of a split-identity going on with solar power policy. TVA has has several start-and-stop solar programs, and the latest, the Dispersed Power Program, is not all that great. We’re hopeful that Tennessee can get it together when it comes to state policy, but for now, there isn’t much to recommend home solar to the people of the Volunteer State.

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John Atkins
Guest

I suggest you research TVA’s GPP again. Once the very positive program you describe, today’s GPP, by paying far less than the retail price/kWh for 100% of the solar power generated, a GPP system will never pay for itself and will never generate positive cashflow. Further, since TVA will not buy any excess power from a customer’s behind the meter system, TVA forces the solar customer to either install a tiny system that will never produce excess power (all solar system occasionally do so) or install still expensive solar storage. TVA has long subtly discouraged solar and continues to do… Read more »

Ben Zientara
Admin

Thanks John, this page does need an update. TVA’s Green Power Providers program is indeed a shadow of what it once was, and Tennesseans are worse off for it. Stay tuned.

george douglas cox
Guest

If I have large capacity batteries to run at night and in off sun hours would I be better off not to connnect to TVA?

Dale
Guest

TVA will purchase your power for a period off 20 years. System size up to 10kW receive $.09 per kWh. Over 10kW and up to 50kW system receive $.075 per kWh. So, if you are on the TVA program, you can offset your power bill while taking advantage of your hybrid solar facility’s stored energy during evening and night hours. You actually have a few different options for set up under this scenario.

John Atkins
Guest

Dale, Just now seeing your comment… TVA’s GPP (enrollment ends this year) pays only 75% commercial) to 90% (residential) of retail price for 100% of your solar output. You then must buy any power you need to use in the regular way: at full retail + about 10% sales tax. Even if you have a separate battery, you cannot add your solar power to it, only purchased power. How does this offset one’s power bill in any kind of positive way the benefits you instead of TVA?

John Atkins
Guest

Behind the meter (not connected) is far better. To sell power to TVA, you must sell ALL of the solar power to TVA and buy all the power you need at full retail, plus sales tax, after paying federal tax on that money and investing $thousands in a solar system. eMail me and I will send you an analysis of the three ways you have to go with solar.

Judith Martin
Guest
Judith Martin

Could you send me your analysis. We are in the process of getting solar installed and considering the Gpp

John Atkins
Guest

Please send me your eMail address and I will send the analysis as an attachment Mine is [email protected]

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

I would like to see your analysis and thorough break down of how to set up “behind the meter”, thanks.

John Atkins
Guest

Dennis, I received an eMail you sent me through “[email protected] solarpowerrocks.com”. To send you the solar analysis you requested I really need your direct eMail address. Mine is [email protected]

John Atkins
Guest

George, batteries do not produce power. You’d have to get the power from somewhere, ideally from a solar system large enough to meet all your requirements. So, as a homeowner, unless you live so remotely that hooking up to TVA costs more than your off-the-grid power source, batteries will not save you money. HOWEVER, if you are a business and you pay utility DEMAND CHARGES, batteries alone are a well-proven way to shift your power consumption to reduce/eliminate demand charges that may increase your power bill by 40-60%. Solar + batteries is even better.

Steve McQueen
Guest
Steve McQueen

Hello, Can you supply us some Solar Modules with watt rating 300-320 mono? (1). Canadian Solar CS6K-270M 270W Mono Solar Panel (2). Canadian Solar CS6K-275M 275W Mono Solar Panel (3). Canadian Solar CS6K-285M T4 285W Mono Solar Panel (4). Canadian Solar CS6K-285M T4 5BB 285W Mono Solar Panel (5). Canadian Solar CS6K-305MS 305w Mono Solar Panel Your quick respond will be appreciate. Best of regards. Steve McQueen (Purchasing Manager) — Sincerely, Marketing Team Spring City Electric Technologies E:[email protected]

Ben Zientara
Admin

Hey Steve-

We don’t sell solar modules. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

Johnny O
Guest
Johnny O

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… Read more »

Dale
Guest

To be on the GPP program, you are required to have a NABCEP professional oversee, install and/or commission the system. You can install it yourself as long as you can find a NABCEP professional that is willing to oversee the installation and approve of it for commissioning.

John Atkins
Guest

There are several kinds of NABCEP training. TVA requires NABCEP certified installers. Some such contractors may let you/guide you do some of the work, but they will/should do the solar-specific work themselves.

John Atkins
Guest

TVA is only involved if you enroll in their GPP program (which expires 12/31/19) that mandates TVA buy 100% of the solar power produced. (You must buy all the power you need in the usual way). Thus, TVA, with a real interest to ensure the power they buy is compatible, have confidence that NABCEP certified installers know the peculiarities of solar. NABCEP does necessarily raise costs, but the training is expensive and requires measures even experienced non-NABCEP electricians may not know. You could install yourself and hope to find an NABCEP Installer to sign off (putting their certificate at risk).… Read more »

Rick
Guest
Rick

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.

Ben Zientara
Admin

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… Read more »

Michelle Smith
Guest
Michelle Smith

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

Ben Zientara
Admin

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: https://www.kub.org/about/environment/green-power/generate-your-own-power/

Thanks, and have a sunny day!
-Ben

andy
Guest
andy

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.

Dale
Guest

Interconnect rules do apply in Tn. They are dictated by the individual LPC (Local Power Company), not the State.

Rick
Guest
Rick

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,

Ben Zientara
Admin

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.

-Ben

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

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

Ben Zientara
Admin

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!

TnAndy
Guest
TnAndy

Ain’t gonna happen. In fact, as of 1 Jan 2020, the Green Partners program is history. TVA has made the decision they want no more small solar……only utility sized installs will be allowed in the future.

Ben Zientara
Admin

Unfortunately, you’re right about that. People need to band together and demand some action from the General Assembly on some common-sense protections and proactive help for homeowners looking to go solar. Like, stat!

Dale
Guest

GPP is expiring, but it looks like TVA is planning a replacement program. Word on the street is, it’s going to be single bi-directional metering similar to net metering. Hopefully the replacement program will be worthwhile.

tawana wilson
Guest
tawana wilson

how do we get solar n our town

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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.

Patrick Kilhoffer
Guest
Patrick Kilhoffer

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!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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,… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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

Dan Hahn
Admin

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

andy
Guest
andy

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.

Patricia Clements
Guest
Patricia Clements

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?

Jason
Guest
Jason

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

Jason
Guest
Jason

Yeah I am interested in solar leasing as well…

Andy
Guest
Andy

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… Read more »

Linda Doyle
Guest
Linda Doyle

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… Read more »

Forrest
Guest
Forrest

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

Lucy Charles
Guest
Lucy Charles

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!!

andy
Guest
andy

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… Read more »

andy
Guest
andy

Jay,

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.

andy
Guest
andy

JPWhite:

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:

$16,500

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

andy
Guest
andy

Lucas,

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.

Jay
Guest
Jay

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% (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,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… Read more »

JPWhite
Guest
JPWhite

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?

COME ON ALREADY!!

Lucas
Guest
Lucas

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.

Joe
Guest
Joe

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… Read more »

E. Field
Guest
E. Field

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.

andy
Guest
andy

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.

SHANNON W.
Guest
SHANNON W.

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… Read more »

Karlene
Guest
Karlene

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.

Eric
Guest
Eric

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… Read more »

Mark
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Mark

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]

TackyTeddy
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TackyTeddy

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… Read more »

Douglas Benton
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Douglas Benton

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… Read more »

Coty
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Coty

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.

Ge orge T
Guest
Ge orge T

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… Read more »

Troy
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Troy

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.

Dude
Guest
Dude

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!

Scott Kersey
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Scott Kersey

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… Read more »

Dude
Guest
Dude

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.

jack henley
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jack henley

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.

Gary Fletcher
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Gary Fletcher

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… Read more »

Rita
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Rita

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

Ken
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Ken

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… Read more »

Joey Eavey
Guest
Joey Eavey

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 it.solar & 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,… Read more »

andy
Guest
andy

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

andy
Guest
andy

jimmy-joe: 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… Read more »

Alan Ingram
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Alan Ingram

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.

jimmy-joe
Guest
jimmy-joe

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… Read more »

jimmy-joe
Guest
jimmy-joe

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?

jimmy-joe
Guest
jimmy-joe

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… Read more »

Ralph
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Ralph

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… Read more »

harvey walden
Guest
harvey walden

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… Read more »

andy
Guest
andy

Meredith:

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….

Meredith
Guest
Meredith

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?

andy
Guest
andy

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… Read more »

Richard
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Richard

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.

Jason Kirby
Guest
Jason Kirby

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… Read more »

andy
Guest
andy

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… Read more »

Chad C Payne Sr
Guest
Chad C Payne Sr

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.

Earl
Guest
Earl

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… Read more »

Ike
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Ike

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… Read more »

Earl
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Earl

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… Read more »

Jason
Guest
Jason

Andrew 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… Read more »

Leanne
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Leanne

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!

k
Guest
k

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

Ray
Guest
Ray

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… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

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.

Connie
Guest
Connie

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 system.how 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.

Matt
Guest
Matt

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?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

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.

Trey
Guest
Trey

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.

Ben
Guest
Ben

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… Read more »

Michael
Guest
Michael

Julio, 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.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

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.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

The government shouldn’t subsidize anything.

Bill
Guest
Bill

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?

Julio
Guest
Julio

Hi,
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.
Cheers.

Jack Bishop
Guest
Jack Bishop

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… Read more »

David Llorens
Guest
David Llorens

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.

Bill Hooker
Guest
Bill Hooker

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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