Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced its 2019 Solar “Makers” and “Brakers” list highlighting key trends in policies and actions impacting the growth of rooftop solar across the sunny South.
The announcement coincides with the organization’s annual update of its Rates of Solar website, reflecting the most current utility solar policies in the South. The digital resource provides simple information about how utilities are treating rooftop solar customers.
The 2019 Solar Makers list highlights three examples of state, utility, and community actions driving rooftop solar progress in the region. This year’s Solar Brakers list casts light on the utility policy trends that undermine, and in some cases, completely put the brakes on rooftop solar as a cost-effective, clean energy choice.
Plummeting Payback Prices: TVA Devalues Solar Energy
- Many utilities in the region credit solar customers for excess energy pushed back onto the grid at a price well below the utility’s retail rate. Low payback prices make the economics of installing rooftop solar very difficult. While most customers are buying electricity at a price of more than 10 cents per kilowatt hour on average, they might only be credited a few cents per kilowatt hour from the homegrown excess solar energy provided back to the grid during sunny afternoons. This is true in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) territory, where the utility slashed solar credit values over the past several years and in 2019 decided to terminate its program altogether. Outside of the soon-to-be defunct program, TVA currently compensates for solar energy exports at roughly 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour and changes the export price every month – leaving customers without price stability needed to finance rooftop solar systems.