This blog was written by Alissa Schafer, former Solar Policy & Communications Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | November 10, 2017
As the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) contemplates structural rate changes that would limit or prevent customer choice and fair access to affordable renewable energy, SACE was proud to join founding members of Tennesseans for Solar Choice who gathered in Nashville on November 8th, 2017 to launch a new initiative in defense of energy freedom and fair access to affordable, solar energy.
Founding members of Tennesseans for Solar Choice include:
Conservatives for Energy Freedom
Tennessee Small Business Alliance
National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA)
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE)
This diverse group of organizations plans to work together across political lines to ensure that TVA, as a self-regulating, federal monopoly does not make decisions that limit customer choice for residents, businesses, or Local Power Companies, through unfair rate structures or heavy-handed tactics that restrict the solar power market.
The coalition is a representation of the many voices currently being excluded from closed-door meetings where TVA staff are developing disincentives and road blocks for the growth of solar power and other customer-friendly technologies.
A press conference was held to mark the official launch of the coalition. A video of the conference can be viewed HERE and you can also read highlighted quotes from the founding members below:
Debbie Dooley, Tea Party Co-Founder and President of Conservatives for Energy Freedom, stated: “TVA is an outdated, federally-sanctioned monopoly, that appears to be working against consumer choice and energy freedom via regressive policies and ‘self regulation’ – a structure that is laughable at best and gravely concerning at worst. Their decision process happens behind closed doors, away from the eyes and ears of the very democracy they were established to serve.”
“We must actively protect Tennesseans’ right to choose solar energy and ensure that decisions made by TVA are fair for all consumers, both residential and commercial,” said Lenda Sherrell, State Director for the Tennessee Small Business Alliance. “Current policies and bureaucratic red tape are overcomplicating what should be a simple decision for businesses who desire access to affordable renewable energy to power their operations.”
“Solar choice is about taking the power back from monopolies who make decisions behind closed doors and instead giving that power to the people,” said Elder Jimmie Garland, Vice President Middle TN for the TN State Conference NAACP. “It is crucial that we support fair access to clean, affordable, healthy solar energy, and that we oppose discriminatory fixed charges that hurt people across the Valley.”
“Representing more than 150 companies, large and small, who employ over 3,500 people across this state, TenneSEIA’s mission is to make solar a mainstream energy source and to realize the full potential of the industry here in Tennessee,” stated Matt Beasley, President of TenneSEIA. “Working together, we believe we have an enormous opportunity to deploy renewable energy as a valuable tool to enhance Tennessee’s ability to recruit—and retain and expand—the more than 100 companies that have already pledged to be 100 percent renewable by the year 2025.”
S. David Freeman, Former TVA Chairman stated: “I’ve seen TVA evolve and progress over the years, but the direction they are currently heading in is concerning. TVA has both an opportunity and an obligation to the people of Tennessee to act as a leader, but they are instead lagging behind in solar, and this is not acceptable.”
“Tennessee is falling behind our neighboring states in growing the solar market and now TVA’s secret rate changes appear directed to add more market barriers,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “TVA should be embracing clean solar energy and working with customers as we move into the 21st century, not creating artificial road blocks with high fixed charges and other punitive rate structures designed to limit customer choice and block innovation.”
All coalition members believe that Tennessee has the potential to be an economic and renewable energy leader by embracing solar choice. If the power company monopolies won’t sell solar power, consumers should have the right to enter into a contract for solar power from someone other than their local power company or the TVA, and increasing the use of solar energy will position Tennessee as a forward-thinking leader in renewable energy, which will help businesses and prepare the state for a more sustainable energy future. Interested in learning more? You can learn more and get involved at www.tnsolarchoice.org.