Smith Family to Put Up Largest Solar System

Guest Blog | January 29, 2009 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. (January 29) – After more than 25 years spent educating the public about renewable energy technologies, Stephen and Libby Smith will soon own the largest residential solar system in the TVA Generation Partners program.

“Turning sunlight into electricity is part of the energy revolution I believe we need in this country and around the world,” said Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a non-profit organization that provides renewable energy options in the Southeast. “Solar power is also a key part of the green economic stimulus that is going to fuel our nation’s recovery. My family is proud to be a part of this clean energy revolution.”

The Smith’s 7.1-kilowatt solar PV system will include 36 198-watt Sharp Solar PV modules. With an output capacity averaging more than 700 kilowatt-hours per month, any energy that the Smith family doesn’t use will go back on Tennessee Valley Authority’s energy grid through the Generation Partners program. The Smiths will take advantage of the TVA program along with a 30 percent federal tax credit, two of the main solar incentives available for homeowners in Tennessee. Pictures taken during the installation process for this PV system can be found at .

The Smith’s solar commitment comes at an important time in Knoxville’s progress as a newly named partner in the Solar America Cities program, developed by the Department of Energy.

“One of the goals of the City of Knoxville’s Solar America Cities program is to simply increase visibility of solar technology locally. Better public awareness leads to more demand, and that demand fuels job growth,” said Madeleine Weil, Deputy Director of Policy & Communications for the City of Knoxville. “The Smith’s home is now the best local illustration of how East Tennesseans can use their own purchasing power to speed the transition to a clean energy economy.”

The Smiths, who both work at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Libby for 10 years and Steve for 17, have hoped to build such a solar example for years. Within the last six months they have installed a solar thermal hot water system and seven solar tubes to provide natural daylight in their home, all part of a solar renovation they hope will serve as an example within their community.

“Our neighbors already stop and kind of cock their heads. They ask about the panels and it opens up a conversation,” Libby said, referring to the interest she receives to their two roof top solar collectors, part of the solar hot water system completed in late November 2008 by Ed Zubko, owner of Green Earth Services. “I think it’s a testament to our life work and passion for energy conservation.”

The Smiths hired Zubko, a leading solar panel installer in Knoxville, Tenn., to install the solar PV system. ( )

“We’re excited to finally be true examples of the policies we talk about on a daily basis,” Libby said. “And as a parent, I’m very happy to give him (Libby and Steve’s son, Warren Smith) the opportunity to grow up in a home that uses energy wisely. He’s lucky to be able to grow up taking this for granted.” A photo opportunity for media will take place, 11 a.m., Thursday, February 5, during the solar panel installation at the Smith family home, dependent on appropriate weather. Please contact Christina Honkonen, communications manager, for additional information. For information about solar power technologies, visit the newly designed Address: 5443 Yosemite Tr. Knoxville, TN 37909

The Generation Partners program is provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority, powering a service area that covers 80,000 miles in the Southeast, including almost all of Tennessee and areas in Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Additional information can be found at their Web site, . # # #