Solar in the Southeast: New Report Shines a Light on TVA’s Lack of Progress

Guest Blog | February 27, 2018 | Press Releases

Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]


Southern Alliance for Clean Energy held a telephone press conference at 11 am ET, Tuesday, February 27 to address any media questions on the report. A recording of the call can be found here.

Speakers Included:

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Bryan Jacob, Solar Program Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

John D. Wilson, Research Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy


Atlanta, GA – As solar energy development continues to expand in the Southeast, increasing almost 30 fold over the last five years, solar growth in Tennessee has flattened due to action, and lack of action, by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

According to data in the Solar in the Southeast 2017 Annual Report released today by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), when compared to utilities of similar size, TVA ranks last in solar procurement. Analysis suggests that TVA, despite being the second largest utility in the Southeast, is projected to fall even further behind through 2021.

Using the metric “watts-per-customer,” which looks at the amount of installed solar relative to the total number of customers served, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy offers a unique analysis, with detailed information at the regional, state, and utility level. The watts-per-customer metric provides an unbiased standard by which utilities and states can be compared and contrasted.

Current and Forecasted Utility Solar Leaders

Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Georgia Power are the region’s current solar leaders based on the 2017 watts per customer ranking. Looking forward, the report calls out seven utilities with the highest forecasted solar growth by 2021. Duke Energy Progress and Georgia Power both make this list, as well, along with South Carolina Electric and Gas, Tampa Electric, Duke Energy Florida, Jacksonville Electric Authority, and City of Tallahassee. These utilities each serve more than 100,000 customers and are noted in the report as “SunRisers,” due to their ambitious levels of planned solar growth.

Current and Forecasted Utility Solar Laggards

TVA is unquestionably placed in the category of laggards, or “SunBlockers”, those utilities who steadfastly stick with outdated plans for low levels of solar development over the next four years. The report identifies three major utility systems – Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Santee Cooper, and Seminole Electric Cooperative as poor performers in the Southeast.

TVA was an early leader in small-scale, distributed solar. Recently, however, not only has TVA failed to respond to customer demand for solar, they are aggressively using a self-regulated rate design process to undercut customer-owned distributed solar throughout the Valley. Additionally, the utility’s current Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which calls for between 150 and 800 megawatts (MW) of large-scale solar by 2023, represents a very low solar target for a utility of TVA’s scale. Forecast at just 125 watts-per-customer by 2021, TVA’s management commitment to solar is well below the Southeast average.

“Using the unbiased watts-per-customer metric, we are able to see which states and utilities are on track to continue bringing affordable solar to their customers,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Looking at the low performance path that TVA is currently on, coupled with their current rate change process that further undercuts solar development in their service territory, it is clear that TVA will need a serious course correction to avoid being in last place in the region.”


About Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at