How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in Tennessee
From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Ole Opry, Tennessee residents are volunteering their rooftops in the pursuit of clean energy made straight from the sun. Even without a robust state incentive program, residents here have taken to the skies, and are gaining national attention for the area’s commercial solar installations.
If you’re hoping to install solar power on your Tennessee home, you’ll want to consider your financial situation carefully—the Tennessee government does not offer much in the way of state programs to help you purchase panels or mitigate installation costs. That being said, thanks to a few incentives administered through local utilities, you can definitely earn back what you spend on your solar equipment, making solar a lucrative option for most area households. Here’s what you need to know, from panel productivity to local incentives, to get you started in your journey toward owning your own solar energy system.
Tennessee Solar Productivity
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has calculated state UV indexes across the country, in order to predict the individual solar potential for each state. The final totals revealed that Tennessee ranked about 16th in the nation for solar intensity, coming in with a UV index level of 0.85. By comparison, Nevada, the highest U.S. state on the UV index, received a 1.19 rating. That means Tennessee skies get enough sunlight, on average, to power a solar energy system for 4.5 to 5 hours daily, which can definitely put a big dent in residential energy bills.
Popularity of Solar in Tennessee
Despite the state legislature’s paltry solar incentives, Tennessee still manages to turn out quite a bit of solar power. In 2015 for instance, the state installed 11 megawatts of solar– a number that’s expected to grow significantly as more new commercial solar installations go live in the area. In total the Volunteer State has 129 megawatts of solar power installed, a number that places it 20th in the nation for solar capacity, according to industry estimates. Residents and businesses here have demonstrated a clear interest in renewable energy, and are earning themselves a sterling reputation for being clean power providers.
Average Tennessee Residential Electricity Use and Cost
The high proliferation of natural gas in Tennessee’s remote hills keeps electricity prices in the area low—residents here paid an average 2 cents less per kilowatt hour for electricity than the average U.S. household. That being said, utility bills in the area still come out higher than the overall average for the U.S. In 2014, Tennesseans spent almost $20 a month more, which as you can imagine can really add up over time. High usage is partially to blame—the Volunteer State is situated in an area that receives both heavy mountain snow in the winter and high summer heat and humidity, keeping heating and cooling costs in this area high. That’s why Tennesseans could benefit by taking advantage of solar energy, which can help mitigate costs and save residents money on monthly energy bills.
Installing Solar in Tennessee
Tennessee’s growing solar capacity has kept area solar installers busy—according to industry estimates, there are over 120 solar companies operating in the area, most of them based in and around Nashville. That means you’ll have plenty of options to choose from when you make the decision to install a solar energy system in your Tennessee home. However, if you’re looking to take advantage of alternative purchasing strategies like solar leases, you may have to look elsewhere. Due to the lack of incentives and rebates in this area, the large national chains that would offer these kinds of payment plans do not operate here.
Tennessee State Solar Support
Tennessee does have quite a few solar incentives, like a business tax credit and a solar excise tax credit—but these programs are aimed at corporations and other commercial entities, rather than area homes. However, the future of solar is still bright in the Volunteer State. In 2016, IKEA announced plans to install the largest solar array in Tennessee at the retail outlet in Memphis, a 1.46 megawatt system that will produce enough energy to offset 206 homes’ annual energy demands. Meanwhile, a solar power plant in Oak Ridge in East Tennessee was recently nationally recognized, receiving the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Sustainability Award.
Throughout Tennessee, leaders have been eager to offer financial rewards for area businesses that decide to offset their carbon footprint with a little clean energy, but much more reticent to provide the same sort of incentives for local homeowners. In fact, this state is one of the few in the nation that doesn’t offer net metering, a popular incentive that credits homeowners for excess solar power they return to the grid. Thankfully, however, local utilities have picked up the government’s slack, and a generous program managed through the Tennessee Valley Authority, a network of utility providers in the area, pays solar residents at above retail rate for the power they generate.
Still, without a statewide goal for implementing renewable energy and a wide range of solar incentives, the future of solar power in Tennessee is less clear cut than in some surrounding states. One thing’s for certain—with the price of solar panels and equipment plummeting, combined with better and more powerful solar cell technology, it won’t be long until solar is a household name in Tennessee and all across the US.
Tennessee State Solar Incentives
Tennessee lawmakers do not currently offer very many incentives at all for homeowners who hope to install solar power in their homes. However, there is one option you can benefit from when you install solar equipment in your Tennessee home:
Green Energy Property Tax Assessment: Investing in solar power equipment for your home is just that: an investment, and you’ll reap the value on your home’s property assessment. However, in Tennessee, solar households are exempt from paying any additional taxes assessed from the installation of solar energy systems, meaning you’ll get all the benefit on your valuation without any of the extra costs.
Tennesseans who install solar power in their homes can also receive an incentive from the federal government, as well. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit is worth up to 30 percent of a solar energy system’s costs, as long as that system is powerful enough to cover at least half of a home energy demands. Qualifying homeowners can receive the credit as part of their federal tax returns. To see if you are eligible, complete form 5695 along with your income taxes.
Local Tennessee Solar Incentives
Because Tennessee does not offer net metering, local utilities have stepped in to fill in that gap and have wound up offering residents a pretty generous incentive:
Tennessee Valley Authority Green Power Providers: Most Tennessee coops and electricity providers distribute energy through the Tennessee Valley Authority—and customers of those companies are eligible for a production based solar incentive. Through this program, solar households are paid at the retail value, plus a premium, for every kilowatt hour of power they return to the grid. In 2015, that premium was set at $0.04 per kilowatt hour. New participants can also receive a $1,000 rebate to help mitigate startup costs. Systems must be sized between 0.5 and 50 kilowatts in order to qualify. To learn more about this incentive, visit the program website.