Tennessee utility able to construct solar project thanks to TVA Flexibility Program


The Loudon Utility Board (LUB), through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Flexibility Program, has chosen Sunrise Energy Ventures to develop the 7.5 MW Dancing Horse Solar project, targeted for construction in 2022.

Set to be located in Monroe, Tennessee, in the north-central part of the state, Sunrise is developing the Dancing Horse Solar project with the aid of Earth-Right Energy, a Tennessee-based solar developer.

TVA’s Flexibility Program, launched in 2019, allows member utilities the flexibility to meet 5% of their power needs through local generating sources, like wind, solar, and natural gas, so long as they have a 20-year long term partnership agreement in place with TVA.

The program also covers distributed resources, meaning that, while not outright stated by LUB, the Dancing Horse Solar project will likely be a community solar project.

One aspect of the program that has caught attention is its 5% power need cap, as many of TVA’s member utilities have been asking for a greater commitment to renewables than what the company has demonstrated so far.

Jeff Dykes, president and CEO of BrightRidge, which provides electric and broadband services to Johnson City, Tennessee, told Public Power.org in 2020 that that the 5% mark is “just a start,” and that “It could become 20% at some point.”

When the program was initially launched, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also took issue with the cap and TVA’s assertion that higher levels of flexibility created revenue erosion and a higher risk to the company’s financial plan. While understanding that the Green Investment program is a different construct than the Power Supply Flexibility Proposal, SEIA pointed out that TVA had recently claimed that 212 MW of Green Invest capacity for the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) would produce carbon-free energy equivalent to 8% of KUB’s annual electric load.

Essentially, SEIA was curious why 8% was economically feasible under Green Invest, but the figure is just 5% for the Flexibility Program.

Once completed, the Dancing Horse Solar project will provide energy to power over 1000 homes across Loudon County and Monroe County.

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