The City of Knoxville, Tennessee is a partner with the U.S. Department of Energy on the Solar America Communities Project. Starting in 2008 with the “Solar America Cities” designation, Knoxville hosted workshops and demonstration projects, and saw over a 100-fold increase in local solar capacity in a 3 year time frame. In 2011, Knoxville led an effort to capture the State-wide DOE Sunshot grant, which focuses on standardization of the solar permitting process.
With 150 kW of publically owned solar and one geothermal system in place, Knoxville continuously contributes to the establishment and adoption of renewable energy technologies. Through these DOE partnership opportunities, the City of Knoxville created the Solar Knoxville Program to help promote solar technologies. The City focuses on removing market barriers through a comprehensive training and demonstration approach.
Building on the momentum of the Solar Knoxville program, the city allocated $250,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to create a first municipal third-party solar finance model in the Tennessee Valley Authority territory. Due to the complexity of the contract structure, this project took 2 years from concept to installation, and went on to win the Knoxville Chamber award for energy innovation in 2011. This project not only reduces GHGs, but has also spurred over 1 MW in local solar capacity, as other entities model the innovative financing mechanism.
The third-party finance arrangement (similar to Power Purchase Agreements, or PPA) will save the City $685,000 in utility bills over the next 40 years by generating 118,240 kWh per year. This project is able to offset the energy equivalent of 8 homes, and prevent 85 tons of CO2 annually.
By contributing to the progression of solar technologies Knoxville shows state and regional leadership, and provides an educational aspect for the community.
Solar Knoxville website
City of Knoxville website