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Solar Panel Home in Union County

Solar Panel Home in Union CountyA Union County woman has built a new home that will not only generate electricity, but also reduce her utility bill.
Jennifer Mosher of the Keownville Community, recently became a participant in TVA’s Generation Partners program – a 10-year commitment designed to encourage small business owners and homeowners to install these sources – such as wind turbines and solar power – on their property. Under the program, the power provider will pay customers for the power generated.
Mosher, who recently constructed a new home in the county, said she found out about the program because of her interest in using solar power and making her home more energy efficient.
“I have been interested in solar panels for quite some time now and have done some research over the years,” Mosher said. “Toward the end of my home construction here, I did some on-line searching to find a local solar panels installer.”
Mosher said she found out about the Generation Partners program through a Carthage-based solar panel installation firm. Because her home is on the New Albany Light, Gas & Water grid, she was also directed to speak with LG&W director, Bill Mattox.
“Mr. Mattox had to do the rest with TVA, which turned out to take a little longer than expected,” Mosher said. “Since I was the first in this area to do a project of this type, there was a learning curve for everyone.”
According to Mattox, Mosher’s home does not run off of the solar power she generates. Instead, the system specifically allows her to become a power supplier to TVA.
“All the energy she uses is still provided through our lines, through our meter,” Mattox said. “So she gets billed for normal usage. With the solar generation, all the solar power she generates will go back into the system. TVA buys that power back.”
In other words, he said, the program serves as a distributed generation model, with Mosher and other participants serving as TVA energy sources.
“Instead of having a big central power plant, you have these small installations that put power back on the system,” Mattox said. “It helps TVA on other fronts, like with carbon credits, which helps offset their carbon footprint.”
For her generated energy, Mattox said, TVA pays her a 12-cent premium per kilowatt-hour (based on the use of 1,000 watts of energy per hour), on top of the regular price of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, which most customers in the area must pay.
“She may use, say 1,000 kilowatts a month,” Mattox said. “We’re going to bill her for that. Meanwhile, she may generate about 10 kilowatts a day and over the course of a month, she may generate about 300 kilowatt-hours. She’ll get paid the normal TVA price, plus the premium.”
He said the solar power is measured by a second meter at her house and she is paid based on an average of five peak sun hours per day.
“In the summer time, when there are more than five peak sun hours, she may be paid more, which could potentially cover the cost of the energy she uses from our system,” Mattox said. “However, during the winter, when the peak sun hours will be less, she will be paid less. But, over all, the system should more than pay for itself within the 10 years.”
That system, which includes a 12-solar panel grid tied with battery back-up (allowing her to use the solar power should she experience a loss of electricity), cost Mosher $23,320. Besides buying the solar energy from her, TVA will also pay her $1,000 to help reimburse some of the installation costs.
Mosher said, however, that her main reason for installing the solar panels was an environmental one – making her home energy efficient. The stay-at-home mother of two said its an addition to her use of composting, rainwater harvesting and using re-usable shopping bags
“I also built my house with 2x6’s instead of 2x4’s to allow for more cellulose insulation, bought a tankless water heater, and used LED and CFL lights throughout the house,” Mosher said. “They’re all nice energy saving options. Being in the TVA program is just a bonus because I would have bought the panels anyway, I just wouldn’t have saved as much money.”

By David Johnson of the New Albany Gazette
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