TenneSEIA Announces Solar Champion Award


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November 17, 2016 Contact: Matt Beasley, 615-577-4616

Knox County Honored as 2016 TenneSEIA Solar Champion NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA), awarded the 2016 Solar Champion Award yesterday to Knox County, at the reception following the organization’s annual meeting at the Bradley, Arant, Boult Cummings, LLP office in Nashville. “TenneSEIA is proud to present our Solar Champion Award to Knox County for its leadership in solar within the local government community” said TenneSEIA Vice President Steve Johnson. “Knox County is a leader within government organizations in furthering the advancement of solar penetration in the state and ‘moving the needle’ in terms of innovative solar project models that benefit the school system and taxpayers.” “Our solar project is fiscally responsible, saves taxpayer money and makes good business sense for our entire community,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “This project will pay for itself and reduce utility costs, which means it’s good for our taxpayers and the environment.” TenneSEIA has been working closely with TVA, Local Power Companies (LPCs), local government officials, and solar stakeholders since the industry association incorporated in 2010. Local governments are integral to solar development in the Valley, as they own and operate a sizeable portfolio of buildings that that often could benefit from deploying solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Over the past year, Knox County has interconnected over 5 Megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity across a portfolio of 15 buildings, including 11 schools and the Knox County Central Office. Knox County’s forward thinking management, dedication, and leadership coupled with their commitment to serve the needs and priorities of all its constituents has provided a model for other government organizations to replicate throughout the State of Tennessee.

About TenneSEIA TenneSEIA is the state chapter for the national Solar Energy Industries Association, and represents the interests of the solar energy industry in Tennessee. The mission of TenneSEIA is to make solar energy a mainstream energy source and realize the full potential of the solar industry in Tennessee. The Association serves as the primary advocacy group for the solar industry in Tennessee. For more information about TenneSEIA, please visit http://www.tenneseiasolar.com/

Autonomous Cars or EVs? Why Not Both?

11.01.2016 – by Mary Kathryn Campbell

We’ve read a few pieces in recent weeks which seem to relish pitting autonomous vehicle technology against electric vehicles. One pundit even speculates that we should say “goodbye to EVs.”

We see a false equivalency argument between the problems that the two technologies solve. Electrified drive trains offer cleaner air, fewer parts to maintain, and most importantly, a break from the grip of fossil fuels. Autonomous, or self-driving cars, theoretically provide increased mobility, safety, and energy efficiency.

While the evolution of EVs has admittedly suffered starts and stops, the last decade has seen a steady rise in options for consumers. These commercially available production vehicles benefit from rapid advances in batteries, OEM manufacturing investments, and strong policies and incentives in many states, from California to Massachusetts, from Colorado to Tennessee, and many others. Manufacturers in Europe and the US are also striving to achieve regulatory goals which EVs help them meet. Thanks to all of these factors, and education and advocacy work by groups like Plug In America, more than a dozen vehicles are available for purchase in all 50 states, with two long-range, groundbreaking cars on the near horizon, GM’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3.

Meanwhile, the nascent autonomous vehicle sector is still in its infancy.

Google's self driving car

Google’s self driving car

Adding complication to the technologies’ development, clear policy mechanisms for autonomous vehicles have not been established or are still in the works. Most states have no regulations yet to address autonomous vehicles. Policymakers face an extremely steep learning curve with self-driving cars. Additionally, without an overarching federal approach, there is a great deal of room for conflict among states, which will also curb their deployment.

The final, and maybe the most difficult potential barrier to a fully automated fleet, in the US, anyway: the American consumer. Americans still love to drive. And the vast majority of American EV drivers cite the experience, the cars’ superior driving performance as a key reason for never returning to an ICE vehicle. Although the movement away from personal vehicle ownership is trending, changing user and consumer behaviors is often on an evolutionary scale: long and arduous.

All of this said, we see great potential synergies for combining these new models and modes of transportation. Tesla has taken the lead here, with autonomous tech standard in its Models S and X. Looking forward a decade or two, imagine car sharing networks of autonomous vehicles serving neighborhoods with notoriously poor air quality. Or widespread deployment of electric buses and trucks which will be automatically directed to the most efficient routes possible, all while mitigating the potential for catastrophic human error. We’d encourage pundits to look for ways to transform the transportation sector which will benefit consumers and the environment, not pick winners or pit markets against each other. We’d also encourage policy makers and car makers to look at combining these technologies, and even consider mandating that new autonomous vehicles be electrified.

What if my tax bill is smaller than my tax credit amount?

Using the example of the $10,000 solar system, the ITC amount you would be eligible for is $3,000. But what if your total tax liability for that year is only $2,000? Can you carry over the remaining $1,000 to the next year?

It is fairly clear in form 5659 that, yes, you are allowed to carry unused credits forward into the next year (see lines 12-16 of the form) – and possibly beyond. This means that your tax liability for year 1 would fall to $0, and you would have an additional $1,000 of credit to put towards the following year’s tax bills.

However, it is yet unclear whether you will be able to carry unclaimed credits in the years after the ITC is discontinued.

ITC three scenarios

Figure 1: Comparing how the ITC would apply in three tax liability scenarios: a) $5,000 annual tax liability, b) $2,000 annual tax liability and c) $0 annual tax liability. For simplicity’s sake, we assume that the solar system costs $10,000, making the ITC amount would be $3,000. In scenarios a) and b), the ITC benefits are applied over 1 and 2 years, respectively. In scenario c) the ITC cannot be claimed due to insufficient tax liability (meaning that a solar lease might be a preferable option to purchase).