“It’s a financed deal that’s hard to do in Georgia,” Jarrard said. The firm’s objective is to own and operate power plants, but they’re having to do it, for the most part, because a 1972 law doesn’t allow third party power purchase agreements with commercial entities. “The way the language is written we could be construed as a utility and there’s an anti-competition law on the books,” Jarrard said. That would essentially shut them down.
Because the two sites in Gordon County, one on Ga. 53, the other on Ga. 156, are in the Tennessee Valley Authority service territory and the North Georgia Electric membership Cooperative in Calhoun is a distributor of TVA power, Renewvia was able to work out a deal to sell power to TVA.
A Green Power Switch program offers to buy 100 percent of all power generated through renewable sources for as much as 200-kilowatt systems. A combination of both state and federal tax credits. Along with private investors, allowed Renewvia to put together a small fund to develop the solar array.
TVA guarantees to purchase the power for ten years at a 12-cent premium to the going retail rate. “Right now the retail rate is approximately 10 cents so we get 22 cents per kilowatt hour,” Jarrard said. The project on Ga. 53 is capable of producing 268,000-kilowatt hours of power.
The property off Ga. 53 is owned by H and H Farms, a poultry and cattle operation. For the 10 years of the agreement H and H Farms will get their power locked in at a pre-determined rate and then eventually will become owners of the solar farm after ten years.
Manufacturers of the solar cells estimate the solar farm could expect to have a useful life of 20-40 years. “Regardless, you have another 15 years of warranty after the 10 years on the panel,” Jarrard said.
Renewvia is not after mass residential systems, but is instead on developing smaller commercial systems. “We have been working very hard and have a financing solution for these 50 kilowat projects,” Domescik said. His partner said some of the carpet manufacturers in Northwest Georgia could benefit from rooftop systems.
Renewvia also operates solar projects in New Jersey and Arizona.