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April 08, 2014 | Tom Ballard

Mary Shafer Gill leading TenneSEIA

TenneSEIA 2(EDITOR’S NOTE: TenneSEIA will be holding a statewide briefing for members and stakeholders a week from today {3 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. CDT April 16} at the Baker Donelson offices in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. To register, click here.)

By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

East Tennessee’s Mary Shafter Gill is the new President of the Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA).

The Vice President of ARiES Energy, LLC, previously profiled on, says she has placed a top priority on recruiting solar companies as members, retaining them, and ensuring they receive the value that they seek.

To do so, TenneSEIA is focused on two targets – the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the agency’s distributors.

“This is a very critical year to provide input and show solar is a significant energy source,” Gill says of the discussions with TVA. These are centered on the agency’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), also described as its power generation strategy. The IRP is being updated this year.

TenneSEIA participates in the “Value of Solar Committee” that is helping better define “how much value solar adds to the grid.” The committee is working as part of TVA’s (TV-RIX) Tennessee Valley Renewable Information Exchange subset of the overall IRP process.

“We are continuing to push for positive programs at TVA,” Gill says, explaining that solar companies need a level of certainty to implement their business models.

This certainty also is important for TenneSEIA’s second focus area – local distributors.

The organization’s first female President describes TenneSEIA’s interest in distributors as “everything on their side of the meter.” Gill explains that distributors have the opportunity to determine their own strategies for solar energy generated by individuals.

“Most people currently sell the solar energy they generate to the TVA,” she says, but there are also several other possible end uses for solar-generated electricity, including consuming the power on-site. The solar industry plans to work with distributors, TVA, and all interested parties this year to determine best practices and standards.

“It’s a different model,” she says, noting that standards are evolving, but they are not necessarily consistent from one distributor to another.

“We have members up and down the solar value chain,” Gill says of TenneSEIA, citing manufacturers, installers, consultants and law firms in Tennessee.

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