If you want to know more about energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy management solutions, you’ve come to the right place. The Tennessee Energy Education Initiative provides training, tools, and potential funding options to help Tennessee organizations take control of their energy usage. Learn how we can help yours.

TVA’s Extreme Energy Makeover Project to Award $3.75 Million to Cleveland for Low-Income Housing Retrofits

TVA recently announced that it would award United Way of Bradley County a $3.75 million Extreme Energy Makeover Grant, to retrofit at least 300 homes in low-income neighborhoods. The grant, which is part of TVA’s Smart Communities program, aims to achieve a 25 percent reduction in each home’s electric energy usage through cost-effective, whole-home retrofits.

Cleveland Utilities will join Impact Cleveland as part of the makeover team, which also includes the Cleveland Housing Authority, CLEAResult, and the City of Cleveland. Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity will also provide support for the program, which is due to launch in April of 2016. Homeowners interested in learning more about the program can call 1-844-615-8321.

TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs, in conjunction with its subrecipient Clean Energy Solutions, Inc., has been providing no-cost technical assistance to the Cleveland Housing Authority since September 2014. This assistance has been provided under its U.S. DOE State Energy Program Competitive Award, “Stimulating Energy Investment in Local Jurisdictions, K-12 Public Schools and Public Housing Authorities,” and hopes to leverage a portion of the TVA Extreme Energy Makeover grant funding towards an Energy Savings Performance Contract for the Public Housing Authority, which will amplify the impact and energy savings of the funding.

Energy savings performance contracting (ESPCs)

An ESPC is a comprehensive agreement in which an energy services company (ESCO) performs an investment grade energy audit, and then develops, designs, arranges financing for, installs, and often operates and maintains energy- and water-saving improvements for a customer, such as a state, public housing authority, or local government. Unlike the conventional design-bid-build process of purchasing energy-efficiency improvements, which can require separate solicitations and contracts, an ESPC allows for a comprehensive approach to energy and water savings that is more desirable and cost effective than a single measure approach. The crucial benefit of energy performance contracting is that the agency can use future avoided costs from utility bills generated by the project to pay off the original investment, plus financing and maintenance costs, over the term of the contract, which can be up to 15 years.

Annual energy savings are contractually guaranteed by the ESCO. To ensure accountability, all ESPCs include a formal measurement and verification (M&V) plan that specifies procedures the ESCO must follow to demonstrate that the installed energy conservation measures are delivering the guaranteed savings. If the savings guarantee is not met in a given year, the ESCO must pay the agency the difference between the guaranteed amount and the actual verified amount. This savings guarantee places the risk of performance on the ESCO, not the agency.

Stimulating Energy Investment in Tennessee

Tennessee’s program, which officially launched in July of 2014, includes work to engage local officials in the benefits of energy efficiency and to provide free technical assistance related to cost-effective energy efficiency measures, such as building audits, Requests for Qualifications to qualify ESCOs, benchmarking, measurement and verification of energy savings, and procurements. In particular, the project helps local officials to explore energy efficiency financing options such as energy savings performance contracting, utility incentives, and utility bill repayments. The project period for this award program runs through early 2017. For more information, visit http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-doe-state-energy-program-2013-competitive-award.

New Report Assesses Environmental Impact of Widespread Vehicle Electrification

A new study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) modeled electric sector and transportation sector emissions with and without widespread vehicle electrification, to determine the environmental effects of vehicle electrification on overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

For the analysis on widespread vehicle electrification, the report makes the assumption that by 2050, electricity will replace roughly half of light- and medium-duty petroleum-fueled vehicles, as well as a significant portion of non-road equipment, such as forklifts and lawn mowers.

A Cleaner Electric Sector, Combined with Clean Transportation

Given the continued de-carbonization of the electricity sector due to existing and prospective regulations and the expanding deployment of low-emission generation technologies, the report forecasts GHG emissions through 2050, considering the high likelihood for clean generation sources to achieve significant reductions in overall electric sector emissions.

The report then assesses the possibility of further GHG emissions reductions, resulting from widespread vehicle electrification, as well as the continuation of improvement in conventional vehicle efficiency. With these two transportation-related elements, in addition to the de-carbonized electric grid, the report concludes that by 2050, total annual GHG emissions (from both mobile and stationary sources) could be reduced by 45-75%, relative to 2015 levels. Without the broad electric car adoption, however, emissions would be cut by only 25%, relative to 2015 levels.

Consequentially, the report notes that while electric vehicles are already cleaner than petroleum-fueled vehicles, with the development of a cleaner electric grid, electric vehicles will ensure an even larger portion of future greenhouse gas reductions overall.

Electric Vehicles in Tennessee

As part of last week’s National Drive Electric Week, the Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalitions hosted a number of events to promote increased electric vehicle deployment in the State of Tennessee, including ride-and-drive demonstrations that allowed individuals the opportunity to view and test drive various electric vehicle models.

The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition has also recently launched www.DriveElectricTn.org, which is a website dedicated to spurring the growth and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and electric vehicle charging structure in the State of Tennessee. Be sure to check out this website for blog posts, case studies, and useful resources related to electric vehicles.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs is also offering a two-tiered rebate on qualifying electric vehicles that are purchased or leased after June 15, 2015 in the State of Tennessee. As of September 25, 2015, there is $536,000 remaining in rebate funding. For more information, and for details on eligibility, visit http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-electric-vehicle-rebates.

Three New Sustainable Transportation Initiatives Get Off the Ground in Tennessee

TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs is proud to be a supporter of the following three initiatives, which are paving the way towards making transportation within the State of Tennessee more sustainable:

Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership

In August, Drive Electric TN, a Tennessee Clean Fuels initiative, was launched. The project aims to spur the growth, adoption and deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the State of Tennessee. One particular focus of this initiative is to promote the new Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership, in addition to the national version, known as the U.S. DOE EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge. These challenges are open to employers of all sizes and industry types in the U.S. whose charging stations are primarily for or include the opportunity for employees to use them. Companies that take on the challenge commit to install charging for PEVs at their worksites, thus playing a critical role in helping to build the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By signing on as a partner, employers gain statewide or national recognition, access to a peer-to-peer information exchange network on best practices and lessons learned, as well as direct technical assistance and access to related informational U.S. DOE resources.

Now in its second full year, the DOE Workplace Charging Challenge program’s initial goal was to increase the number of employers that offer electric vehicle charging tenfold by 2018. So far, over 300 work sites across the country have signed up to participate. Within the State of Tennessee program, the following companies and local governments have signed or are planning to sign on as Tennessee Workplace Charging Partners:

For more information on the Tennessee Workplace Charging Partnership, and to see case studies of active partners, be sure to check out http://driveelectrictn.org/tn-workplace-charging-partners/.

Southeast AFV Demonstration Initiative

The East TN Clean Fuels Coalition is a partner in the forthcoming “Southeast AFV Demonstration Initiative” grant (SADI), along with the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.  The project seeks to incorporate alternative fuels into new fleets and industry sectors by focusing on non-existent or under-utilized markets for alternative fuels.

The SADI initiative will make several alternative fuel vehicles (propane, CNG, and electric-powered) available for Tennessee fleets to borrow for periods ranging from several days to several weeks. By allowing fleets to test out these vehicles at no cost, the project will educate and market alternative fuel vehicles to a considerable number of prospective drivers/fleet operators. In the coming months, ETCleanFuels will provide more details and begin the process of registering fleets that are interested.  The following vehicles are expected to be available for Tennessee fleets to borrow:

  • EV = a 2015 Nissan Leaf
  • Propane = a bi-fuel liquid-injection Ford Police Interceptor Utility, and a bi-fuel vapor-injection Dodge Charger
  • CNG = a dedicated Chevy Cruze, two Freightliner Cascadia day cabs, and one Freightliner straight truck

Contact Jonathan Overly with any questions: jonathan@etcleanfuels.org, 865-974-3625.

Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research Center

Light electric vehicles (LEVs), which consist of low speed EVs, such as electric bicycles or scooters, are an understudied yet critical alternative fuel vehicle (AFV), as they represent the largest growth segment of AFVs in history, with over 150 million sold in the last decade.

The University of Knoxville’s Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research Center focuses its research on the role of LEVs in urban mobility, including the variables associated with LEV adoption, system integration, societal impacts, and related policy. This research center is initiating the formation of an international cooperative research center, focused on LEVs. For more information, visit http://tesp.engr.utk.edu/lever.php.

New Resources and Incentives to Save Energy at Home

Are you curious about what you can do to enhance your home energy savings? By way of the three below-mentioned programs, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and your local power company are making it easier for homeowners to conserve energy and lower monthly energy bills:

1. Take advantage of the TVA eScore™ – Home Depot “ellumination” event. For a limited-time only, customers are able to receive the following in-store lighting discounts:

  • $3.00 off per bulb on selected LEDs
  • $1.00 off per bulb on selected CFLs

Eligible bulbs are automatically discounted at checkout and are marked by an eScore Opportunity sticker in the lighting section of participating Home Depot locations. Customers are limited to 12 packages. This offer expires on September 18, 2015.

2. Take the eScore™ Self Audit at your place of residence. This quick and easy online audit will help you learn about your home’s energy use and provide recommendations to help you save money right away. Furthermore, all qualifying households that complete the audit will receive a free energy saving kit containing CFLs and other tools to help you save energy and money. As a bonus, homeowners who complete the Self Audit between July 16 and September 30 will receive a $10 Home Depot gift card in their energy savings kit.

3. Finally, TVA and participating local power companies are partnering to offer the eScore™ residential energy efficiency program. Customers who make a qualified energy efficiency upgrade performed by a Quality Contractor Network (QCN) member or a participating Home Depot retailer will receive an in-home energy evaluation by a TVA-Certified Energy Advisor, an online eScore card with a customized list of recommended energy efficiency upgrades, and access to rebates for upgrades made. Work your way toward a score of 10 while increasing your home’s comfort and saving money!

Visit www.2eScore.com or www.energyright.com, or call your local power company for more information.

Tennessee’s Energy Education Camps for K-12 Educators

For the past few years, the Office of Energy Programs has conducted summer Energy Education Camps for K-12 educators. These camps are comprised of four-day training sessions, and are chock full of hands-on activities that the campers can incorporate in their own classrooms or after-school programs to educate students about the science of energy and energy conservation. In particular, camp activities hone in on the collection and analysis of data so that teachers can show their students how to evaluate and improve their school’s energy consumption.

As “energy” per se is rarely offered as a distinctive course for K-12 students, the curriculum for the Energy Education Camps builds a unique framework of studying energy as it relates to the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects), bridging these subjects and encouraging students to pursue career paths in energy and related fields.

Educational info-board, created at Energy Camp

Educational info-board, created at Energy Camp

This year’s two Energy Education Camps were held at Pickwick Landing State Park from June 9-12 and at Fall Creek Falls State Park from June 16-19. The camps were offered to interested Tennessee educators free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and a total of 100 educators participated. In addition to addressing Tennessee science curriculum standards, the camps offered “team building” energy-related activities for teachers, such as an energy scavenger hunt, energy bingo, energy relay, the construction of solar ovens, and the creation of ice cream in a bag (a lesson in heat transfer). Furthermore, this year’s campers received educational products to utilize in their energy-related education lessons, including both Electric Circuits Kitbooks and Kill-A-Watt meters.

The Electric Circuits Kitbook, a Tennessee-made educational tool, merges the features of a hands-on science kit with those of a textbook in the form of a single self-contained educational

KitBook presentation by Ed Basconi

KitBook presentation by Ed Basconi

tool. With the Kitbook, students are able to study electricity and simple circuits by testing what they learn in each lesson on an actual circuit board, built into the book. The curriculum supplement was designed to meet National Science Education Standards and covers the following topics:

  • What is electricity; electricity safety; definitions
  • Simple circuits
  • Batteries
  • Conductors and insulators
  • Switches
  • Series circuits
  • Parallel circuits
  • Electromagnetism

Kill-a-Watt meters are innovative tools for measuring plug loads. At this year’s camps, OEP Energy Consultant Scott Slusher conducted an interactive lesson on measuring and reducing plug loads, and teachers used the Kill-a-Watt meters to measure various plug loads around the park. The lesson on plug loads was also shared with the teachers so that they can conduct similar demonstrations with their own students.

OEP plans to conduct two camps in the summer of 2016, for 100 total participants. The dates and locations for these camps are still to be determined. The application process will be announced on the OEP website on January 4th, 2016.

For more information, please contact Angela McGee at angela.mcgee@tn.gov or 615-532-7816.

Decreasing Costs of Solar Power

As solar technologies improve, photovoltaic companies have been able to lower installation costs while increasing overall quality. Solar power is already more cost effective than retail electricity in hundreds of markets around the world, and in some areas, solar has even contributed to the decrease of wholesale electricity prices by as much as 40 percent.[1]

The startup costs in the U.S. for solar power continue to drop, with the installation price for photovoltaic systems falling by 12% since last year.[2] Based on this, in 2014, the national solar industry grew by 34%, with the addition of almost 7,000 megawatts (MW) of new electric capacity.[3] At the end of the March 2015, more than 21,300 megawatts of cumulative solar electric capacity, which is enough to power 4.3 million homes, had been installed around the U.S.[4]

Tennessee’s Solar Research Initiative

In 2010, a $20 million National Science Foundation award financed the creation of TN-SCORE (Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research and Education), which, over the past five years, has resulted in 239 research publications, an additional $19.7 million in research funding and the creation of two start-up companies.[5] TN-SCORE has placed Tennessee on the map for cutting-edge solar research, while expanding the collaboration of leading experts and resources at research centers such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UT Knoxville, and Vanderbilt University.


Photo of the Westmill Solar Cooperative, courtesy of MrRenewables.

The program, guided by researchers at 11 partner institutions across the state of Tennessee, has served as a vehicle for collaboration between most universities within the State, middle and high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM ) programs, and industry representatives. A key component to TN-SCORE was the enhancement of solar research infrastructure. Among other things, the program financed the development of a rapid prototyping lab at UT Knoxville and the purchase of key diagnostic equipment to aid with the advancement of solar conversion and innovation, the development of components and devices for energy storage and conversion, as well as research into nanostructures for enhancing energy efficiency.[6]

Tennessee Solar Facts

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are more than 151 solar or solar related companies in Tennessee, employing more than 2,200 people.[7] In 2014 alone, $92 million was invested in solar installations in Tennessee, and 56 MW of new solar electric capacity was installed, ranking the state 15th nationally.[8]

Noteworthy installations in Tennessee include the VW Solar Project in Chattanooga, which has 8 MW of electric capacity and is the biggest solar installation at a U.S. auto factory, as well as the Selmer and Mulberry Solar Farms in McNairy County, which are tied, at 20 MW capacity each, for the largest solar installations in the State.

Curious to know more about solar power in Tennessee? Be sure to check out TenneSEIA, the State chapter for the national Solar Energy Industries Association.

Financing for Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure

On July 1, 2015, the National Association of State Energy Officials, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), hosted a workshop for State Energy Offices and Clean Cities Coalitions to discuss barriers and solutions for financing alternative fuel vehicles and fueling and charging infrastructure.

The workshop complemented the findings from NASEO research done on private sector financial solutions to alternative fuel vehicle deployment barriers, and provided an open discussion for relevant stakeholders to brainstorm the best avenues for implementing these funding opportunities.

The following information details some of the discussion points regarding electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure:

In the realm of EV charging stations, there are short term policies that State Energy Offices can help implement in order to encourage investment. However, in most cases, it takes layers of investment, from both the private and public sectors, to build a compelling business case for investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has developed an Electric Vehicle Financial Analysis tool, to help individuals evaluate the financial viability of EV charging infrastructure investments involving multiple private and public sector partners. This tool determines returns for certain investments over the expected lifetime of the charging equipment, based on up to 100 variable inputs. This tool is particularly helpful because it gives users the opportunity to run back-to-back scenario analysis, by which users can see tradeoffs with charts, helping them identify which variables will best improve the performance of their project. The tool is also unique in that it evaluates a variety of public sector interventions (such as low interest loans, grants or rebates) in terms of the business case or profitability of those interventions.


Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/

The research and modeling done with this tool has found that many compelling opportunities exist for installing DC fast charging along travel corridors to expand range, as well as installing Level 2 charging in neighborhoods that already have a high number of EVs.

Discussants at the conference noted that when evaluating the business case for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, you have to look beyond the direct revenue from charging, and should consider indirect value, measured in electric vehicle sales, retail sales for host sites, and increased tourism. EVs can also lower electricity rates with decoupled utilities, and alternatively, if utilities make a higher profit with increased electricity sales, the augmented use of EVs is also in their interest.

For a variety of case studies and more in-depth discussion on the AFV market state of play and the opportunities that exist, refer to NASEO’s report on AFV & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions.

Transportation Funding with AFVs:

Another hot topic of discussion at the workshop centered on sustainable transportation funding, by way of alternative fuel vehicles that bypass the traditional gasoline tax. As more and more AVFs enter the picture, the gasoline tax becomes less and less a reliable source for funding improvements to the country’s transportation infrastructure.

The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation has released a manual, which suggests an innovative way to approach transportation finance, and to address the shortage of transportation funding head on. VEIC proposes a model for a transportation efficiency utility (TEU), under which a system benefit charge or electric utility tariff on the electric power used by EVs is charged to the user’s bill, and the money is then pooled into a common fund, which is routed to transportation infrastructure funding.

In line with this, the State of Colorado has created a Special Fuel Tax & Electric Vehicle Fee, by which EV drivers are charged an annual registration fee of $50. Sixty percent of the fee replaces the revenue not collected from gasoline taxes and goes toward road and highway maintenance, while the other forty percent funds electric vehicle infrastructure such as charging stations.

Beyond an upfront registration fee, other states have considered implementing a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax. The 2013 Oregon Legislatures passed Senate Bill 810, the first legislation in the U.S. to establish a road usage charge system for transportation funding. The bill authorizes the Oregon Department of Transportation to set up a mileage collection system for 5,000 cars and light commercial vehicles beginning July 1, 2015. For those who volunteer to participate, the Road Usage Charge Program, also known as OReGO, will assess a charge of 1.5 cents per mile and issue a gas tax credit as warranted. Participants in the program choose from 3 vendors that provide either GPS or a mileage reporting device for measuring the total miles traveled.

For a full list of enacted, pending, or failed legislation by State on the subject, refer to this transportation finance database by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Want to stay up to date on sustainable transportation statistics and findings? Make sure to check out the U.S. DOE Vehicle Technologies Office’s Transportation Fact of the Week to read about interesting studies, datasets and observations regarding transportation and alternative fuel vehicles.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles for Emergency Planning & Response

The National Association of State Energy Officials has officially launched its Initiative for Resiliency in Energy through Vehicles (iREV), a national project that brings together key players in emergency management, energy assurance, homeland security and transportation in order to strategize best practices for heightened incorporation of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) in emergency planning and response. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs is proud to be a partner in this effort.

Why alternative fuel vehicles?

Emergency vehicles are essential in responding to critical disasters, moving obstacles from obstructed roadways, delivering supplies to cut-off areas, and rescuing citizens from dangerous situations. However, in times of emergency, disruptions in petroleum and electricity supply can prevent these vehicles from performing their critical duties. A diversified fleet that runs on a variety of fuels can act as a safeguard against these types of risk, and can bolster an emergency team’s response preparedness.

Propane-powered police car

Propane-powered police car

With support from the U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities Program, over the next two years, iREV will develop a package of customized tools, resources, and strategies for state and local emergency management personnel to reference when building out their AFV emergency response fleets. In particular, the iREV partners will work together to:

  • Develop case studies and the iREV-Tracking tool to help emergency planners access needed data and understand the potential benefits and costs of deploying natural gas, propane, biofuels, electric vehicles and other emerging technology in emergency situations;
  • Hold regional workshops to share key findings and demonstrate the iREV-Tracking tool (to be held in spring 2016); and
  • Work directly with states and localities to develop customized policy and planning toolkits that incorporate the use of AFVs in emergency situations.

AFV emergency response in Tennessee

To cite an example of an AFV at work during an emergency in Tennessee, the Middle Tennessee Gas Distributors Association (MTGDA) Emergency Response Trailer, known by many as the NatMobile because it runs on compressed natural gas, was christened into emergency response use at the end of February 2015 in Monterey following the massive ice storms that struck the Cumberland Plateau.

The Putnam County School System, through the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center and local natural gas supplier, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District, requested the use of the MTGDA Food Trailer to assist with feeding children in the community. A significant portion of the children in the area receive free or reduced cost lunches, and since schools had been closed for almost two weeks, the School System feared that these children were going hungry.

Approval for activation was quickly granted and several MTGDA members immediately offered their support.  Atmos Energy sent Operations Supervisor Kenny Hay to Sam’s Club in Cookeville and $1,000 worth of food was purchased by the “shoppers” from Putnam County Schools who met him there.  The Lebanon Gas Department arranged to have Jimbo Blair and Darrell Jones deliver the NatMobile in a new CNG-fueled truck, which “climbed right up the mountain without missing a beat.”

Lebanon and Middle Tennessee Natural Gas employees lit the pilots of the trailer and fired the burners.  They then handed it over to the nutrition staff from the School System, who set up the trailer and inventoried the food.  The School System used their school notification system to spread the word to their students.  Everyone agreed that while the project was for the kids, no one who was hungry would be turned away, and the natural gas companies of Middle Tennessee would continue to provide food until it was no longer needed. Providing a much needed antidote to the bitter cold of the ice storms, the NatMobile and the natural gas companies of Middle Tennessee made a huge difference to the community through their emergency response support and assistance.

TVA’s eScore as Innovative Home Energy Program for Increased, Marketable Efficiency

TVA projects that its load will grow by almost 1.1% annually through 2033. To meet this demand in a cost-effective way, TVA has identified energy efficiency and demand response programs as a key strategy in the public power producer’s overall resource planning efforts.[1] In the residential sector, TVA has launched an innovative energy efficiency program called eScore.

Green home. Photo courtesy of www.StockMonkeys.com

Green home. Photo courtesy of www.StockMonkeys.com

eScore is innovative in its customer-centric, technologically-enhanced and contractor-driven design. Developed on the principles of consumer science and market research, eScore allows homeowners to work at their own pace, re-engaging with the program as many times as needed over time to achieve their home’s best possible energy performance, a 10.  Customers can directly contact a TVA-certified Quality Contractor Network (QCN) member to begin making eligible improvements or they can first schedule an energy evaluation of their home for a fee. Following the evaluation, customers can select a QCN member to make recommended improvements. The program uses an integrated online platform that enables energy auditors to share real-time information via handheld tablet and allows homeowners to track their progress as they engage the program.

eScore is off to a promising start. Since it launched in December 2014, approximately 16,000 customers in more than 130 participating local power company service territories have registered for the program,  and more than 10,000 customers have participated by having an eScore evaluation or installing at least one recommended energy improvement. TVA has leveraged over $2.3 million in rebates to drive over $40 million in homeowner investment. The program has helped to save approximately 10.5 million kWh to date.[2]  Initial feedback from participants indicates a high level of customer satisfaction with both auditors and QCN members.

Alternative Home Energy Efficiency Programs

How does TVA’s eScore program compare to other home energy assessment offerings? The U.S. DOE, in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has developed its own nationwide Home Energy Score program, which relies on weather data from roughly 1,000 weather stations to incorporate climate variations into its 10-point scale home assessment. As with eScore, the Home Energy Score program allows homeowners to receive a comprehensive look at their home’s energy performance. However, the program is not linked to a specific set of rebates or incentives to spur homeowners to invest in energy improvements.

Similarly, the HERS Index, established by the Residential Energy Services Network, measures a home’s energy efficiency and informs consumers about the variety of ways in which they can reduce their home’s overall energy consumption. This relative performance score is often used in the real estate market, as a lower HERS score can command a higher resale price on a home.[3] Consumers looking to buy a house can rely on the HERS Index to anticipate the cost of utility bills and efficiency upgrades, in advance of closing on a house.

According to the U.S. DOE, about half of newly built homes and resold pre-existing homes each year are professionally assessed in terms of energy performance.[4] However, buyers and sellers often do not have easy access to this information, and are frequently uninformed about the relative energy efficiency of the home that they are looking to sell or purchase. All of the above-mentioned options are, therefore, key to closing the information gap and helping to expand access to home energy information nationwide. For more information on the U.S. DOE’s efforts to further develop the pipeline of reliable home energy information, be sure to check out the Home Energy Information Accelerator.

TAEBC Defines Scope and Scale of Advanced Energy Sector in Tennessee

On Wednesday, June 17, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council released an impact report on Tennessee’s advanced energy sector. For the sake of the report, “advanced energy” is defined as any technology that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure and more efficient.

Using research conducted by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the report is the first to define the scope and scale of the advanced energy sector within the State of Tennessee, providing a benchmark from which to measure growth moving forward.

The report highlights that:

  • In 2013, there were almost 325,000 jobs in the State’s advanced energy sector, comprising 13.6% of total statewide Tennessee employment;
  • The annual average wage in this sector was $48,764;
  • The sector contributed $33.4 billion to state gross domestic product in 2013, and workers in this sector paid more than $820 million in sales tax to state and local governments.[1]

Automotive Potential

Tennessee manufacturers benefit from a robust advanced energy economy. In particular, with one out of every three manufacturing jobs in Tennessee supporting the auto industry,[2] automotive manufacturers that are integrating advanced energy technologies into their processes contribute to a large portion of this activity. In response to higher fuel economy standards and mandates,[3] a lot of important research and development is taking place in this arena and is projected to take place in coming years.

Attractive for Business

Compared to other states, Tennessee has a disproportionate amount of jobs within the advanced energy sector.[4] This can largely be attributed to the relatively low cost of energy in Tennessee due to TVA and the large hydropower infrastructure, as well as to the reliability of power in Tennessee. In addition to this, Tennessee has a relatively low cost of living and advantageous tax environment, producing a recipe for entrepreneurial attractiveness.

Currently, almost 80 percent of advanced energy activity in Tennessee is located within only 20 counties.[5] As businesses create and leverage strategic partnerships with educational institutions and research institutions like ORNL to drive entrepreneurship and economic development, there is a huge potential to expand advanced energy activity into rural areas of Tennessee, creating new jobs and centers for innovative development.

Roughly 11 states have already begun to measure and track their advanced energy sectors. By jumping into the game, Tennessee can showcase advanced energy as an economic driver within the state, and can demonstrate to other states and outside investors that Tennessee boasts a globally competitive advanced energy economy.