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A Tale of Two Calendars: Colonial Pipeline Explosion Causes a Second Gasoline Supply Disruption in Tennessee

By Ben Bolton, Energy Programs Administrator

November is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, which builds awareness and appreciation for the essential services that serve as the backbone of our nation’s economy, security, and health.  We know it as the electricity we use, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, and the communication systems that keep us in touch with friends and family.  These vital structures are a national security priority that requires planning and coordination at the regional, state, and local levels. 

Built in 1963, the Colonial Pipeline system connects Gulf Coast refineries with markets across the Southeast and East Coast U.S.  As the largest fuel-shipping pipeline in the nation by volume, it delivers 1.3 million barrels per day at 5 miles per hour along its route, terminating in the New York Harbor.   Colonial supplies more than 70% of liquid petroleum fuels (gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) to Middle and East Tennessee (Energy Information Administration, 2016).

Site photo by Alabaster (AL) EMA on October 31, 2016.

Site photo by Alabaster (AL) EMA on October 31, 2016.

On October 31, about 4:00 PM Central, a Colonial Pipeline contractor crew was working on Line 1 (gasoline) in preparations to reconnect the main line from the bypass installed after the September leak.[1]  A trackhoe struck a below-ground, 36-inch steel transmission gasoline pipeline and ignited the gasoline inside the line.  The resulting explosion injured six, where five were transported to nearby Birmingham hospitals and one fatality occurred.  The incident occurred near Pelham, Shelby County, Alabama, about 5 miles west of the September leak site, which led to the recent gasoline supply issue in Tennessee.[2] The pipeline rupture resulted in a discharge of approximately 3,300 barrels (138,600 gallons) of gasoline, yet, fortunately, water quality testing showed no fuel in the Cahaba River, about a mile from the explosion, or in a creek feeding the river.

For nearly four days, the remaining gasoline was allowed to burn to allow quicker access onsite.   During the September incident, the high gasoline vapor concentrations prevented crews from accessing the leak site for several days.  Colonial, in conjunction with the local Emergency Management Agency and Incident Command, continued preparations to repair the line and restart by that weekend.  The use of unmanned surveillance drones allowed a quicker and safer visual inspection of the site.

In response to the resulting gasoline supply disruption, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Office of Energy Programs’ (OEP) Emergency Service Coordinators (ESCs), Ben Bolton and Jason Carney, to monitor the situation.   (OEP is responsible for the  Emergency Support Function 12 / Energy (ESF-12) mission related to transportation and heating fuels as defined under the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan.) Throughout the disruption, OEP’s ESCs communicated frequently with petroleum industry stakeholders and engaged with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Emergency Assurance Coordinator network.  These activities allowed OEP to keep public sector partners such as TEMA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, various TDEC divisions (Office of General Counsel, Air Pollution Control, and Emergency Services) appraised of the market supply across Middle and East Tennessee and resolve any shortages.3-month-average-retail-price-chart

OEP worked with the industry stakeholders and partners to increase flexibility for sourcing gasoline to Tennessee.  On November 2, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture issued a waiver to allow a different blend gasoline (Class E gasoline up to 15 Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP)) to be used in Tennessee until November15, two weeks earlier than normal.  This action allowed retailers to transport gasoline from locations including Louisville and St. Louis into the state.

On November 3, the Tennessee Departments of Environment and Conservation Agriculture submitted a joint request to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue an emergency multi-state wavier of reformulated gasoline (RFG) requirements.  That same day, EPA issued the waiver through November 23 for select Clean Air Act-regulated areas within the affected states.  The RFG waiver also permits co-mingling of reformulated and conventional gasoline in the same pipeline for more delivery options.  For instance, Colonial was able to transfer gasoline upstream from the incident site into the Plantation Pipeline, which allowed deliveries to Chattanooga and Knoxville terminals.

Aerial photo of explosion site and surrounding wildfires (Jeremy Gray, AI.com, 10/31/2016)

Aerial photo of explosion site and surrounding wildfires (Jeremy Gray, AI.com, 10/31/2016)

Meanwhile, the gas associations released media statements urging the public to maintain typical fill-up behaviors, which allowed retailers to restock at normal levels.[3], [4]  The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office, released a statement saying after reviewing more than 600 complaints during the September incident, “Preliminary indications do not show a basis for price gouging” under the Price Gouging Act of 2002.[5]

TEMA and OEP discussed the different circumstances of this incident with media.  The shortages caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and by the Colonial Pipeline leak earlier this year both occurred in September when inventories are lowest to deplete lower-polluting summer blend fuel stocks and transition to cheaper winter blends.   Thus, inventories in early September 2016 were about 45 % less than normal when the previous Colonial leak occurred.[6]  Gas retailers reported the run of the pumps increased demand more than 50 % that next weekend.[7]  It is easy to understand why gas stations across Middle and East Tennessee may experience full outages during fuel disruptions in the month of September.  Average gas prices rose 10 to 30 cents per gallon in September 2016, yet gas prices only increased 6 to 10 cents per gallon during this incident.

The initial explosion resulted in 32 acres of forest fires (ABC 33/40, 10/31/2016)

Unlike the shutdown in September, Colonial repaired Line 1 permanently and successfully restarted it at normal flow at 5:45 a.m. CST, Sunday, November 6, only six days later.  The U.S. Department of Energy prioritized deliveries to Tennessee first to help prevent gas station outages, and within 24 to 36 hours, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville terminals received gasoline deliveries. As a result, inventory levels returned to normal a week later.

The State of Tennessee and gasoline wholesalers worked around the clock to keep this critical infrastructure system supplied with the fuel we all need.

ABOUT EMERGENCY SUPPORT FUNCTION (ESF) 12 (ENERGY ASSURANCE):

Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health (CTEH®) employee Don Warren monitoring air quality at the incident site (Colonial, 11/2/2016)

Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health (CTEH®) employee Don Warren monitoring air quality at the incident site (Colonial, 11/2/2016)

Emergency Support Functions are mechanisms developed under the National Response Framework to provide federal, state, and local governments a common language and organization structure for responding to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other catastrophic events. Each of the 15 ESFs has a corresponding organization or agency tasked with overseeing the preparedness, response, and recovery phases of incident management. Tennessee was one of the first to integrate the ESF concept and TEMA was tasked to manage the activities of the ESCs.

The purpose of ESF-12 Energy is to facilitate energy assurance in areas of the State affected by an emergency.  While TVA is responsible for electricity generation and the electric grid, OEP has primary responsibility for monitoring the status of the transportation and heating fuel distribution network, and, if necessary, coordinating the State response to fuel disruptions. Working with our public sector partners, such as TEMA, the Governor’s Office, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and Insurance, and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the State is able to convene the necessary government agencies and private sector stakeholders to ensure a continuous supply of transportation and heating fuels to citizens throughout the State.

If you would like to learn more about ESF-12, please contact ben.bolton@tn.gov (Primary ESC for ESF 12).

Anticipated delivery times after Colonial successfully restarted Line 1 (Colonial Pipeline, 11/06/2016)

Anticipated delivery times after Colonial successfully restarted Line 1 (Colonial Pipeline, 11/06/2016)

[1] Colonial Pipeline. (2016, November 6) Alabama Response Incident Update

[2] Energy Information Administration. (2016, November 3) Major gasoline pipeline in Southeast disrupted for second time in two months

[3] Arrandondo, Briona, and Heather Hourigan. WSMV Nashville (2016, November 1) Drivers urged to continue normal fuel habits following pipeline explosion.

[4] Christen, Mike. The Daily Herald (2016, November 1) Alabama gas pipeline in flames, drivers urged to avoid run on fuel.

[5] Alvarez, Matt. Fox17 Nashville (2016, November 3)  TN Officials: No basis for price gouging after September Colonial Pipeline break.

[6] Sisk, Chaz. WKNO NPR (2016, November 4) A Look at the Calendar may help explain why the latest pipeline breach hasn’t caused panic.

[7] Siner, Emily. WKNO NPR (2016, September 23) How a gas shortage got worse with panic buying.

—–

[Updated on December 1, 2016, to clarify U.S. Department of Energy’s role in the response.]

State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP)

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

While some may remember the ice storms that struck the Cumberland Plateau after Valentine’s Day in 2015, few likely know of the impact felt by Tennessee’s poultry industry. In an odd confluence of events – a very wet Midwest using propane to dry corn crops, the normal shift of moving stored propane into the Northeast, and extremely cold weather – created a distribution problem for propane.   Plenty of supply existed elsewhere, but the increased demand experienced during the ice storm led to distribution companies running critically low in Tennessee.

The low propane supplies became problematic for the poultry industry in Tennessee, as many commercial poultry operations rely on propane to heat their poultry facilities. According to the Tennessee Poultry Association, icy road conditions also made it difficult to deliver feed for the birds in 1,650+ commercial houses located in 550+ family farms across the state.

In response, the Office of Energy Programs’ (OEP) Emergency Service Coordinators (ESCs) were activated by TEMA and worked closely with the Tennessee Propane Association and Tennessee Poultry Association to keep propane supplied to the poultry industry. (OEP is responsible for the Emergency Support Function 12 / Energy (ESF-12) mission related to transportation and heating fuels as defined under the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan.) At the request of these industries and the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association, OEP and TDEC Office of General Counsel collaborated with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation to structure a request to the Governor’s Office to provide increased flexibility for supplying propane and animal feed. On February 18, 2015, Governor Haslam signed Executive Orders 43 and 45 declaring a State of Emergency for the purpose of waiving federal hours of service requirements for commercial drivers. These declarations ensured uninterrupted delivery of necessary food supplies, animal feed and heating fuels to Tennesseans.

While working with numerous Southern states that winter to address propane concerns, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) determined that the South uses nearly as much propane for agricultural heating as the Midwest uses for home heating.[1] (EIA is the federal agency responsible for collecting, analyzing, and distributing impartial energy information about electricity and fuels such as petroleum, heating oil, and propane.) Afterward, EIA expanded the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP) from 24 to 38 states, with the additions mainly in the South. SHOPP participants collect weekly residential heating oil and propane prices at the state level from October through March. Industry analysts, policymakers, and consumers use this data to better predict propane supplies and anticipate possible disruptions.

Distribution of primary home heating sources by region (EIA).

Distribution of primary home heating sources by region (EIA).

Tennessee joined the SHOPP effort in the fall of 2014. Data collection in Tennessee is a cooperative effort between OEP and EIA. OEP makes the individual calls to selected suppliers and reports it to EIA, which provides weekly status reports tracking pricing and state inventory levels. OEP also maintains valuable relationships with the Tennessee Poultry Association and the Tennessee Propane Association in order to know the status of propane use and storage.

EIA presented their Winter Fuels Outlook webinar on October 13. Average U.S. household energy expenditures are projected to increase from last winter; EIA projects bills during the upcoming winter heating season could increase by 26% for propane and 22% for natural gas. Overall, EIA expects households using propane to spend less on heating this winter than in eight of the past ten winters, but more than last winter. For EIA’s Heating Oil and Propane Updates, see http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/heatingoilpropane/.

To learn more about Propane in the Agriculture Market, take a look at the presentation by Mike Caldarera of the National Propane Gas Association.

ABOUT EMERGENCY SUPPORT FUNCTION (ESF) 12 (ENERGY ASSURANCE):

Emergency Support Functions are mechanisms developed under the National Response Framework to provide federal, state, and local governments a common language and organization structure for responding to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other catastrophic events. Each of the 15 ESFs has a corresponding organization or agency tasked with overseeing the preparedness, response, and recovery phases of incident management. Tennessee was one of the first to integrate the ESF concept and TEMA was tasked to manage the activities of the ESCs.

The purpose of ESF-12 Energy is to facilitate energy assurance in areas of the State affected by an emergency. While TVA is responsible for electricity generation and the electric grid, OEP has primary responsibility for monitoring the status of the transportation and heating fuel distribution network, and, if necessary, coordinating the State response to fuel disruptions. Working with our public sector partners, such as TEMA, the Governor’s Office, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and Insurance, and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the State is able to convene the necessary government agencies and private sector stakeholders to ensure a continuous supply of transportation and heating fuels to citizens throughout the State.

If you would like to learn more about ESF-12, please contact ben.bolton@tn.gov (Primary ESC for ESF-12).

[1] Specifically, the East South Central states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama use propane for agricultural heating nearly as much as the much colder East North Central states of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri use it for residential heating. (EIA SHOPP Workshop, July 13, 2016).

City of Bristol Energy Efficiency Assistance Program

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

Everyone can benefit from reduced energy costs achieved through energy efficiency. However, for low- to moderate- income households, the cost savings can have a pretty significant impact on a household’s overall budget. For example, a 2008 report found that while the average U.S. household spends 4% of income on home energy costs, low-income families spend 17% of their annual income on energy expenditures. For these families, cost savings from energy efficiency can mean the difference between going into debt (or choosing what to forgo for the month) and being able to pay for investments like education.

In March of 2014, TDEC entered into a grant contract with the City of Bristol’s Department of Economic and Community Development to design, develop and deliver the Energy Efficiency Assistance Program (EEAP), a grant initiative to provide qualifying low- to moderate-income homeowners with a free in-home energy evaluation, a customized implementation plan by the local utility, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES), and up to $20,000 in financial assistance to install recommended energy efficiency upgrades.

EEAP was funded by a Clean Air Act settlement agreement between King Pharmaceuticals, LLC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and TDEC.

With a goal of customer-focused service, Bristol Community Development Specialist Donna Malone, TDEC OEP’s Angela McGee, and TDEC OSP’s Jan Compton collaborated to ensure that a total of 47 homes were upgraded by the close of the program on June 30, 2016. Under this program, a total of 442 windows, 84 doors, 21 refrigerators, and 8 carbon monoxide detectors were replaced. Electrical upgrades were completed on 24 homes, and 43 homes received new insulation.  HVAC upgrades were completed on 30 homes.  Of these 30 homes, 25 were using kerosene heaters and/or burning wood either because their HVAC had stopped working or did not function properly.

Residents provided feedback both during and after the contract work at each home. The two primary contractors, Associated Builders and Redpoint LLC, received high accolades for their work, customer service, professionalism, and dependability from all homeowners participating in the program.

For more information on EEAP and its accomplishments, please contact Angela McGee at Angela.McGee@tn.gov.

 

 

OEP Conducts Energy Education Camps for K-12 Educators

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

Energy plays an important role in so many aspects of our lives, from heating and cooling homes, lighting classrooms, and powering computers, to fueling passenger vehicles and the various modes of transportation that deliver food and consumer goods. Yet in many K-12 schools, there typically isn’t a dedicated “energy class” that teaches students about topics like electric circuitry, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy resources, or different types of energy generation and alternative fuels. This is partially due to the fact that energy is an inherently interdisciplinary topic. Concepts fundamental to understanding energy arise in nearly all, if not all, academic disciplines. Because of this, teachers have the opportunity to incorporate energy awareness into their lesson plans in a variety of ways, taking creative approaches to spread energy literacy amongst their students.

Building a fuel cell car

Building a fuel cell car

This past June, TDEC OEP hosted two Energy Education Camps for K-12 educators at Montgomery Bell State Park and Pickwick Landing State Park. The camps, which drew a total of 100 educators from across the State, were comprised of five-day training sessions and activities. Information and resources were provided to teach the science of energy and energy conservation in the classroom.

The camps focused on ways to create real-world situations in the classroom and to collect and analyze data, in order to allow students and teachers to evaluate and improve their school’s energy usage. In addition, special breakout sessions were conducted with grade-level clusters to ensure that all participating teachers left the camps with ideas ready for their classrooms. One of these breakout sessions focused on plug loads and how to develop an action plan to stop wasting energy in the classroom, with the hope that schools can reprogram savings into school budgets for energy upgrades, classroom materials, or teachers’ salaries. Teachers participated in a hands-on activity to explore ways to save energy at school by investigating electricity consumption of common devices and determining ways to reduce it.

The camps also offered “team building” activities for teachers, such as energy bingo and the construction of solar ovens. Furthermore, campers received educational products to utilize in their lessons, including Electric Circuits Kitbooks, Kill-A-Watt meters, model fuel cell cars, and solar education kits.

Kitbook presentation

Kitbook presentation

The Electric Circuits Kitbook, a Tennessee-made educational product, merges the features of a hands-on science kit with those of a textbook in the form of a single self-contained 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. At this year’s Energy Education Camps, the creators of the KitBook gave a presentation to demonstrate how the KitBook is intended to be used and how the tool can be incorporated into lesson plans.

PY 2016 – 2017 Energy Camp/Workshop Activities

From October 2016 – September 2017, OEP plans to conduct two Energy Camps and six Energy Camp Workshops. Energy Camps will be comprised of three-day training sessions and activities and will be offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Energy Camp workshops will be comprised of one-day or half-day training sessions and activities and will be offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. As dates and locations are finalized, they will be posted to OEP’s website here: http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-teen-energy-camps-workshops.

For more information on 2016-2017 Energy Camps and Workshops, please contact Angela McGee at angela.mcgee@tn.gov or 615-532-7816.

2016 NEED Youth Award Winners Announced

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

One of the steps to ensuring a more energy conscious society is educating our students so that they are aware of the ways in which energy can be generated, transmitted, and distributed, but also the ways in which it can be utilized more efficiently. With a basic understanding of energy, individuals and communities can make more informed decisions on topics ranging from smart energy use at home to energy policy.

Energy is an inherently interdisciplinary topic. Concepts fundamental to understanding energy arise in nearly all, if not all, academic disciplines. Because of this, teachers can incorporate energy awareness into their lesson plans in a variety of ways, taking creative approaches to spread energy literacy amongst their students.

The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project is dedicated to promoting an energy conscious and educated society by creating effective networks of students, educators, business, government and community leaders to design and deliver objective, multi-sided energy education programs. The NEED Project’s educator network includes over 65,000 classrooms nationwide who use NEED’s annually up-dated curriculum materials.

Lipscomb Academy wins National Primary School of the Year Award

Lipscomb Academy wins National Primary School of the Year Award

TDEC OEP is the state coordinator for the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project in Tennessee. NEED works with energy companies, agencies, and organizations to bring balanced energy programs to the nation’s schools with a focus on strong teacher professional development, timely and balanced curriculum materials, signature program capabilities and turn-key program management.

For the annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement competition, schools combine their energy education activities for the year and submit an electronic scrapbook of their efforts. State winners are selected and submitted for judging at the national level. Since the program’s inception, Tennessee has always had national winners.

This year, OEP selected the following schools as State NEED Project winners:

  • Lipscomb Academy Elementary School (State Primary School of the Year)
  • Michie Elementary School (State Elementary School of the Year)
  • Volunteer High School (State Senior Rookie of the Year)
  • Fayette Academy (State Senior School of the Year)

NEED announced the 2016 national award winners and finalists on May 2, 2016. Lipscomb Academy Elementary School won the National Primary School of the Year award, Michie Elementary School was named National Elementary Runner Up, Volunteer High School won the National Senior Rookie of the Year award and Fayette Academy won the National Senior School of the Year award.

Congratulations to all of Tennessee’s energy conscious students and teachers! For more information on the NEED Project, visit http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-need.

TDEC OEP’s First Graduating Class of Professional Energy Managers

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

Effective energy management can help reduce energy consumption across a portfolio of building stock, minimizing energy costs and mitigating environmental effects. In fact, most organizations can achieve annual energy savings of at least 2-10 percent through better energy management practices.

This past spring, TDEC OEP provided its first ever tuition-free Professional Energy Manager (PEM) training to employees from local and state government, as well as from state colleges and public schools. This unique professional development opportunity helps to enhance the knowledge of the energy management field, and is in line with the long-term goals of the EmPower TN initiative.[1]

The coursework of the PEM training enables energy professionals to understand and implement energy efficiency solutions in buildings, industrial plants, and data centers. PEM is one of the longest-running energy management training programs in the world and offers a credible credential to complement an individual’s professional experience.

Group image of the 2016 EmPower TN PEM Program cohort

Group image of the 2016 EmPower TN PEM Program cohort

A few of the topics covered during the training include: energy modeling and calculations, HVAC systems, electric utility rates and calculations, how to establish an effective energy management program, codes and standards, legislation, energy assessments and instrumentation, natural gas procurement, and renewable energy. Upon passing the final exam, participants earn a nationally recognized designation of Professional Energy Manager through the Institute of Energy Professionals.

26 participants completed the training, and each passed the exam. As part of the training, each participant is required to create a strategic energy plan that can be implemented in a facility they oversee or for clients they serve.  TDEC OEP looks forward to seeing the results these plans will yield, as well as the continued impact of program participants’ work.

TDEC OEP will offer this professional development opportunity again in 2017. Eligible participants include employees of state or local government, k-12 schools, utilities, non-profits, and NGOs who provide energy management related technical assistance (e.g., audits, strategic energy planning, energy project / program development and implementation) to the public, commercial, and/or industrial sectors. The application window is now open and applications submissions are due by 5:00 pm Central on December 12, 2016. To access the application and to view details related to the training session location and dates, click here. For program-related questions, please contact Jaclyn Mothupi at Jaclyn.Mothupi@tn.gov.

[1] The EmPower TN Initiative is Governor Bill Haslam’s statewide “lead-by-example” initiative to reduce energy costs and consumption across State owned and managed buildings and facilities by measuring and controlling energy use, investing in improved energy efficiency, creating an operational environment of excellence, and promoting energy cost savings across the State through conservation and efficiency in local government and the private sector.

TDEC OEP Announces Grant Funding for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Natural Gas and Propane-Powered Vehicles

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

In Tennessee, the transportation sector accounts for about 30 percent of all energy consumed. Of this, the energy use of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles represents one of the largest and fastest growing shares of transportation energy demand. TDEC OEP identified this growth in demand and energy use as a huge opportunity for improved efficiency, through the use of cleaner burning, domestically produced alternative fuels. On Tuesday, October 11, TDEC OEP launched a grant program to incentivize the purchase of dedicated natural gas or propane-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by Tennessee fleets. The Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program will help to spur the reduction of transportation related end-use energy consumption, while also reducing emissions.

Why Natural Gas and Propane?

East Tennessee Clean Fuels Director Jonathan Overly, standing next to a natural gas vehicle at the CNG USA rally stop in Trenton, TN

East Tennessee Clean Fuels Director Jonathan Overly standing next to a natural gas vehicle at the CNG USA rally stop in Trenton, TN

The advantages of natural gas and propane as alternative fuels include their domestic availability, widespread and expanding distribution infrastructure, and clean-burning qualities.[1] Furthermore, natural gas and propane-powered vehicles can save a fleet tens of thousands of dollars in fuel savings over the lifetime of the vehicle, compared to conventional gasoline or diesel. While the vehicles may cost more than their conventional fuel counterparts on the front end, high mileage fleets often recover the incremental cost over the lifetime of the vehicle through fuel savings and lower operational costs. Natural gas and propane-powered vehicles are also well suited for medium- and heavy-duty applications, as they can match the equivalent gasoline or diesel vehicles in terms of their horsepower, torque, and towing capacity. Lastly, natural gas and propane-powered vehicles have the potential to help communities during system-wide emergencies, when gasoline and diesel supply disruptions might occur. Building resilience by diversifying fleets can ensure that the necessary emergency services will be performed.

Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program

Under the Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program, $2,500,000 in grant funding will be made available for qualifying Tennessee-based fleets. Each grant will provide up to 50% of the incremental purchase cost of eligible vehicles, with a maximum grant of $25,000 for each eligible vehicle. The maximum amount that may be awarded to a grantee shall not exceed $250,000.

ELIGIBILITY:

  • A project must propose to receive funding for a minimum of three vehicles.
  • Eligible vehicles must be purchased new, from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or OEM-authorized dealer. The vehicles purchased must be fully equipped by the manufacturer or by a third party at the direction of the manufacturer to operate on an alternative fuel prior to the initial purchase and registration of the vehicle.
  • Vehicles must be registered within the State of Tennessee, unless the vehicle is to receive International Registration Plan (IRP) apportioned registration. In the case of the latter, the entity applying for a grant must submit a letter, certifying the percentage of time that the vehicle is expected to operate within the State of Tennessee.
  • Eligible vehicles include dedicated compressed natural gas vehicles, dedicated liquefied natural gas vehicles, and dedicated propane-powered vehicles.
  • Vehicles must be classified as “medium-duty” or “heavy-duty,” and must therefore have a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 14,000 pounds. Examples of “medium-duty” vehicles that would be considered eligible are shuttle buses, delivery trucks, and some bucket trucks. Examples of “heavy-duty” vehicles that would be considered eligible are school buses, tractor trailers, and waste collection vehicles.
  • Applicants must intend to maintain operations in Tennessee for a minimum of six years.

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT:

Applications must be received by 8:00 pm CST on December 16, 2016. Awards are expected to be announced by January 16, 2017, and the expected timeframe for award negotiations will be March 2017.

For more information, and to access the Application and Application Manual, click here. If you have questions, please contact Alexa Voytek at alexa.voytek@tn.gov or 615-532-0238.

[1] Natural gas emits approximately 6%-11% lower levels of harmful emissions than gasoline throughout the fuel life cycle. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/natural_gas_emissions.html. The use of propane instead of gasoline can lower harmful emissions by up to 25 percent: http://www.npga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1840.

Office of Energy Programs Monitors Gasoline Supply Disruption in Tennessee

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

The Colonial Pipeline system connects Gulf Coast refineries with markets across the Southeast U.S., terminating in the New York Harbor. As the largest fuel-shipping pipeline in the nation by volume, it supplies more than 70% of transportation fuels for the Southeast (GA, SC, NC, TN, and VA). A spur from Atlanta provides gasoline and distillate (diesel and jet fuel) for Middle and East Tennessee (EIA, 2012). Knoxville and Chattanooga also receive supply from the Plantation Pipeline, owned by Kinder-Morgan (map).

weekinpetroleum

Image Source: EIA, This Week in Petroleum, 21 September 2016. http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/weekly/.

On September 9, at 4:15 PM CDT, Colonial Pipeline announced that it had shut down its gasoline (Line 1) and distillate (Line 2) pipelines to investigate a system integrity issue. That morning, an Alabama Department of Environmental Management mining inspector reported the smell of gasoline south of Birmingham, Alabama, in the Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area.  A leak, which is currently estimated to have released 250,000 to 330,000 gallons of gasoline, was identified in Line 1.  Line 2 was restored to full service within 24 hours.  Colonial began to construct a bypass of Line 1 and ultimately restored service 12 days later.  In the interim, gas supplies in Middle and East Tennessee tightened.  This remained the case until September 30, 2016.

In response to the resulting gasoline supply disruption, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Office of Energy Programs’ (OEP) Emergency Service Coordinators (ESCs), Ben Bolton and Jason Carney, to monitor the situation. (OEP is responsible for the  Emergency Support Function 12 / Energy (ESF-12) mission related to transportation and heating fuels as defined under the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan.) Throughout the disruption, OEP’s ESCs communicated frequently with petroleum industry stakeholders and engaged with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Emergency Assurance Coordinator network. These activities allowed OEP to keep public sector partners such as TEMA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, various TDEC divisions (Office of General Counsel, Air Pollution Control, Emergency Services) apprised of the market supply across Middle and East Tennessee and resolve any first responder shortages.

OEP worked with the abovementioned stakeholders and partners to structure a request to the Governor’s Office to provide increased flexibility for sourcing gasoline. On September 17, Governor Haslam signed Executive Order 56, declaring a State of Emergency in order to waive the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service limits for truck drivers providing fuel. The Greater Nashville area experienced a “run on the pumps,” which resulted in weekend gasoline sales increasing 50% above normal. As a result, even after the bypass on Line 1 was put into service, the hours of service waiver was extended through September 30 to allow inventories to return to normal and shipments to arrive from the Colonial Pipeline.

For more information, and to view the Colonial Pipeline response site, see https://helena.colonialresponse.com/.

Pond 2 (left) showing gasoline compared to Pond 3 (right) which was unaffected by the gasoline spill. Image Source: U.S. EPA, September 11, 2016.

Pond 2 (left) showing gasoline compared to Pond 3 (right) which was unaffected by the gasoline spill. Image Source: U.S. EPA, September 11, 2016.

ABOUT EMERGENCY SUPPORT FUNCTION (ESF) 12 (ENERGY ASSURANCE):

Emergency Support Functions are mechanisms developed under the National Response Framework to provide federal, state, and local governments a common language and organization structure for responding to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other catastrophic events. Each of the 15 ESFs has a corresponding organization or agency tasked with overseeing the preparedness, response, and recovery phases of incident management. Tennessee was one of the first to integrate the ESF concept and TEMA was tasked to manage the activities of the ESCs.

The purpose of ESF-12 Energy is to facilitate energy assurance in areas of the State affected by an emergency. While TVA is responsible for electricity generation and the electric grid, OEP has primary responsibility for monitoring the status of the transportation and heating fuel distribution network, and, if necessary, coordinating the State response to fuel disruptions. Working with our public sector partners, such as TEMA, the Governor’s Office, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and Insurance, and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the State is able to convene the necessary government agencies and private sector stakeholders to ensure a continuous supply of transportation and heating fuels to citizens throughout the State.

If you would like to learn more about ESF-12, please contact ben.bolton@tn.gov (Primary ESC for ESF 12).

TDEC Hosts Workshop on Energy Efficiency Opportunities for Local Jurisdictions and K-12 School Districts

Most state, local and county agencies face increasing energy costs and the need to replace or upgrade aging, inefficient, and obsolete energy and water consuming equipment. Although these needs are often evident, capital improvement and operating budgets are typically inadequate to fund the needed upgrades.

In 2013, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) received an award from the U.S. Department of Energy to provide education, outreach, and no-cost technical assistance to local governments, K-12 school districts, and public housing authorities in Tennessee, with the goal of assisting these entities and supporting the finance and implementation of energy efficiency, energy management and renewable energy projects. The scope of work under this award includes, but is not limited to, engaging local officials in the benefits of energy efficiency and providing no-cost technical assistance on cost-effective energy efficiency measures such as building audits, requests for qualifications to scope work, collaboration with energy service companies, benchmarking, measurement and verification of energy savings, and procurement.

benworkshopAs part of this work, on May 19, TDEC OEP and Clean Energy Solutions, Inc. (CESI) hosted a workshop in Franklin. A variety of local government and school district representatives were in attendance. The first portion of the workshop was dedicated to exploring energy efficiency opportunities and financing mechanisms for energy conservation measures. Specifically, this portion of the workshop featured presentations on energy savings performance contracting, Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, low-interest loan offerings from both the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative and the Pathway Lending Energy Efficiency Loan Program, and TDEC OEP’s program to provide technical assistance to wastewater treatment plants. Brian Blackmon with the City of Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability also gave a presentation on an energy savings performance contract that Knoxville completed on a variety of its facilities, with an overview of the successes and energy saved to date. The featured local government perspective

The second portion of the workshop focused on LED streetlight conversions for local jurisdictions, and featured presentations from the McMinnville Electric System (McMinnville was the first city in TVA’s service territory to convert all of their street lights to LED) as well as the City of Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability, which has piloted an LED street light conversion project and is now in the midst of pursing a city-wide conversion project. This portion of the workshop built off of an April 11 webinar hosted by OEP and CESI, entitled, “LED Street Lighting for Local Jurisdictions: Working with Local Utilities to Facilitate Best Case Scenarios.” A recording of the webinar is available here.

Under this award, OEP has provided no-cost technical assistance to numerous local governments, K-12 schools, and public housing authorities in order to support their evaluation of energy efficiency opportunities and investments. The project period for this award will end on January 31, 2017.

TDEC, UT and TVA Host Forum on Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Low-Income Households

Low-income families spend a greater proportion of their incomes on utility bills, fuel and energy, and could benefit greatly from the savings provided by more efficient homes, appliances and cars. However, these groups are often the least likely to be able to afford investments in more energy efficient measures and technologies. On March 31, TDEC, along with the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority, hosted a forum that featured several panel discussions targeting the topic of Energy Efficiency, Conservation & Low-Income Households at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The forum highlighted key aspects of the topic from the viewpoint of consumer behaviorists/economic researchers, governmental agencies, non-profits, transportation specialists, and utilities through panel discussions, keynote presentations, and open dialogue.

utforummollypanelAs our nation currently wastes more energy than it consumes, wasted energy is now recognized as an important resource base to grapple with and minimize. Through programs and policies that promote energy efficiency and conservation gains, there are a growing number of market opportunities to reduce energy consumption and unnecessary financial spending. In fact, through the development of its 2015 Integrated Resource Plan, TVA was able to integrate energy efficiency into its projected fuel mix and to consider it a resource. This helped to determine the amount of electricity generation needed and how much can be avoided by way of energy efficiency to meet future needs.

Given the way that many energy efficiency incentive programs are structured, however, low-income households are often unable to participate due to financial constraints. Most commonly, a program will offer financing options or provide an incentive or rebate to a customer that purchases an upgrade or installs a measure to improve the efficiency of their home. If a customer does not have the money to invest on the front-end, they are unable to take advantage of such programs. Highlighting this as a major constraint to current program design, the forum sought to address how existing programs could be augmented and new programs could be structured to aid low-income communities.

By bringing objective analysis and experience to the table, panelists and industry experts shared their insight on the subject, including lessons learned, to inform policy development and program design efforts. In particular, the adoption of key financing alternatives, the construction of more efficient homes, and the incorporation of more grassroots education and outreach strategies to reach low-income populations were highlighted as considerations for programs that seek to amplify their impact on these target communities.

The forum was the second in a series of collaborative events hosted by TDEC, UT’s Baker Center and TVA. Work is already underway on a third forum, which will address a separate topic of interest and is tentatively scheduled for fall 2016.

To view the presentations in video format, click here.