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.

Clean Cities Releases 2015 Alternative Fuel Vehicles Buyer’s Guide

Electric Car Charging Marker

Electric car charging pavement marking, courtesy of Paul Krueger

Comparing alternative fuel vehicles can be a daunting task. With hundreds of options, consisting of propane, natural gas, biodiesel, electric, hybrid, and ethanol flex-fuel alternatives, it can be difficult to know which variant will best serve your needs, offering the best reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the price you’re willing to pay.

The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities 2015 Vehicle Buyer’s Guide is now available, free of charge, to help individual consumers and fleet owners make better informed purchasing decisions. This nonbiased survey provides an accurate summary of the model year 2015 light-duty alternative fuel vehicles available for purchase.

With a breakdown of the following components, this resource serves as a handy tool for fair comparisons:

  • Fuel economy
  • Energy impact score (barrels petroleum/year)
  • Emissions
  • All-electric range (miles)
  • Engine and/or battery size
  • Manufacturer suggested retail price

The buyer’s guide also details certified companies that can help convert gasoline powered vehicles into alternative fuel vehicles for consumers who do not want to purchase a new vehicle. For more information on EPA-certified conversion systems and on alternative fuel conversion more generally, click here.

For consumers who want to narrow in specifically on the electric vehicle market, the Department of Energy has also just released the Plug-in Electric Vehicle Handbook for Consumers, which details everything you need to know about buying the right vehicle, driving and maintaining an electric vehicle, charging the vehicle, and the overall benefits to going electric.

Filling up and charging in Tennessee[1]

  • There are 501 alternative fuel stations in Tennessee! To find out where you can fill up or charge your alternative fuel vehicle, check out this interactive map.
  • In 2014, three new compressed natural gas (CNG) stations opened in Nashville, bringing the total to four. In Tennessee, there are a total of 11 CNG filling stations.
  • The availability of ethanol flex-fuel and biodiesel fuel continues to expand state-wide. As of mid-January, 55 stations in the state offer E85 and 22 stations offer B20 or higher biodiesel blends. Of particular note, Speedway started opening new convenience stores in East Tennessee along I-75, with a majority of the stores offering E85. This expansion of ethanol flex-fuel coincides with the I-75 Green Corridor Project.
  • With the support of the EPA-funded Crossroads Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) Project, ETCleanFuels is working to add new TSE charging sites to the state of Tennessee. Overall, the grant will introduce TSE to six stations in the Southeast, with the goal of increasing TSE usage in the region by 10%.

[1] Data in this section provided by the Tennessee Clean Fuels Advisor, 2015 Edition I, Vol. 25.

TDEC Announces Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum

Initiative Will Recognize Leaders in Reducing Transportation-related Energy and Emissions

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced today the launch of the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards initiative to recognize outstanding and voluntary achievements by governments, businesses, industries, public and private institutions of higher learning, and utilities that demonstrate leadership in advancing sustainable transportation in the State.

“According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, transportation accounts for nearly 30 percent of Tennessee’s end-use energy consumption,” Martineau said. “By recognizing thought leaders in this field, we hope to inspire replication of innovative projects, activities, and initiatives across the state in an effort to save natural resources, improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, and create efficiencies in the delivery of goods and services.”

The TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards cover eight broad categories: on-site transportation; off-site transportation; incorporation of sustainable transportation in the supply chain; employee incentive or engagement programs; public transportation; technological or operational innovations; and infrastructure development.

Entities eligible to apply for the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards include: federal, state and local governments; commercial and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities. Self-nominations are encouraged. A panel of judges representing diverse interests will select award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation, transferability, and public education and outreach.

In connection with Clean Air Month, TDEC will host a recognition ceremony and sustainable transportation forum on May 7, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Applications are available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SustainableTransportationAwards and are due to TDEC no later than March 20, 2015. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Luke Gebhard in TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs at 615-741-2994 or luke.gebhard@tn.gov.

Upcoming Events & Activities for February-March 2015

USDA Rural Energy America Program Workshops

The United States Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Tennessee Renewable Energy Economic Development Council and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, is hosting a series of educational workshops across Tennessee to discuss the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan guarantee programs. These workshops are ideal for rural small business owners, agricultural producers, lenders, rural electric cooperatives, and energy resource providers that are interested in learning more about financial assistance for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The workshops have been scheduled for the following dates, locations, and times:

  • February 24, 2015 – Cleveland, TN – Mountain view Inn – 11:00am – 1:00pm EST.
  • February 26, 2015 – Cookeville, TN – Tennessee Tech University – 11:00am – 1:00pm CST.
  • March 2, 2015 – Trenton, TN – Gibson County Utility District – 6:00pm – 8:00pm CST.

RSVP here. For more information, contact Pam Crozier, State Specialist/Energy Coordinator for Tennessee, at Pamela.Crozier@tn.usda.gov or 615-783-1367.

Tennessee Environmental Conference

Registration is open for the 14th Annual Tennessee Environmental Conference, which is taking place March 16-18 at Meadowview Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport, Tennessee. The theme of this year’s conference is “Improving Our Health and Environment Through Smart Choices.” Topics include Environment, Industry, Health, Innovation, Energy, and Sustainability. David Golden, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Corporate Secretary for Eastman Chemical Company has been named the keynote speaker. For more information and to register, visit http://www.tnenvironment.com.

Nashville to Host National Energy Codes Conference

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office has chosen Nashville as the site for its National Energy Codes Conference, which is taking place March 23-26, 2015. Additional details, including registration information, a preliminary agenda, the application for the Jeffrey A. Johnson Award, and more are available on the conference webpage.

TEEI Programming Survey

Dear Stakeholders -

The Tennessee Energy Education Initiative (TEEI) has developed a survey to solicit your opinion about our past programs and activities and to hear your thoughts about the kind of educational, outreach, training, and technical assistance opportunities that would be of greatest assistance or benefit to you and your organization in this upcoming year.  Because we know your time is valuable, the survey has been designed to take approximately 5 minutes to complete. It is accessible by clicking on the following link:


We thank you in advance for your participation, as your responses will be invaluabe in shaping future TEEI programs, initiatives, and activities. The survey will be accessible until Friday, February 6, 2015.

For questions or more information, please contact Luke Gebhard, Senior Program Manager for TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs, at luke.gebhard@tn.gov or 615-741-2994.

We wish you a happy and healthy 2015!


The Tennessee Energy Education Initiative

University of Tennessee to Lead $259 Million Manufacturing Partnership

On January 9, 2015, President Obama flew to Knoxville to announce that the University of Tennessee (UT) will lead the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, universities and research laboratories tasked with creating next generation composite materials and technologies for rapid deployment within the automotive, wind turbine, and compressed gas storage industries.

Through the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, the IACMI will invest more than $250 million – $70 million in federal funds and more than $180 million in non-federal funds – to launch a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Advanced Composites. The Institute will focus on lowering the overall manufacturing costs of advanced composites by 50 percent, reducing the energy used to make composites by 75 percent and increasing the recyclability of composites to over 95 percent within the next decade. IACMI is dedicated to overcoming these barriers by developing low-cost, high-production, energy-efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for composites applications. The Institute will focus on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites that combine strong fibers with advanced, tough plastics that yield materials that are lighter and stronger than steel.

The partnership connects the leading manufacturers across the supply chain, and is regionally organized around five focus areas: vehicles (Michigan); wind turbines (Colorado); compressed gas storage (Ohio); design, modeling and simulation (Indiana); and composite materials and processing technology (Tennessee supported by Kentucky). In addition to UT, other Tennessee-based organizations in the partnership include: the State of Tennessee, Heil Trailer International, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Techmer Engineered Solutions, UT Research Foundation, Vanderbilt University, and Volkswagen.

IACMI also supports efforts of DOE’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative by encouraging collaboration and moving ahead with production methods and materials that require less energy and resources.

DOE Initiative Highlights Growth of Electric Vehicle Workplace Charging

In January 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge (the Challenge) to encourage increased access to workplace charging through a partnership of public and private entities and by directly offering employers information and technical assistance. At launch, the Challenge boasted 13 partners.

According to an August 2014 survey of participating partners, access to EV charging has nearly doubled in the last two years under the Challenge, with the number of workplaces offering charging stations increasing 40% in 2013 and 45% in 2014. These partners now provide access to EV charging to more than 600,000 employees at over 300 locations across the country.  Nissan and Schneider Electric have joined the partnership at their Middle Tennessee locations.

As access to workplace charging has increased, the number of Challenge participants has mushroomed more than tenfold, to over 150 partners, and DOE is seeking to grow the Challenge to 500 partners by 2018.

DOE released a progress report in November 2014 with the following impressive results from the Challenge to date:

  • 90% of partners reported that their workplace charging stations were fully occupied 5 days a week.
  • Partner employees are twenty times more likely to drive an EV than the average worker.
  • Employee EV use under the Challenge displaced approximately 370,000 gallons of gasoline between June 2013 and May 2014.

The Challenge is open to employers of “all sizes and industry types in the United States.” Interested organizations can learn more about or join the Challenge here.

New Partnership to Test Smart Grid Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board (EPB) have launched a new partnership to improve the functionality of the power grid. New smart grid technologies and processes will be tested through modeling sequences as well as upon Chattanooga’s fully operational smart grid, gathering real world feedback that will help the electric grid deliver reliable, affordable, and clean electricity to consumers. Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Division, Patricia Hoffman, served on the panel that discussed the launch. She emphasized that many of the initial smart grid benefits can be made by improving the distribution system, which is one of the goals of the partnership, “making the grid more efficient, more flexible, and more reliable.”

EPB, which was established in 1935 as a nonprofit to provide electric power to the Chattanooga area, provides electricity and other services to approximately 170,000 homes and businesses using a world class fiber optic network. This next generation system reduces the impact of outages, improves response time, and provides customers greater control over their energy use. As an example, power was restored within 3 days following a significant February 2014 storm; under the prior grid, similar restorations took as many as 8 days.

Results of this partnership will guide the energy distribution system of the future to improve service and resiliency, save money and energy, and enhance public safety. The case study hopes to serve as a blueprint for other utilities in Tennessee that may be evaluating deployment of smart grid technologies.

Clean Energy Loan Program Shows Promise

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loans Program Office has supported numerous innovative projects across the country, helping to launch the utility-scale photovoltaic solar industry, revitalize the U.S. nuclear industry, commercialize cellulosic biofuels, and accelerate the growth of advanced and electric vehicle manufacturing.

Based on a newly-released progress report, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Energy Loan Program has netted more than $800 million in interest from its $30 billion loan program, which has impacted an estimated 55,000 jobs. This program was established in 2005 and benefitted from $15 billion going to loan guarantees through the Recovery Act in 2009. A total of $34.25 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and conditional commitments have been issued, with $3.49 billion of the principal having been repaid to date. The interest earned totals $810 million, exceeding the actual and estimated losses of $780 million.

In 2010, DOE awarded Nissan North America, based in Franklin, TN, a $1.45B loan under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. With these funds, Nissan constructed one of the largest battery manufacturing plants in the US, retooled its Smyrna, TN facility for assembly of the all-electric LEAF, made energy efficiency and environmental improvements to its paint operations, and developed an electric power train line in its Decherd, TN plant. These projects are estimated to support over 1,300 jobs and displace more than  5.7 million gallons of gasoline annually, according to DOE.

The Clean Energy Loan Program will continue to finance innovative technologies to achieve deployment at a commercial scale through its Title XVII Loan Program and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, and will utilize its remaining $40 billion in issuing authority in the years ahead. For eligibility information for this loan program, click here.

TEEI Takes Lessons from LEVER Workshop

On November 3-4, 2014, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) participated in a workshop on light electric vehicle (LEV) regulation and research at the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy in Knoxville. The workshop was hosted by the University of Tennessee’s Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research Center (LEVER), and included participants from academia, local and state government, advocacy groups, and industry. Light electric vehicles are often referred to as e-bikes, or electronic bicycles, which integrate an electric motor into a standard bicycle to assist with propulsion.

LEVs, whether taking a simpler form that closely resembles a regular bicycle or something more substantial, will be a growing presence in the United States in the years ahead and will likely become an important link in urban mobility infrastructure. The industry, along with many bike shops, is predicting that within ten years, half of all the bicycles sold will be electric. Combining the utility and fun of a traditional bicycle with the convenient assistance of supplemental power for hills and hot summer days, the LEV may become a more common answer for a healthy, low emission, convenient, and cost effective means of urban transit.

At the workshop, presentations and conversations revolved around LEV adoption, systems integration, societal impacts, and polices governing the LEV industry. Topics included the growth of the LEV industry, advances in technology, and how the vehicles were being integrated into a number of recreational, commercial, and health-related areas. Some of the findings noted the potential for e-bikes to be successfully deployed in a bikeshare, displace car trips, and the demographics of users of e-bikes (58% between the ages of 45-64).

One of the key themes of the Tennessee Energy Education Initiative has been promoting ways for businesses, utilities, and governments to take control of their energy use. A number of TEEI events featured the Rhoades Car, a pedal-based vehicle available with electric assist, which offers energy saving alternatives for both personal and product mobility.

TEEI sponsors Second Annual Southeast Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit

Through the Tennessee Energy Education Initiative (TEEI), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) was a proud sponsor of the Second Annual Southeast Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit. This year’s event took place November 13-14 at the Embassy Suites Nashville Airport, and followed up the highly-successful inaugural Southeast Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit. Organized by the Industrial Energy Efficiency Network (IEEN), a TEEI partner, this year’s Summit convened representatives from the industrial, educational, and utility sectors to share best practices in energy efficiency and energy management and featured presentations from premier organizations, such as Alcoa, Brother International, Eastman Chemical, Electric Power Research Institute, General Motors, Lasco Fittings, Tennessee Tech, and Toyota.

TEEI joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings / Better Plants initiative and TVA’s EnergyRight Solutions for Business to provide outreach to conference attendees regarding technical assistance and energy financing opportunities in the commercial and industrial sectors, including the Tennessee Energy Efficiency Loan Program. TEEI also provided copies of “Tennessee’s Advanced Energy Asset Inventory,” a 45-page report dedicated to promoting the use of advanced energy technologies and assisting the development of Tennessee businesses in the emerging advanced energy sector. The report was produced in September 2013 by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with TEEI.