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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.

evcharging

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.

$3.1 Million in Clean Tennessee Energy Grants Awarded

On Monday, June 15, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau awarded more than $3.1 million to fund energy efficiency projects for local governments and municipalities, utilities and state entities across Tennessee.

The grant program provides financial assistance to eligible entities in Tennessee to purchase, install and construct environmental mitigation projects, and this is the largest amount of funding that has been allocated from the grant program since its inception.

“Clean Tennessee Energy grants fund projects that help our communities become more energy efficient while providing long-term cost savings for taxpayers,” Haslam said. “I want to thank all of these groups for their commitment to improving our communities, our environment and our state.”

Thirty eight Clean Tennessee Energy grants were awarded to recipients for projects designed to reduce air emissions, improve energy efficiency and create cost savings including projects focused on:

  • Cleaner Alternative Energy – biomass, geothermal, solar, wind
  • Energy Conservation – lighting, HVAC improvements, improved fuel efficiency, insulation, idling minimization
  • Air Quality Improvement – reduction in greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen, hazardous air pollutants

“We are very pleased with the impressive roster of applicants seeking energy efficient ways to decrease emissions and reduce expenses at the local level,” Martineau said. “We continue to look for ways to promote environmental awareness and energy efficiency within state government and within Tennessee’s communities.”

Funding for the projects comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state. To date, TDEC has reimbursed roughly $6.1 million in funding to grantees for a variety of innovative projects to reduce environmental impacts and operating costs at sites of new construction and sites with aging infrastructure.

The maximum grant amount per project is $250,000 and requires a match from the applicant. Grant recipients were chosen based on the careful consideration to meet the selection criteria and for those projects that expressed the greatest need. To learn more about the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant and future grants, contact Kathy Glapa at (615) 253-8780 or Kathy.Glapa@tn.gov.

For a full list of 2015 projects and award amounts, visit: https://news.tn.gov/node/14007.

Alternative Fuel Financing, Updates and News

In 2013, the State of Tennessee ranked 14th in the U.S. based on the total number of vehicle miles traveled.[1]  That year, according to the EIA, a hefty 71,067 million miles were traveled within Tennessee. These millions of miles present a unique opportunity, as we find ways to advance sustainable transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the State.

Below you will find a collection of updates on opportunities for alternative fuel financing and accessibility:

Propane Funding

Thanks to funding from the Tennessee Propane Education and Research Council, private Tennessee fleets (with three or more vehicles) can now apply for up to $1,000 per vehicle for new, factory-direct propane-powered vehicles and up to $1,000 for the purchase of engines converted to run on LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). The conversion systems may be bi-fuel and/or dedicated conversion systems. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit: http://www.etcleanfuels.org/docs/Propane-Vehicle-Incentives-for-Businesses_8-1-14.pdf.

Alternative Fuel Aggregate Purchasing Models

The U.S. DOE announced on June 8, 2015 up to $2 million in competitive funding to support models for aggregate purchasing of plug-in electric or other alternative fuel vehicles, alternative fuels, and/or refueling/charging infrastructure. In particular, DOE seeks proposals for ways to coordinate customers in order to maximize collective buying power and to lower costs. Applications are due by August 31, 2015. For more information, and for access to the full funding opportunity announcement, visit: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=277098.

Electric Vehicle Rebates

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs will offer a two-tiered rebate on qualifying electric vehicles that are purchased or leased and registered after June 15, 2015 in the State of Tennessee.

Electric vehicle dealerships will be responsible for providing the rebate to consumers after such funds are received from the State. The State will rebate $2,500 on zero-emission battery electric vehicles and $1,500 on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles sold or leased (with a three-year minimum lease term) by a Tennessee dealership to Tennessee residents, after a claim is filed by the dealership.

For the purposes of this rebate, battery electric vehicles are defined as fully electric, zero-emission vehicles that have an on-board electrical energy storage device that can be recharged from an external source of electricity. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have zero-emission vehicle range capability and an onboard electrical energy storage device that can be recharged from an external source of electricity. In general, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be driven using electricity, gasoline or both.

There is currently $682,500 available for this second iteration of the electric vehicle rebate program. The rebate program will go into effect for vehicle purchases or leases made after June 15, 2015. Rebates will be dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis, and the program will remain active until funds are exhausted.

For more information, visit: http://www.tn.gov/environment/energy_rebates.shtml.

Alternative Fueling Station Locator

The U.S. DOE’s Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which provides up-to-date information on biodiesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, E85, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, and propane refueling/recharging locations, has recently logged over 20,000 stations to its list. Users can filter their search results based on specific queries, and can even tailor a search for electric charging stations, for instance, down to the type of charger that they are seeking to hook up to.

For those drivers who are searching for a station while on the road, the Station Locator also exists as a mobile website and iPhone app.

CNG Rally Across Tennessee

Grand opening of the Gibson County Utility District in Trenton, TN. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Overly with the East TN Clean Fuels Coalition.

Grand opening of the Gibson County Utility District in Trenton, TN. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Overly with the East TN Clean Fuels Coalition.

The Tennessee Gas Association (TGA) hosted the 2015 TGA Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Across Tennessee Rally during the week of May 18-22, with stops in Memphis, Trenton, Nashville, Athens and Sevier County.  This five stop tour visited public natural gas refueling stations along Tennessee’s CNG highway, serving to educate the public about the benefits of natural gas as a vehicle fuel.

On May 19th, the Gibson County Utility District natural gas refueling station held its grand opening ceremony in Trenton. This refueling station served as the second stop on the CNG Across Tennessee Rally. The Trenton “green” station utilizes a Kohler gas generator to produce power for the station from natural gas and Andalay solar panels to keep the station off the grid.

“Our public CNG infrastructure is one of our state’s best kept secrets,” said Lynette DiMeola, Executive Director of the Tennessee Gas Association.  “This statewide effort serves to promote this growing industry and inform the public that a natural gas vehicle, fleet or semi-truck can drive across the state of Tennessee refueling with domestic natural gas as vehicle fuel.”

For more information on the individual rally stops, visit http://www.tngas.org/NewsArticles.aspx?ID=72.

TDEC Announces Rebates for Buyers, Lessees of Qualifying Electric Vehicles

Limited-time offer will be available for purchases or leases made after June 15

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs today announced it will offer a two-tiered rebate on qualifying electric vehicles that are purchased or leased and registered in the State of Tennessee.

“Electric vehicles are a great alternative for Tennesseans looking to do their part in protecting the air we breathe,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “This rebate program is a way to assist consumers making environmentally conscious transportation decisions.”

Electric vehicle dealerships will be responsible for providing the rebate to consumers after such funds are received from the State. The State will rebate $2,500 on zero-emission battery electric vehicles and $1,500 on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles sold or leased (with a three-year minimum lease term) by a Tennessee dealership to Tennessee residents, after a claim is filed by the dealership.

For the purposes of this rebate, battery electric vehicles are defined as fully electric, zero-emission vehicles that have an on-board electrical energy storage device that can be recharged from an external source of electricity. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have zero-emission vehicle range capability and an onboard electrical energy storage device that can be recharged from an external source of electricity. In general, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be driven using electricity, gasoline or both.

There is currently $682,500 available for this second iteration of the electric vehicle rebate program. The rebate program will go into effect for vehicle purchases or leases made after June 15, 2015. Rebates will be dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis, and the program will remain active until funds are exhausted.

The following vehicles are eligible to qualify for a rebate:

Battery electric vehicles (BEV) $2,500 Rebate

  • BMW i3 or i3 Rex
  • Chevrolet Spark EV
  • Fiat 500e
  • Ford Focus Electric
  • Honda Fit EV
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • Nissan LEAF
  • smartED and Electric Fortwo
  • Tesla Model S
  • Toyota RAV4 EV
  • Volkswagen e-Golf

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) $1,500 Rebate

  • BMW i8
  • Cadillac ELR
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Ford CMAX Energi
  • Ford Fusion Energi
  • Honda Accord Plug-in
  • Porsche 918 Spyder
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
  • Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

For questions or more information, e-mail Alexa Voytek, Program Manager at TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs, at alexa.voytek@tn.gov or call (615) 532-0238.

NREL Guide Helps to Determine Cost-Effectiveness of CNG Fleets

Even with today’s discounted gasoline prices, natural gas as a fuel is about 20% cheaper than that of gasoline.[1] Although the initial purchase price of vehicles running on natural gas is higher than those fueled by gasoline, the cost savings that a consumer witnesses over the lifespan of a natural gas vehicle (NGV) helps to recover that initial investment cost in a short period of time.

An individual or business may also be keen to invest in a natural gas vehicle because NGVs have substantially lower operating and maintenance costs, as natural gas burns cleanly and there is less engine deterioration than there is with gasoline.[2] Above all, NGVs emit approximately 6%-11% lower levels of harmful greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.[3]

A new publication by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) breaks down the variables that many fleet managers face when deciding on the economic viability of investing in compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled fleet vehicles.

In particular, NREL developed a Vehicle Infrastructure and Cash-Flow Evaluation (VICE) model to help business owners and fleet managers seeking to evaluate the cost savings they might generate by investing in CNG-fueled vehicles.

As each fleet represents a unique case study, the report breaks down the operating parameters of CNG-powered vehicles, analyzing infrastructure, financial incentives, vehicle maintenance, fuel taxes, fuel pricing, inflation, and vehicle type, so that fleet owners can make more informed decisions about the financial soundness of investing in NGVs.

Tennessee CNG Laws and Incentives

The State of Tennessee has its own specific incentives to make natural gas an attractive option as an alternative fuel. In particular, there is a natural gas station property tax reduction, by which any public utility, commercial, or industrial property certified to fuel natural gas vehicles may not be valued for property tax purposes at more than 30% of its total installed cost.[4] In the state of Tennessee, both Piedmont Natural Gas and UPS have utilized this incentive to build natural gas refueling stations. Furthermore, there are state procurement policies in place that favor the adoption of NGVs within the State’s fleet.

A few CNG-powered vehicles are also included on the federal high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane exemption list, which allows low emission and energy efficient vehicles access to the HOV lane, even if the vehicle has fewer than the required number of occupants. This adds to the overall cost-effectiveness of owning natural gas vehicles, as drivers in this lane experience substantial savings in travel time.

Tennessee NGV Rally

From May 18-22, a CNG-fueled vehicle rally took place in Tennessee, beginning at Memphis Light, Gas & Water. Check out the fully rally details here to see where the vehicles stopped and refueled.



[1] Using average prices in Nashville on 4/23/15 from the following two sites: http://www.cngprices.com/station_map.php and http://www.nashvillegasprices.com/

[4] Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2004(9) defines “certified green energy production facility” as including a facility certified by the department of environment and conservation as an alternative motor vehicle fueling station that utilizes natural gas in compressed or liquid form for the purpose of fueling motor vehicles and that is projected to displace more than six thousand gallons (6,000 gals.) of petroleum annually.  Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-601(f), public utility or commercial or industrial property that is used to engage in the fueling of natural gas vehicles and that is certified as an alternative fueling site as described in Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2004(9) is not exempt from taxation but will be initially valued at not more than 30% of its total installed costs.  This valuation also applies to machinery and equipment utilized in a natural gas vehicle fueling station such as storage vessels, compressors, dryers, dispensers, piping, and compressed or liquefied gas appliances.  A copy of the facility certification by the department of environment and conservation is required to qualify for the valuation.  The findings of the General Assembly that this valuation is based on the limited number of vehicles equipped to use natural gas as fuel and that discouraging investment in property used for fueling alternative fuel vehicles would deny Tennessee citizens the environmental benefits and energy security arising from use of natural gas as a transportation fuel are to be considered when the property is reappraised.

 

U.S. DOE and EPA Recognizes 128 Partners for Exceptional Commitments to Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded 128 entities from 33 states with the 2015 ENERGY STAR’s Partner of the Year award for their commitments and efforts in energy efficiency and environmental protection.

The winners, which were chosen from a network of 16,000 ENERGY STAR partners, were deemed to be leaders in their industries both in the production of energy-efficient products and services, and in the adoption of corporate strategies for energy reduction.

In 2014 alone, ENERGY STAR partners prevented 300 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and reduced utility bills in the U.S. by $34 billion.[1] The ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award helps to draw attention to some of the sustained leaders in energy efficiency, their best practices, and the success stories that can motivate companies and consumers nationwide to adopt energy efficient strategies of their own.

Tennessee’s ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville earned the Sustained Excellence Partner of the Year Award for New Homes Construction. The organization has incorporated energy efficiency into its affordable housing offerings for low-income families by allowing people to purchase Energy Star certified homes with monthly utility bills that average $78 for a 1,200 square-foot home. The organization also partners with Energy Star certified product vendors, so that homeowners can save even more on monthly utility bills.

Tennessee-based Nissan North America, Inc. and Eastman Chemical Company were both awarded the Sustained Excellence Partner of the Year Award for Energy Management. This award is given to entities that adopt a continuous energy management strategy across their entire portfolio of buildings and plants.

Of particular note, Nissan North America improved its U.S. enterprise energy efficiency by 13 percent over 2013 and by 35 percent since 2009. The company promoted energy efficiency awareness by including an energy efficiency flyer in Nissan LEAF glove boxes, and assisted in the ENERGY STAR certification of 5 K-12 schools in Tennessee and the recertification of 19 schools in Mississippi.[2]

Eastman Chemical Company received its recognition in part because of its efficient operation of cogeneration facilities, but also because of its emphasis on the manufacturing of energy efficient chemical distillation systems. Eastman improved its energy consumption since 2008 by roughly eight percent, avoiding $29 million in energy costs in 2014 alone.[3] Furthermore, the company encourages employees to take steps towards more active energy reduction via its successful “Superhero” campaign.

TEEI congratulates Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, Nissan North America and Eastman Chemical on being named ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year.

The full list of 2015 ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year can be found here: http://www.energystar.gov/about/awards/2015_energy_star_award_winners.

 

National Parks Further Commitment to Sustainable Transportation

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities National Parks Initiative is a strategic partnership between the National Parks Service and the Department of Energy to fund the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, minimize petroleum use, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in and around America’s national parks.

Introduced in 2010, the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative is focused on sustainable transportation projects in over 27 parks, such as Acadia National Park, where visitors and staff can travel among park destinations and neighboring communities on buses powered by alternative fuels, or Grand Canyon National Park, which has set a goal to reduce its transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020.

In March of 2015, the partnership revealed that it would begin work with five new parks:[1]

  • Christiansted National Historic Site (Virgin Islands)
  • Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
  • Point Reyes National Seashore (California)
  • Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (Missouri)
  • Independence National Historical Park (Pennsylvania)

Alternative Fuel in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative will replace older gasoline trucks with new propane-powered vehicles, adding four propane pickup trucks and installing two propane refueling stations. The park is also replacing three pickup trucks with all-electric vehicles, converting five gasoline mowers to operate on propane, and installing four publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations. These replacements and installations are expected to reduce the park’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40 million tons of CO2 and to save nearly 8,900 gasoline-gallon equivalents of petroleum per year.[2]

 

Green Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains

For tourists who want to travel to Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park with little to no emissions, the Black Bear Solar Institute has established a “Green Gateway” of electric vehicle charging stations, bridging the distance from Interstate Highways and major urban areas of Tennessee to the National Park gateway community of Townsend, Tennessee. The Green Gateway helps to ensure better air quality and decreased tailpipe emissions surrounding the most frequented National Park in the U.S.[3]