October is National Energy Action 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 (OEP) will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management.
TDEC OEP works with a variety of projects and audiences to address energy advancement in Tennessee on topics including:
- energy efficiency and conservation,
- renewable energy,
- utility data management,
- alternative fuel vehicles and technologies,
- education and outreach,
- energy policy development and strategy, clean energy financing,
- and energy assurance, resiliency, and emergency preparedness.
Below are 5 diverse examples of the work OEP does to advance effective energy use and innovation across the state. Don’t forget to stop by our website to discover even more about OEP’s programming and activities!
1. K-12 Tennessee Energy Education Network Camps and Workshops
The primary goal of the Tennessee Energy Education Network (TEEN) is to engage K-12 students in the science of energy. In turn, students will gain an interest in energy and educate their schools and communities about energy conservation, alternative and renewable energy resources, and more. TEEN encourages students to pursue career paths in energy and related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
TEEN also provides Tennessee educators with access to Energy Education Camps and Workshops. These camps and workshops provide teacher instruction on how to engage with energy sciences and energy conservation in the classroom—and have lots of fun doing it! Energy Camps and Workshops are offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and all activities address Tennessee science curriculum standards.
2. Energy Assurance
OEP is responsible for enhancing Tennessee’s preparedness for disruptions to the State’s energy resources, particularly those related to transportation and home heating fuels. This work includes the ongoing development of the State’s Energy Assurance Plan—in cooperation with other State agencies and private industry stakeholders—and responding to all Emergency Support Function 12 (ESF-12) activities under the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP). For OEP, this type of programming falls under energy resiliency or energy assurance.
3. Utility Data Management
The Utility Data Management (UDM) project offers an online platform that, once implemented, will centralize historical and ongoing utility data in State owned and operated facilities. This tool provides a means for end users such as State facility and utility managers, fiscal personnel, technical assistance providers, sustainability professionals, and State Facility Utility Management (SFUM) team members to gain actionable insights into their utility data, allowing them to identify ways to save money in the future through facility benchmarking, budget forecasting, Energy Use Intensity (EUI) calculations, and more. Tennessee’s UDM platform is expected to roll out in two phases. The first phase will feature a pilot group, which was granted access to the system in Q3 2017. The next phase, which is expected to kick off in Q1 2018, will provide access to the remainder of end users, so stay tuned!
4. Clean Energy Financing and Public-Private Partnerships
Some of OEP’s current clean energy financing or funding opportunities include:
- Tennessee Energy Efficiency Loan Program –OEP oversees the State’s involvement with the Pathway Lending Energy Efficiency Loan Program, which provides Tennessee businesses, non-profits, and local governmental entities with below-market loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. All costs related to the efficiency measures may be financed, including assessments, design, equipment and installation. Any project that reduces utility consumption, across electric, gas, or water, may apply for financing through this program. The loans are designed to allow for energy costs savings derived from each project to provide the repayment of the loan.
- Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECB) Program – TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) serves as the coordinator and administrator of the State’s QECB program, in partnership with the Tennessee Local Development Authority (TLDA). These funds support qualified state, local, and tribal energy conservation projects and some private activity projects. Eligible projects are defined broadly, but some examples of qualified projects include energy efficiency capital expenditures in public buildings, green communities, renewable energy production, various research and development, efficiency/energy reduction measures for mass transit, and energy efficiency education campaigns.
- Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program – The Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program assists public, non-profit, and private Tennessee-based fleets with the investment in and purchase of natural gas or propane-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
5. TN Clean Fuels – Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (U.S. DOE’s) Clean Cities program advances the nation’s economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local actions to cut petroleum use in transportation. Part of U.S. DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office, Clean Cities has saved more than 8.5 billion gallons of petroleum since its inception in 1993. Nearly 100 local coalitions serve as the foundation of the Clean Cities program by working to cut petroleum use in communities across the country. Clean Cities coalitions are comprised of businesses, fuel providers, vehicle fleets, state and local government agencies, and community organizations. Each coalition is led by an on-the-ground Clean Cities coordinator, who tailors projects and activities to capitalize on the unique opportunities in their communities.
In the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Clean Fuels (TCF) is comprised of Tennessee’s two U.S. DOE-designated Clean Cities coalitions: Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels and East Tennessee Clean Fuels. The mission of Tennessee Clean Fuels is to promote cleaner alternative fuels and vehicles to improve air quality and health, curb dependence on petroleum, and support Tennessee’s economy. TDEC OEP’s Alexa Voytek serves as the Coordinator for Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels, and Jonathan Overly serves as the Coordinator for East Tennessee Clean Fuels. These two coalitions work hand in hand to support fleets across the State of Tennessee in evaluating alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies.
As you can see, OEP provides education, outreach, technical assistance, and/or funding and financing opportunities for a diverse array of energy projects and programs within the State of Tennessee. We encourage you to reach out with questions or to take advantage of these programs. For more information, and to find out about additional OEP programming or financing opportunities, please check out our website!