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.



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.

TDEC Works with Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants on Energy Efficiency

Drinking water and wastewater treatment systems account for roughly 4 percent of energy use in the United States.[1] At the local level, almost 35% of municipal energy use occurs at these facilities, given that the pumps, motors and other equipment used to treat water often operate around the clock.[2]

Given the high energy intensity of these facilities (25-50 percent of the operating budget for wastewater utilities and 80 percent of the processing/distribution costs for drinking water treatment plants is spent on electricity),[3] the opportunity for saving energy and money through energy efficiency and conservation of energy is extremely large.

In 2011, TDEC’s Office of Sustainable Practices and Division of Water Resources, in cooperation with EPA, TVA, the University of Memphis, and the UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) created the Tennessee Water and Wastewater Energy Efficiency Partnership.  This Partnership provides free technical assistance to drinking water and wastewater treatment plants through energy assessments and no-to-low cost recommendations.  Once implemented, these recommendations have saved participating treatment plants an average of 19 percent in annual energy costs. Realized savings have motivated personnel to find additional energy efficiency projects, which can be funded with such savings. Ultimately, these savings help to postpone the raising of rates, allowing consumers to also benefit.

In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) would receive a 2015 State Energy Program Competitive Award to work alongside the State of Alabama in furthering energy efficiency at Tennessee’s and Alabama’s water and wastewater treatment plants. The award will serve to expand the work of the Tennessee Water and Wastewater Energy Efficiency Partnership and will advance the adoption of energy efficiency improvements at wastewater and water treatment plants in at least 24 municipalities in Tennessee and Alabama through onsite energy assessments and energy management implementation support. The project team, which consists of experts from TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, EPA Region 4, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs, TDEC’s Office of Sustainable Practices, the University of Memphis, Clean Energy Solutions, Inc., the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, combines a wealth of technical experience and compliance knowledge. By harnessing the expertise of the project team and fostering the exchange of best practices between states, the DOE-funded project will support water and wastewater treatment plants in identifying and overcoming barriers to implementing energy efficiency, ultimately resulting in significant energy savings.

The initial kickoff workshop under the 2015 SEP Competitive Award is likely to take place in June of 2016. For more information, contact Ben Bolton at ben.bolton@tn.gov or (615) 532-8798.

TDEC Announces Second Annual Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) invites Tennesseans to submit nominations for the second annual 2016 Sustainable Transportation Awards. The deadline to submit nominations is March 31.

The Awards recognize outstanding initiatives within the state of Tennessee to reduce transportation-related energy and emissions, in line with an overarching effort to save natural resources, improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, and create efficiencies in the delivery of goods and services.

“By recognizing thought leaders in this field, we hope to inspire replication of innovative projects, activities, and initiatives across the state,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “We also hope to bring these thought leaders together to discuss new ways to address transportation-related issues that affect our environment.”

Additional consideration for the awards may be given to projects that benefit an underserved population, decrease blight, make use of renewable fuels, provide infrastructure for two or more types of transportation not including personal vehicles, or directly result in a similar project being completed by a different entity.

Eligible entities include federal, state and local governments; commercial, nonprofit, and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities. The entity must be located in Tennessee, and the project must have been completed in the last five years. All nominees must have a minimum of three consecutive, current years of exceptional environmental compliance with the Department of Environment and Conservation. Self-nominations are encouraged.

A panel of judges representing diverse interests will select award recipients based on criteria including project planning optimization, community health and well-being, participation incentives and outreach, and emissions reductions.

In connection with Clean Air Month, TDEC, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will host a recognition ceremony and sustainable transportation forum May 12-13, 2016, at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Applications and more information about the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum are now available at http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-sustainable-transportation-awards-forum. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Alexa Voytek in TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs at (615) 532-0238 or Alexa.Voytek@tn.gov.