Amid the featured fireside chat, the panel discussions and the networking at TAEBC’s year-end “Opportunities in Energy” event, there were three videos unveiled demonstrating Tennessee’s leadership in the advanced energy sector.

These three videos were played between the panels to provide an empowering reminder of what’s to come as far as advanced energy in the Volunteer State.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-27-06-pmThe first video entitled “This is Advanced Energy” specifically discussed what is advanced energy to begin with and what it means to Tennessee’s economy.

This video explains to viewers advanced energy is technology neutral and applies to anything that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient. Advanced energy includes electricity, transportation, manufacturers that make advanced energy widgets, and deploying advanced energy processes and technologies at plants. Above all else however, advanced energy means jobs as it relates to Governor Bill Haslam’s priorities to be the #1 state in the Southeast for job growth.

Tennessee is a leader in the $1.3 trillion dollar advanced energy market.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-47-12-pmThe second video “Inside Advanced Energy” allowed viewers to meet the people and companies that employ nearly 325,000 people and contribute $33.4 billion to Tennessee’s GDP.

The businesses mentioned in the video explain how they strive to increase energy efficiency, make switches to use cleaner energy sources like natural gas, design solar solutions to companies and utilities so they can benefit from renewable power, and provide talented, educated people to support engineering and science projects that relate to the future of energy in Tennessee.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-51-39-pmThe third and final video recognizes the “Innovations in Advanced Energy.” Innovations in Oak Ridge National Laboratory are transforming the energy industry entirely.

The video stresses the importance of public and private partnerships and how they are accelerating the pace of innovation moving from the lab to the marketplace. Ultimately the viewer sees how Tennessee’s economy has benefited tremendously from those successful partnerships.

The Square Room inside Cafe 4 in Downtown Knoxville was packed on Tuesday afternoon as 80 people awaited to hear about the accomplishments in Tennessee’s advanced energy sector and what’s to come in the future.

U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Kathleen Hogan and new CEO of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), Bryan Dods, gathered in Knoxville to discuss how advanced energy is not only making an impact in the Volunteer State but also nationwide.

(L to R) WBIR-TV anchor John Becker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy Kathleen Hogan, and Bryan Dods CEO of IACMI

(L to R) WBIR-TV anchor John Becker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy Kathleen Hogan, and Bryan Dods CEO of IACMI

Their featured fireside chat took place at the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC)’s annual “Opportunities in Energy” event in Knoxville. Business leaders and public officials gathered to learn more about how to leverage advanced energy to make Tennessee the #1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.

The fireside chat was moderated by WBIR-TV anchor John Becker. The questions ranged from innovations in advanced manufacturing to what was going to happen to Hogan’s position at the U.S. Department of Energy with a new Administration soon to be stepping in.

“Even though I have this title that makes it sound like I could be political, I’m really not. So with the way the federal government works, there’s a group of people called Senior Executive Service, and that is what I am. We are at the Senior level, the executive level but just below the political level, so I was a part of the core team that engaged with the transition before the election,” said Hogan.

Hogan elaborated further by explaining the transition team is at the Department of Energy now. Hogan stated after the inauguration then her team will engage with the appointed people and who they come in with once they get through their Senate confirmations. She said it’s quite a lengthy process.

“As you look back historically, the Secretary has frequently been nominated and confirmed within the first couple weeks but then they get to turn around and engage in selections of who’s going to be the Deputy, who’s going to be the Under Secretary and then important to me for personal reasons as well is who’s my boss going to be at the Assistant Secretary level for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” said Hogan.

TAEBC President Matt Kisber

TAEBC President Matt Kisber

TAEBC President, Matt Kisber, made the following commitment to members and stakeholders as we begin a new year and transition to a new Administration in Washington.

  • First, inform the national energy agenda. Tennessee is a major player in the $1.3 trillion dollar global market and TAEBC has a lot of expertise to share.
  • Second, support TVA’s efforts to become the utility of the future. TVA is a great asset to the advanced energy economy and we welcome opportunities for collaboration and partnership.
  • Third, help Tennessee become the #1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. Advanced energy can help us reach that goal, and we stand ready to help make that a reality.
  • And fourth, foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups with the kick-off of the Energy Mentor Network, in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

During the event TAEBC also unveiled a three-part video series showcasing the people and businesses in Tennessee’s advanced energy industry. Tennessee’s advanced energy sector employs nearly 325,000 people and contributes more than $33 billion to the state GDP.

If you’d like to view the videos, please go to the “What is Advanced Energy?” page of TAEBC’s website.

For more photos of the “Opportunities in Energy” event, visit TAEBC’s Flickr account.

There were also several panel discussions during “Opportunities in Energy” ranging from talking about how big some of Tennessee’s advanced energy wins were this year to what the top advanced energy trends are, and the innovations that are transforming the advanced energy industry at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The event also featured the official launch of the Energy Mentor Network – a structured mentorship program specifically for energy entrepreneurs and startups in Tennessee, powered by Launch Tennessee and TAEBC.

ARiES Energy marked five years of success in East Tennessee by inviting colleagues, customers and friends to Five Bar in Downtown Knoxville.

ARiES Energy is a TAEBC member. The company strives to make clean energy easy, accessible, and affordable to its clients. ARiES Energy installs solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, LED lighting, power conditioning, energy efficiency products/services and biomass/waste-to-energy technologies for commercial businesses, residences and municipalities in the Southeast.

Previous Story: ARiES Energy, Signal Energy make 2016 Top 500 North American Solar Contractors List

During the anniversary celebrations, ARiES Energy President Harvey Abouelata made an announcement over his company’s growth revealing ARiES Energy will be expanding to South Carolina.

TAEBC had a chance to talk with Abouelata after the anniversary. If you don’t know, Abouelata founded ARiES Energy in 2011 to help communities transition into a new economic future, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable natural resources and zero waste.

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy (Credit: ARiES Energy)

As president he oversees sales, product development, and marketing of residential and commercial products and services for power production. He has extensive experience in business management, business planning, strategy, sales, marketing, promotions, public relations, implementation, and new technology brand identity with a concentration in the renewable energy field.

During his career in the solar industry, Abouelata has succeeded in bringing millions of dollars in grants to local companies and the state of Tennessee. He also made the decision to merge ARiES Energy in 2015 with PHG Energy (PHGE) and Thompson Machinery.

Abouelata has passion in his work, and it could be felt while TAEBC spoke with him briefly over the phone.

Q: Five years is a great milestone, when you look back are you pleased with your company’s success? 

A: Yes, absolutely. I feel we’ve achieved that ten-fold. Before ARiES Energy was born, the concept was novelty…maybe, kinda…everybody liked the idea…wasn’t sure it was possible. But here’s the thing, it’s relevant. Times are changing, and it’s exciting to see the hard work happening at ARiES Energy.

(L to R) Harvey Abouelata, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Erin Gill.

(L to R) Harvey Abouelata, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Erin Gill. (Credit: ARiES Energy)

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of the clean energy industry in Tennessee?

A: Ya know, it’s one of those feel good things. It’s exciting to go to work knowing it helps people and putting a big focus on economic development. You put that together there’s this creation that’s ultimately better for the environment. It’s something to be proud of. We have 18 people employed here at ARiES Energy and it’s almost like a pep rally. They (Employees) feel like they are making a difference in energy independence.

Another thing, it’s not just clean energy. It’s making it here in the U.S. It’s a very positive thing. Some people may take our mountains and lakes for granted, but I see it as ARiES Energy is protecting our precious resources.

(L to R) ARiES Energy President Harvey Abouelata speaking with Daniel Green and Jerry Askew.

(L to R) ARiES Energy President Harvey Abouelata speaking with Daniel Green and Jerry Askew. (Credit: ARiES Energy)

Q: ARiES Energy is growing the market for community and commercial solar projects, any specific projects that stick out that you’re proud of?

A: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! They’re all great! That’s not fair! Every one of our projects is exciting in its own unique way because it’s one step forward on the path to energy independence and helping the environment. I will say though, we have great clients. We’re blessed with who we work with. The momentum keeps building here, and our clients are taking it to the next level. Our clients are an extension of who we are as a company and as a team. But AEC partnering with us to build one of the largest community solar projects in Tennessee, that’s huge!

Q: Where do you see ARiES Energy going in the next five years? Any particular goals? You mentioned how the company is expanding to South Carolina at the 5th Anniversary…

A: We have a pretty aggressive expansion plan. Ever since we sold the company to PHG Energy and Thompson Machinery, we’ve got resources that have given us the luxury to expand. We’ve been spending a lot of time building a solid plan to South Carolina. We’re also considering expanding to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. Of course that’s all on the horizon for 2017. Every year we’ve doubled in sales, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t keep expanding. We’ve hired six people this year alone and what’s important to us is that all of our employees have high quality standards. I love when I walk in to work because our employees those are people I would pick as personal friends, not just employees.

Are you a TAEBC member with news to share? Contact and we’ll feature you and your company on the blog.