EU energy-focused delegation visits East Tennessee


About a dozen representatives of a European Union (EU) delegation focused on energy finish a three-day educational trip to East Tennessee with two meetings today.

They will be the program for the weekly meeting of the East Tennessee Economic Council this morning in Oak Ridge. After that presentation, they will finish the series of meetings with discussions at the University of Tennessee.

The group was in Chattanooga yesterday. On Wednesday, they visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory after being hosted by Nazzy and Hash Hashemian of Analysis and Measurement Systems Corporation (AMS) at a luncheon in Knoxville arranged by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC). The discussion included members of the TAEBC and the EU delegation.

This is a photo of the attendees at the event.

ORNL welcomes new entrepreneurial research fellows to Innovation Crossroads

Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed a second group of technology innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast’s only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Selected through a merit-based process, these scientists and engineers will have access to world-class science expertise and capabilities at ORNL, including Titan, the nation’s most powerful supercomputer; the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, DOE’s largest advanced manufacturing research center; and the Spallation Neutron Source, offering atomic-level insight into advanced materials. The innovators also will be partnered with a powerful network of mentoring organizations in the Southeast to help them develop business strategies to advance their breakthroughs to market.


TAEBC submits comments to TVA over 2018 rate change proposal

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council submitted the following comments to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) regarding its “2018 rate change draft environmental assessment (draft EA).”

To whom it may concern:

TAEBC champions advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy. We exist to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies, companies and jobs.

Our definition of advanced energy is technology neutral—anything that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient is in the tent. At its core, we look to energy innovation as an economic development opportunity.

Distributed generation certainly fits that definition. Specifically, our main audiences are commercial and industrial end users, as well as large entities like municipalities, hospitals, universities, etc. While these audiences all appreciate least-cost power, they also are demanding more control over costs, use and how that power is generated. All of which directly relate to business opportunities for our members and those companies in Tennessee’s advanced energy economy—which contribute $33B to Tennessee’s GDP, employ nearly 325,000 people, include more than 17,000 business entities and pay an average annual wage that exceeds the state average.[1]

Furthermore, TAEBC has seen Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies across the country and Tennessee commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency targets or establish sustainability goals.[2] To remain competitive at recruiting and retaining business and industry, we know the Valley must offer an attractive environment for these companies to meet their goals and deploy advanced energy technologies.

As an example, Facebook selected North Georgia, outside of the TVA territory, for a data center because of its solar energy program offerings.[3]

Therefore, TAEBC suggests the TVA Board take “no action” related to 2018 rate change draft environmental assessment for the following reasons:

  • It is increasingly evident that the businesses of the TVA service area want more advanced energy and distributed energy resources (DER) customer options – businesses, both current and potential recruits, want access to additional capacity for renewable options – the proposed rate change alternatives (B, C, and D) significantly provide uncertainty and disincentives for those existing customers to remain and expand their operations but also are a huge deterrent for new economic development prospects to procure and advance their renewables/sustainability/technology missions in the Valley, thus reducing TVA’s historical competitive advantage of being a low cost option and customer focused utility that, at its core in the TVA Act, is supposed to prioritize technology innovation and advancement, which is TAEBC’s mission and objective.
  • TVA has indicated it wants to increase technological innovation and investment – all actions B, C, and D deter investment from all DERs in the Valley by changing the volumetric rates materially and imposing fixed charges to deter consumer investment in what TVA describes as “uneconomic DER.” TVA does not define “uneconomic DER.”  A transparent valuation of various DER technologies is essential to determining both the environmental and economic impacts of DERs. 
  • The draft EA states that the purpose of the rate change is to better align wholesale rates with the “underlying costs” to serve, but the EA does not disclose, for example, how those costs are divided between grid transmission infrastructure and amortized capital expenditures for generation units. 
  • TVA has not indicated what level of DER adoption presents an issue for cost recovery or grid access – this appears to be a punitive and/or premature charge that is not needed or necessary given the current DER adoption at this time, pending further TVA data or analysis.
  • The draft EA states, “TVA’s current energy prices over-incentivize consumer installation of DER,” and the “imbalance created by uneconomic DER investment means that costs are shifted to consumers throughout the Valley who do not invest in DER.”  Supporting documentation is not provided for either of these assertions. Understanding the inputs to these statements are important factors to determining market conditions, consumer demand (end users), economic impacts, and potential cost-shifting. 

TAEBC believes TVA is an asset to our region. In fact, TAEBC supports TVA in reaching its goal of becoming the energy company of the future and we are committed to partnering with TVA to that end.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.


Cortney Piper

Vice President, TN Advanced Energy Business Council

606 W Main Street, Suite 250, Knoxville, TN 37902

P: 865-789-2669


Cc TAEBC Board of Directors

Matt Kisber, President
Steve Bares, Secretary

Tom Ballard, Immediate Past President

Jeff Kanel

Trish Starkey

Marc Gibson

Jim DeMouy

Mary Beth Hudson

Chris Bowles


[1] Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report (2015).

[2] More Companies Set 100% Renewable Energy Goals in 2017, Energy Manager Today (December 2017).

[3] Walton EMC Chosen to Serve New Facebook Data Center with Renewable Energy (March 2018).

ACMA launches Composites Recycling Conference in Tennessee

The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), Arlington, Virginia, has announced the conference program for its inaugural Composites Recycling Conference, set for April 10-12, 2018, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The conference program features the technology and business developments in composites recycling presented by leading experts from U.S. and around the world.

The conference program features panel discussions and presentations from notable companies, including Owens Corning, Ashland, Airbus and the Composite Recycling Technology Center. The program covers a range of topics and industry advancements in composites recycling, including the pyrolysis process capable of recovering glass and carbon fibers; recycling and reusing thermoplastic and thermoset carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRPs) in the aviation market; and state-of-the-art recycling technology.

Industry experts and business leaders will share new and existing incentives for recycling and waste reduction that are reducing costs and making the business case for composites recycling.

Additionally, the conference features preconference and postconference tours of leading institutes in the Knoxville area that focus on composites manufacturing and end-of-life recycling. Attendees will have the option to tour IACMI — The Composites Institute Lab at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Manufacturing Demonstration Facility as well as Local Motors. These tours offer an opportunity to see how government funded laboratories are addressing their challenges, ACMA says, including developing a robust and scalable composite recycling methodology as well as how a local manufacturer is creating products from recycled carbon fiber.

Read more here.

Passage of FY 2018 Omnibus Bill means more funding for DOE, ORNL programs

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) celebrated the conclusion of the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) appropriations process. The Omnibus bill, signed by President Trump, includes $34.5 billion in funding for the DOE.

Some highlights from the package include:

  • $6.3 billion for Science research programs
  • $2.3 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
  • $353 million for The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)

The DOE budget provides funding for critical priorities, including over $500 million to advance exascale computing and over $100 million for cybersecurity to protect electric grid and energy infrastructure.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the new spending deal provides a record 16 percent increase in funding for the Office of Science, which will support the work happening at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The passage of the spending bill also signifies a 15 percent increase to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s budget. At ORNL, vehicle technology research, building technologies, advanced manufacturing, weatherization and biomass fuel research all fall under EERE.

ARPA-E, a high-risk, high-reward, government research incubator, the budget deal boosts it by $47 million. ORNL participates in 11 ARPA-E projects, five of which it is the leader on.

It should be noted the bill also includes $50 million more than last year for advanced manufacturing. $20 million of that will fund ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and $14 million will fund ORNL and the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.

Click here for the full story from the Knoxville News Sentinel.