TVA seeks public input on flexible power generation until May 4, TAEBC to submit comments

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) about its decision to allow local power companies (LPCs) to add flexible generation options. The utility is seeking public input on the draft until May 4, 2020. TAEBC intends to submit comments. If you have any questions or comments for TAEBC, please email TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper.

In February, the TVA Board of Directors approved a set of principles allowing the 138 LPCs that have signed long-term partnership agreements with TVA to generate up to 5 percent of their average energy needs for customer use. This locally generated energy could derive from solar, wind, biomass or other small forms of distributed generation.

TVA’s draft EA evaluates the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of two alternatives: no action and implementing the flexibility option. In the draft, TVA states the utility would benefit from the flexibility because “it would enhance the Valley’s energy resource diversity and would be responsive to customer demand for renewable energy resources.”

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in Tennessee. This flexibility proposal allows local power companies to offer new renewable energy options to customers, which helps strengthen the role of advanced energy in the region.

Due to current federal work requirements due to COVID-19, TVA recommends the public submit comments electronically to ensure their review and consideration. Learn more about the flexibility proposal or how to submit comments here

TAEBC wants your feedback, highlights resources for small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

During this time of crisis, TAEBC is continuing to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy for the state and provide businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to weather this storm. 

To start, TAEBC wants your feedback about what the industry needs to remain solvent and thrive. What could your business use or need in a second round of federal stimulus? Please send your feedback to TAEBC here by email.

“Even in these challenging times, TAEBC continues to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy for the state,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “We are committed to our members and stakeholders in fostering the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups.”

As one of TAEBC’s missions is to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups, we want to provide resources small businesses and entrepreneurs can use during this crisis. See the resources from Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) below:

LaunchTN’s COVID-19 Updates, Resources and Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform
LaunchTN has created a special webpage which includes guidance from health officials, updates from statewide network partners, resources to support small businesses and startups, webinars and other virtual learning opportunities, and other information as needed. Browse the list of resources here.

LaunchTN is also partnering with Governor Bill Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command to invite proposed solutions to the critical challenges the state now faces. Companies, including entrepreneurs and startups, are encouraged to submit proposals via the Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform, which will allow them to evaluate, perform due diligence and recommend selected solutions to state procurement specialists for fast-track treatment.

All innovators are invited to participate, regardless of whether they’re able to scale at the level needed right now. This long-term project will address immediate needs and continue to serve the state far into the future.

SBA Disaster Assistance
Tennessee small businesses are now eligible for disaster assistance from SBA. Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may apply for up to $2 million in federal assistance to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. To learn more about the application process and loan parameters, click here. To apply, follow this link.

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
The programs and initiatives found in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. There are many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that are available from the SBA to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

TVA now accepting proposals for 200MW of renewable energy

TVA is now accepting proposals to develop 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy that can be brought online by the end of 2023. The deadline for proposal submissions is April 24. 

According to the Request for Proposal, the utility is interested in procuring up to 200 MW of new stand-alone renewable energy resources or renewable energy plus battery energy storage systems, including all the associated environmental attributes. 

TVA procured more than 1,300 MW on behalf of customers through similar requests for proposals in 2018 and 2019. According to the utility, large-scale solar costs 80 percent less than private-scale solar and delivers the best value for renewable energy across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

Recently, the TVA Board of Directors approved six flexibility principles in its February meeting that may grant local power companies the ability to buy or generate power on their own. Previously, TVA sought public input on the potential environmental impacts of a 150-MW solar project in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The power provider entered into an agreement with Elora Solar, LLC to purchase power generated by the proposed solar facility.

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in the state. This move allows TVA to provide more clean, reliable energy for their customers.

The utility provider will announce the selected proposals in fall 2020. To review TVA’s RFP and submit bids, visit this link

Submit nominations for the 2020 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards!

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) are accepting nominations for the 2020 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards (TSTAs) from now until Friday, June 19. Winners will be honored at the Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo later this year. Submit your nominations here.

The TSTAs recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of the state’s transportation systems. In the judging criteria, TDEC and TDOT ask nominees to provide information about how their project addresses one or more of the following areas:

  • Innovation: How the project utilized new thinking or creative approaches to meet a particular transportation challenge
  • Best Practices and Replicability: How the project demonstrates a transferable solution, such that others could adopt or implement similar programs or initiatives
  • Changes in Transportation Behavior: How a project worked to encourage or achieve changes in transportation behavior in order to make a transportation system more efficient
  • Improvements to Public Health, Resilience, and Safety: How a project creates improvements to public health, well-being, or safety in a given community
  • Equity and Access: How the project provides sustainable transportation benefits to all community members and creates accessible mobility solutions for diverse audiences

Regarding eligibility requirements, all project must:

  • Eligible entities include federal, State (excluding divisions under TDEC and TDOT), and local governments; commercial, non-profit, and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities.
  • Projects must be located within or have occurred in Tennessee. A project that is part of a regional or national initiative must have a significant Tennessee nexus.
  • Projects must have been completed in the last five years. 
  • Nominees must have a minimum of three consecutive, current years of exceptional environmental compliance with TDEC.
  • Applicants must agree to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published by the State of Tennessee and/or the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Projects that were awarded a TSTA in the past may not be awarded again, unless significant changes to the project have occurred in the interim.

TAEBC recently heard from TDEC Commissioner David Salyers at our Annual Meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub, where he discussed how the state is moving swiftly to promote electric vehicle adoption and increase charging infrastructure availability.

Check out the list of 2019 TSTA winners here. If you have questions about the TSTAs, please contact OEP Senior Program Manager Alexa Voytek at Alexa.Voytek@tn.gov or 615-532-0238.

TAEBC Annual Meeting 2020 highlights transportation electrification initiatives, advanced energy leadership

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) held another successful Annual Meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub earlier this month.

TNECD Commissioner and TDEC Commissioner Featured speakers included Commissioner Bob Rolfe of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) and Commissioner David Salyers of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), who spoke about electric vehicles (EV) and their role in Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

The event kicked off with TAEBC awarding Dan Hurst, CEO and founder of Strata-G, with the second-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award, which honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. Last year, the inaugural award went to Ballard himself.  

“As a founding board member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Dan Hurst embodies the qualities of a servant leader,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director and Vice President of TAEBC. “His dedication and commitment to building a new organization that represents an entire industry that makes Tennessee a better state in which to live, work and play is truly admirable. That same vision and devotion have enabled Dan to lead and grow a successful business in East Tennessee that embraces energy innovation, environmental stewardship and sustainability.”

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Power Products, Emily Heitman, welcomed TAEBC to Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub and reinforced the company’s commitment to doing business in Tennessee. Her presentation was followed by Piper, who outlined TAEBC’S top achievements in 2019 and emphasized the organization’s goals and priorities moving into 2020. 

Next, Silicon Ranch Corporation’s Director of Regenerative Energy and Land Management, Michael Baute, spoke about the company’s holistic approach to solar power plant design, construction, and operations. Since launching Regenerative Energy with one 52-acre project in 2018, the program has grown exponentially with 31 projects on 5,923 acres throughout five states this year.

On TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network Panel, Helge Nestler, Founder and President of Ginko Technologies, pitched his startup and mission to accelerate the use of sustainable waste treatment methods to reduce landfills and recover energy from waste. Afterwards, he was joined by Ira Weiss, Energy Mentor Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence and principal of Weiss Associates, for a panel discussion about Nestler’s entrepreneurial journey and value of the Energy Mentor Network program for startups like Ginko Technologies.

Later, Drew Frye, Senior Power Utilization Engineer at TVA, spoke about EV trends and the utility’s EV strategy for the state. In addition to providing a 10-year snapshot of the role of EVs from 2010 until now, Frye highlighted TVA’s role with Drive Electric Tennessee and what is next on the horizon for TVA, including improving charging infrastructure, enhancing consumer awareness, promoting supportive EV policies, and ensuring EV availability. 

Commissioner Salyers also spoke about Drive Electric Tennessee and the continued development of a statewide EV charging network. He reinforced TDEC’s commitment to providing a cleaner, safer environment and support for technologies that reduce emissions and improve air quality. Through its electrification efforts, “TDEC seeks to improve transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions, and strengthen the resiliency of the transportation sector.”  

“Our vision for Tennessee is to become a leader in the electric transportation space,” remarked Salyers. “Electric vehicles have the potential to make our transportation system both more efficient and more resilient. We are excited to continue working alongside our fantastic partners to achieve these benefits.”

During Commissioner Rolfe’s TNECD update, he emphasized how the agency’s “first job” is to create high-quality jobs for Tennesseans. His second job, explained Rolfe, is to make sure the companies that call Tennessee home “are happy,” such as Volkswagen, Nissan, and others who are focused on EV efforts. 

“We’re going to focus on recruiting companies to Tennessee that are focused on the electric vehicle business because we think it’s here to stay,” said Rolfe. “For Tennessee to remain number one in the southeast, we’re going to be doubling down on those efforts.”

After their presentations, Saylers and Rolfe held a joint Q&A session, where they answered a range of audience questions. For example, when asked what TAEBC can do to support the state’s efforts in propelling electrification efforts further, Saylers emphasized the importance of workforce development programs that promote technical training for jobs that support the state’s advanced energy economy.

Rolfe echoed Sayler’s statements, adding, “a lot of good things are happening in Tennessee, but what we can continue to do is to make it the most inviting, business friendly state to come do business in.”