Schneider Electric hosts TAEBC Annual Meeting featuring Thomas B Ballard award, TVA DER progress

Another successful Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council Annual Meeting is in the books thanks to Schneider Electric.

In Franklin, TAEBC members, stakeholders and supporters gathered at Schneider Electric’s newest Nashville Hub and while there witnessed renowned Tennessee collaborator and partnerships builder Tom Ballard receive the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award named in his honor.

The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council champions the state’s advanced energy economy as an economic development and job creation strategy through sharing information, connecting stakeholders, and strengthening the industry. These pillars are personally exemplified by the tireless work of Tom Ballard, an unparalleled leader, educator, mentor, and advocate of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

TAEBC also announced the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award will be an annual award, accepting nominations every year and presenting the winner with the honor at future annual meetings.

Ballard stepped down as long time board member for TAEBC, and Ameresco’s own Steve Seifried was appointed by the board to fill Ballard’s vacancy.

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Utility & Microgrid Solutions Don Wingate, touched on the new energy landscape emerging with more microgrid implementation happening across the United States and how Schneider Electric came up with a new line of business after assisting Montgomery County, Maryland in successfully completing two advanced public safety microgrids dubbing it ‘Microgrid as a Service.’

Wingate explained the approach Schneider Electric took is very different from a purchase power agreement. “We gave them a price per kilowatt hour less than what they were paying,” said Wingate.

He also underscored the innovative approaches that the corporation is taking by describing Schneider Electric Ventures. “It’s a new way to harvest ideas,” Wingate said, adding that it “is far more than a typical venture capitalist.” The fund made five investments in 2018.

Attendees also heard from Chris Hansen, TVA’s Director of Pricing Strategy & Origination, who spotlighted the energy company’s efforts to meet renewable energy expectations of Google and Facebook for new data centers the companies were constructing in the Valley. Both global giants are known for their commitments to sustainability and clean energy.

Working together, the corporations and TVA developed something called the “Renewable Investment Agreement” that is a new model for TVA. It met all parties’ key requirements and also uncovered a more than expected availability of renewable energy sources to help ensure that the region does not miss out on these types of projects in the future.

At the end of the event, Schneider Electric hosted a technology showcase highlighting the company’s microgrid solutions, energy automation & control systems, and smart home technologies.

Credit: for parts of this blog post.

Final stages near for top Innovation Crossroads cohort three applicants

Final interviews will soon be underway for the Innovation Crossroads cohort three top contenders to determine if they’ll be joining the elite program.

Innovation Crossroads is a new program based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace.

Just last August, the Department of Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority announced their partnership to support the third cohort of these energy entrepreneurs. For the first time, TVA will provide funding to support Innovation Crossroads fellows focusing on energy-related topics such as grid reliability and emerging technologies.

Currently, there are eight startups enrolled in the program whose founders come from some of the most prestigious universities in the nation.

In this latest cohort, up to six innovators will be selected to receive the two-year post-doctoral entrepreneurial fellowship at ORNL worth nearly $500,000 that includes stipends, vouchers for collaborative research and development at ORNL, startup business guidance and mentoring, and health and travel benefits.

During the selection process, Innovation Crossroads team leaders received a record number of 60 applications, representing 28 states and 39 universities.

The final interviews will be conducted February 27 and February 28, with on-boarding scheduled to take place in May of this year.

Several Innovation Crossroads entrepreneurs are enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network, formed by TAEBC and Launch Tennessee, to provide non-exclusive business mentoring services to the innovators.

Drive Electric Tennessee outlines plan for Tennessee’s electric vehicle future in statewide Electric Vehicle Roadmap

Drive Electric Tennessee, a statewide electric vehicle (EV) consortium, hopes to make the Tennessee Valley a leader in EV transportation in the Southeast over the next decade.

Throughout 2018, state agencies, universities, utilities, advocacy groups, electric vehicle OEMs, and other stakeholders collaborated to define their outlook for Tennessee’s clean transportation sector. In January 2019, Drive Electric Tennessee released the culmination of its hard work, A Roadmap for Electric Vehicles in Tennessee.

The Roadmap offers guiding principles, goals, opportunity areas, and approaches to get more EVs on the road during the next 10 years. According to the report, Drive Electric Tennessee aspires to significantly increase EV adoption from less than 5,000 EVs in 2017 to 200,000 by 2028.

Guiding principles behind the Roadmap focus on economic development, social benefits, cost-effectiveness, and technology innovation. The report states EV adoption in the state will promote local and regional economic development, reduce environment impacts, foster entrepreneurship and technical innovation, and prepare for a more connected, autonomous transportation sector in near the future.

The Roadmap identifies four key opportunity areas to address major EV market gaps in the state. Drive Electric Tennessee will meet each goal through the implementation of 45 projects and 15 initiatives over the next decade. Each opportunity area is tied to high-level, clean transportation goals for Tennessee. These four opportunity areas and goals are:

  1. Driving Charging Infrastructure Availability: Develop a charging infrastructure that enables Tennessee residents to (1) drive and charge an EV in their daily lives (home, work, and public charging) or (2) access electric public transit options.
  2. Driving Awareness: Increase awareness and first-hand experience of the benefits of driving an EV such that the majority of vehicle owners are aware of EVs when they begin their next purchasing process.
  3. Driving Innovative and Supportive Policies: Create consistent, innovative, and supportive policies across Tennessee at the state, county, city, and utility levels, inclusive of incentives, electricity rates, planning standards, and other policies and programs.
  4. Driving EV Availability, Offerings, and Innovation: Make EV models viable, accessible, and comparable purchasing alternatives to traditional vehicles.

At TAEBC, we believe advanced energy solutions, such as clean transportation, lead to state job creation and economic development. This Roadmap emphasizes the importance of stakeholders coming together to help Tennessee become a leader in EV adoption in the next few years.

As our state leads the country in employment for automobile and vehicle component manufacturing, we already have the potential to become an integral force in this bright future of the transportation sector.

This potential turned into a reality in mid-January, when Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced that Volkswagen will build their first EV manufacturing facility in the country in Chattanooga.

The project will create 1,000 new jobs in Hamilton county and serves as an $800 million investment from Volkswagen. Remarking on this deal, Rolfe told The Times Press Press that he intends for Tennessee to be number one in the country for EV manufacturing.

Both the announcement and Drive Electric Tennessee’s report demonstrates how Tennessee is turning stakeholder interest in sustainable transportation solutions into an economic reality to benefit all Tennesseans.

Trends to watch in the energy transformation of 2019

(This post was originally published on GreenTechMedia)

2018 is over, and a new year of energy evolution is upon us.

The past year laid a robust foundation for growth in 2019. It ended with six states and territories, including two of the three largest state economies, committing to 100 percent clean electricity. The solar industry weathered the much-feared tariffs without excessive bleeding. The list of cleantech failures was much shorter than in previous years.

There’s still plenty of room to grow. Solar only accounts for 1.3 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and wind produces 6.3 percent. Grid edge technologies are helping the grid adapt, but they’re still in limited real-world use.

Keeping in mind that contrast between heady potential and modest achievement so far, we shall venture into the prediction game to identify key clean energy developments to come over the new year.

More states commit to clean

GTM’s Emma Foehringer Merchant dubbed 2018 the year of 100 percent clean energy. Watch for another wave of jurisdictions to follow the past year’s trailblazers.

In 2018, California joined Hawaii in legislatively committing to a carbon-free electricity system. Governors in New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico made their own executive commitments to that end. Washington, D.C.’s city council passed a target of 100 percent renewables by 2032.

For a while, debates over 100 percent clean energy policy broke down into intellectual tribalism, as different factions jostled over who had the better vision for a clean energy future. Meanwhile, skeptics could dismiss the whole exercise as a folly.

Read more on GreenTechMedia.

Reflecting on TAEBC’s 2018 accomplishments, what’s to come

We are just days away from welcoming in a new year, and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) is celebrating its 2018 achievements.

By championing advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy, TAEBC is positioning the state and its members to increase our leadership role in the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy market.

TAEBC wants to reinforce our commitment to our members and stakeholders:

  • Inform the national energy agenda.
  • Help Tennessee become the #1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.
  • Foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups.
  • Support TVA and our local power companies’ efforts to become the energy company of the future.

We look forward to our annual membership meeting in Nashville, but until then let’s reflect on our top accomplishments from 2018.

  1. Energy Mentor Network companies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads, Megan O’Connor, Co-founder & CEO, Nth Cycle and Anna Douglas, CEO, SkyNano, were named to the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 cohort from the energy sector. Congratulations to them!
  2. TAEBC released its 2018 Economic Impact Report, detailing how the advanced energy sector is so strong in Tennessee that it outperformed the state’s overall economy–employing nearly 360,000 Tennesseans at more than 18,000 businesses that contribute almost $40 billion to the state’s GDP. Read the latest report here.
  3. Stone Mountain Technologies became the second official graduate from the Energy Mentor Network. The company, based in Johnson City, Tennessee, has developed replacements for furnaces, boilers, and hot-water heaters that save 30-50% off heating costs for homeowners and light commercial building owners.
  4. TAEBC’s 2018 Annual Membership Meeting, hosted by Bridgestone, was headlined by Scott Becker, Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance for Nissan North America. His presentation focused on Nissan’s contribution to Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, the growth the company has experienced since its original decision to locate in Tennessee, and Nissan’s vision in future automotive technology. Members also had the opportunity to hear from TAEBC’s newest board members: Trish Starkey with Schneider Electric, Marc Gibson with UT, and Chris Bowles with Bradley.
  5. TAEBC had a full calendar year filled with events that engaged both members and stakeholders alike including:
    1. TAEBC Vice President Cortney Piper, Anna Douglas with Sky Nano and Launch Tennessee executives were at Tennessee’s Capitol Hill earlier this year for Innovation Week on the Hill, connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with legislators to discuss key challenges facing small businesses.
    2. TAEBC hosted an information session on distributed generation in the summer.
    3. About a dozen representatives from the European Union delegation focused on energy, visited Tennessee for a three-day educational trip. TAEBC arranged a luncheon at Analysis and Measurement Systems Corporation (AMS) in Knoxville for discussions on Tennessee’s unique advanced energy economy and how the EU could learn from the state’s energy model.
    4. TAEBC hosted a lunch and learn with TVA’s Jeff Smith, giving members the opportunity to have an open dialogue with the new board member.
    5. The Energy Mentor Network’s mentors had an opportunity to meet the Innovation Crossroads newly inducted second cohort at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and hear more about their exciting technologies and innovations.
  6. TAEBC Vice President Cortney Piper attended TenneSEIA’s Tennessee Valley Solar Conference where she participated in an “Economic Development and the Solar Supply Chain” panel.
  7. Opportunities in Energy 2018 featured a panel taking a deeper look inside TVA’s partnership with Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three, an update from TennSMART’s efforts on accelerating the development and deployment of new intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee, and power pitches from Energy Mentor Network companies as they presented their entrepreneurial solutions for our nation’s energy challenges!
  8. Welcome new members: Carter Hall, Core BioDevelopment, EnerNOC, GTA, Inc., Jane Pate, John Bruck, Randy Johnson, Ridgeline Venture Law, and Solar Site Design.
  9. The Energy Mentor Network has made significant progress since its founding in 2016. The Energy Mentor Network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Eight companies are actively enrolled in the network and more than 30 mentors are providing their expertise.
  10. TAEBC submitted comments to TVA in the spring for both the 2018 rate change proposal and the 2019 IRP.   

Save the date for the next TAEBC event, Tuesday, February 12, 2019 and help plan for a successful 2019!