Big on ideas, short on financing options?

TAEBC had the pleasure of participating in a workshop at the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy this week to brainstorm energy policy ideas and topics for consideration in the context of a state energy plan. The workshop complements a Baker Center project funded by the State of Tennessee to create a state energy benchmark profile as a prelude to a potential state energy plan development effort. Special thanks to Representative John Ragan, Chair of the House Energy Task Force, for his leadership on this issue and starting the discussion with stakeholders.

After hosting more than a half dozen listening sessions across the state this year, we know our members and the advanced energy industry have important information to share regarding policies to expand and strengthen the industry. We put much of that information in A Roadmap for Tennessee’s Advanced Energy Economy.

As you would expect, a lot of our discussions at the Baker Center focused on playing to Tennessee’s advanced energy assets and financing mechanisms for our great ideas.

One resource that TAEBC learned about during our recent visit to Washington D.C. is the “Guide to Federal Financing for Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Deployment,” updated October 1, 2014: a resource guide that lists the various federal financing programs for which energy efficiency and clean energy qualify — meant to make it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.

A priority for TAEBC is to identify financing mechanisms for advanced energy projects and inform policy that expands the industry, so stay tuned for more information.

Oak Ridge National Lab to help EPB improve Chattanooga’s smart grid

The City of Chattanooga’s smart grid is about to get even smarter with the help of the Oak Ridge National Lab.

The Oak Ridge National Lab, the U.S. Department of Energy and the city-owned EPB signed an agreement this week for DOE researchers and computer experts from Oak Ridge to help EPB better analyze and control the volumes of data gathered continuously from the utility’s fiber-optic network attached for the past couple of years to Chattanooga’s electric grid.

“This partnership is real and we intend to move forward immediately in ways that hopefully can improve the reliability and efficiency of our electric system,” EPB Chairman Joe Ferguson said today after signing a memorandum of understanding to work with DOE and ORNL.

Chattanooga boasts the fastest citywide Internet links of any city in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to the federally-funded EPB fiber optic network. EPB got $111.6 million in federal stimulus funds nearly five years ago to help build its fiber optic network across its 600-mile service territory. EPB has installed more than 1,100 IntelligRuptors, which are smart grid devices that both alert system controllers of power problems and isolate outages.

EPB President Harold DePriest said the smart grid has already helped reduce outage times in Chattanooga by 60 percent and with Oak Ridge assistance, he hopes to identify new ways to make the grid smarter, more reliable and even faster.

EPB’s smart grid gathers meter readings from users once every 15 minutes, or nearly 3,000 times more often than the manual monthly meter readings used in the past. The Oak Ridge laboratory, which boasts one of the fastest and biggest computers in the world, will provide engineering scholars at EPB to study, sort and analyze the data from the smart grid. ORNL Lab Director Thomas Mason said such data analysis should not only help EPB get better but to develop systems to help electricity providers improve around the country.

Read the full story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press here.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press

TAEBC Energy Manufacturer’s Roundtable

TAEBC reconvened participants from the Knox County Mayor’s manufacturer’s energy roundtable to talk more about energy challenges and opportunities the industry faces in Knox County.

Joining TAEBC at the RAMP conference were:

  • Dean Lee, Head Location Management, Siemens
  • Kennon Rollins, Engineering Manager, Keurig Green Mountain
  • Ben Armijo, Utilities Manager, Dow Chemical

As an end-use sector, manufacturing is the most diverse in the U.S. economy in terms of its energy sources, foundational technologies, and the products manufacturing produces. So, integrating advanced and energy efficient technologies into operations and process or end products, can help give our manufacturers a competitive edge.

All three representatives stressed the need for trusted partners, peer-to-peer information sharing and methods to reduce risks when they consider deploying a new, more efficient technology or process at their plant.

TAEBC’s Advanced Energy Asset Inventory provides a great first access point to manufacturers looking to deploy more efficient processes or technologies. During our visit to Washington D.C. to meet with the U.S. Department of Energy, we learned of several programs and technical assistance resources available to manufacturers. One in particular that assists with peer-to-peer learning is the Better Plants Challenge.

TAEBC continues to engage with the ten manufacturers from the summer roundtable to develop projects that can help our manufacturers gain more control of their energy costs. Stay tuned!

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Join TAEBC at the RAMP conference in Knoxville, Tuesday, October 7

The “AM” in RAMP stands for advanced manufacturing-Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. There is no “E” for energy to be found in that acronym so, some of you might be wondering why TAEBC is participating in an advanced manufacturing event. Here’s why: energy plays a very important role in manufacturing and manufacturing (especially automotive) is an economic driver for the state.

As an end-use sector, manufacturing is the most diverse in the U.S. economy in terms of its energy sources, foundational technologies, and the products manufacturing produces.

The U.S. Department of Energy describes advanced manufacturing in this way—efficient, productive, highly integrated, and tightly controlled processes that have the potential to fill the innovation gap between research and full “to scale” industrial production. Energy use is an integral part of this process, as are the end products advanced manufacturing produces that enables the cleaner, safer and more efficient consumption of energy.

A number of indicators suggest a gradual and sustained growth in jobs associated with the manufacture, installation and operation of advanced energy technologies, as discussed in A Roadmap for Tennessee’s Advanced Energy Economy.

Plus, an increasing number of innovative technologies will be commercially available over the next five years. Tennessee has an enormous inventory of advanced energy technologies at or near commercial viability. The presence of research capabilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, an innovation platform provided by TVA’s role as the nation’s largest utility, and the desire for greater energy efficiency among the state’s automobile manufacturing sector, together form a unique opportunity to test advanced energy technologies and push them into the marketplace

So, that’s why TAEBC is moderating a manufacturer’s energy roundtable at the 2014 RAMP Trade Conference and EXPO, Tuesday, October 7, 8:00 AM at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. Our roundtable will bring together Knox County manufacturers from the TAEBC summer listening session with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and revisit our discussion about energy challenges and opportunities facing our manufacturers.

Guest blog: Turning Heat Into Power

By Jessica Lubetsky, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Each year, U.S. utilities and factories send enough energy in the form of heat up their chimneys to power all of Japan. That heat, when captured and processed through proven industrial efficiency technologies, can be put to work heating or cooling buildings and/or generating additional electricity. Making use of otherwise wasted heat makes U.S. industries more competitive, enhances energy security, and creates skilled jobs.

Combined heat and power (CHP) technologies, which produce heat and power from a single fuel source, double the efficiency of central power generation Waste heat to power (WHP), on the other hand, captures wasted heat from an industrial process and uses it to make electricity with no additional combustion. Because of their efficiency, CHP and WHP dramatically reduce costs and lower energy use.

A significant increase in industrial energy efficiency could create as many as 1 million skilled jobs and attract more than $200 billion in private investment over 10 years.

These efficient technologies generate power where it is used, a practice known as distributed power that can protect businesses and institutions from unexpected outages. CHP systems with the ability to operate independently from the grid can maintain power when the grid is down, ensuring facility productivity during storms and other energy-security-related incidents.

To get an idea of the scale of what’s at stake, consider this: The United States has the capacity to generate 82 gigawatts of electricity through industrial efficiency technologies—about 12 percent of total U.S. production. Tennessee’s large industrial load makes the state well suited for adding as much as 8 gigawatts of CHP – one of the highest potentials in the country.

The good news is that in 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order setting a national generation goal of an additional 40 gigawatts of industrial energy efficiency through technologies such as CHP and WHP. Although this initiative is a step in the right direction, critical policy changes are needed to ensure that the U.S. meets and exceeds this target.

Currently, companies that invest in some CHP projects can benefit from an investment tax credit, but eligibility restrictions prevent larger industrial users from accessing this incentive. In addition, WHP projects do not qualify for the credit. With small modifications, such as removing size limitations and adding WHP as a certified technology, more companies could install these systems and increase the U.S. manufacturing sector’s efficiency and global competitiveness.

Jessica Lubetsky is an officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ clean energy initiative where she manages industrial energy efficiency policy and investment research reports.