Repowering the US economy with clean jobs

(Originally posted on CleanTechnica)

Repowering the US economy with clean jobs must become a clear mandate for the US federal government. Before the COVID-19 crisis, millions of people in the US worked in clean energy. Clean energy is a major part of the economy of every state, employing workers in inner cities as well as rural areas, regardless of geography, politics. or natural resources. Small businesses—the essence of the US economy — are an integral part of clean energy employment. But despite how far the clean energy sector has come over the last 5 years, the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is quickly devastating businesses, workers, and projects from coast to coast.

Will lawmakers step up to create stronger, cleaner economy in the future? That will require bold ideas, big initiatives, and commonsense policies at both the state and federal levels.

A call-to-action within a new report, “E2: Clean Jobs America,” shows why it’s imperative for lawmakers to focus on clean energy in economic stimulus packages and other policies aimed at restarting the US economy. Clean energy has been one of the US economy’s biggest and fastest-growing employment sectors over the past decade, growing 10.4% since 2015.

Read more here.

There’s still time to apply for the Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is reminding you to apply for the Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program.

The program will assist public, non-profit, and private Tennessee-based fleets with the investment in and purchase of natural gas or propane-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The program, managed by TAEBC member TDEC, is limited to one application per grantee, per location.

The announcement comes as October is National Energy Awareness month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity and security.

In Tennessee, the transportation sector accounts for about 30 percent of all energy consumed. By reducing transportation related end-use energy consumption, we can improve our economy and energy security while also reducing emissions.


  • $2,500,000 is available under this competitive funding opportunity.
  • Each grant will provide up to 50% of the incremental purchase cost of eligible vehicles, with a maximum grant of $25,000 for each eligible vehicle.
  • The maximum amount that may be awarded to a grantee shall not exceed $250,000.


  • A project must propose to receive funding for a minimum of three vehicles.
  • Eligible vehicles must be purchased new, from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or OEM-authorized dealer. The vehicles purchased must be fully equipped by the manufacturer or by a third party at the direction of the manufacturer to operate on an alternative fuel prior to the initial purchase and registration of the vehicle.
  • Vehicles must be registered within the State of Tennessee, unless the vehicle is to receive International Registration Plan (IRP) apportioned registration. In the case of the latter, the entity applying for a grant must submit a letter, certifying the percentage of time that the vehicle is expected to operate within the State of Tennessee.
  • Eligible vehicles include dedicated compressed natural gas vehicles, dedicated liquefied natural gas vehicles, and dedicated propane-powered vehicles.
  • Vehicles must be classified as “medium-duty” or “heavy-duty,” and must therefore have a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 14,000 pounds. Examples of “medium-duty” vehicles that would be considered eligible are shuttle buses, delivery trucks, and some bucket trucks. Examples of “heavy-duty” vehicles that would be considered eligible are school buses, tractor trailers, and waste collection vehicles.
  • Applicants must intend to maintain operations in Tennessee for a minimum of six years.


Applications must be received by 8:00 pm CST on December 16, 2016. Acceptable delivery methods include: mail, express delivery service, hand delivery, or email. Awards are expected to be announced by January 16, 2017, and the expected timeframe for award negotiations will be March 2017.

Digital copies should be emailed to:

Hard copies should be mailed to:

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
The Office of Energy Programs – Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program
C/o Alexa Voytek
William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 2nd Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Application Documents:

Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program Application Manual
Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program Application (CN-1495)

If you have questions, please contact Alexa Voytek at or 615-532-0238.

TN Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report: Snapshot of media coverage

On June 17, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council released the Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report, the first document of its kind that defines the scope and scale of Tennessee’s advanced energy sector and quantifies its economic impact.

The report received statewide media coverage and recognition of advanced energy as an economic driver for Tennessee and a source of high quality jobs. It was distributed to more than 200 local, state and national economic development stakeholders.

Here’s a snapshot of the media coverage from the report release, with links to the full stories. Enjoy!

Tennessee could be a major player in $200B advanced energy economy (Knoxville News Sentinel)
“Tennessee is poised to take a significant chunk of the nation’s $200 billion advanced energy sector according to a new report from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council. The state’s advanced energy sector employs nearly 325,000 individuals…and the jobs pay well above the state average.”

Advanced energy industry grows in Tennessee (Chattanooga Times Free Press)
“Much of the growth in Tennessee is being driven by the automotive industry, which is working to reach a fleet average mileage standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.”

Report: Tennessee leader in ‘advanced energy’ (The Tennessean)
“’We see advanced energy as an economic driver, especially in rural areas,’ said Steve Bares, president and executive director of Memphis Bioworks Foundation.”

New report tracks Tennessee’s economic impact in ‘advanced energy’ sector (Kingsport Times-News)
“Advanced energy provides a home for Tennessee’s emerging workforce as the state attempts to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by 2025.”

Study: Advanced energy business contributes $33.4 billion to state GDP (Memphis Business Journal)
“Schneider Electric’s Jim Plourde said compiling the information was important for increasing visibility, highlighting Tennessee as a leader in the field, showcasing opportunities to an emerging workforce and driving the economy.”

Budding advanced energy sector grows in Tennessee (
“The [advanced energy] industry provides opportunities for entrepreneurs. A developing sector means ripe opportunities for new ideas and businesses.”

TAEBC releases first-ever look at state’s advanced energy sector (
“Advanced energy is a lucrative growth sector and a source of high quality jobs in the Volunteer State, according to a new report from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).”

Schneider Electric among state leaders in advanced energy sector (Daily News Journal)
“’National studies show rapid growth that outpaces the rest of the economy,’ said Matt Murray, with the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, which produced the report. He added it also found employment growth in the sector was more robust than any other sector from 2012 to 2013.”

Wind and Solar Power are Ready for Their Prime Time Appearance

A recent article by Jesse Jenkins and Alex Trembath published on The Energy Collective website takes a look at the growth of wind and solar power industries over the past few decades and aims to answer the question, “How far have we come exactly?”

The article states that the wind and solar power industries “are growing rapidly and are beginning to move the needle in global energy supplies.” In the past, renewable energy growth has been fueled by deployment subsidies and other support policies such as feed-in tariffs, tax credits and portfolio standards. But with the spark of public interest and investment in renewable energy adoption, the wind and solar industries have taken great leaps.

These great leaps have become apparent; from 2008 to 2013, wind turbines almost tripled the amount of electricity generated globally, while solar energy generation grew by more than ten times. Together, wind and solar jumped from providing 1.1 percent of the world’s electricity in 2008 to 3.3 percent in 2013. Tremendous growth, but in order to keep up with (or replace) coal and other fossil fuels, wind and solar will have to continue on this rapid growth pattern.

The questions many are asking now are: How much of a role will the renewable energy sector take, and how will it impact the energy system?

Many countries (U.S. included) are incorporating renewable energy by using an integrated grid system. This system allows countries or states to share energy depending on the energy needs of the region. An example of an integrated grid is seen in the Great Plains, Midwest, and in Arkansas and Louisiana; this regional energy market is called the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). So how does the integrated grid system work? One example: in 2014, Iowa generated 28.5 percent of its energy through wind power. This power was used throughout the MISO region and ended up supplying almost 6 percent of MISO’s power demands in 2014.

This growth is making a difference in our own backyards. Tennessee’s solar and wind industries are gathering steam, creating new sources of renewable energy and hundreds of jobs all over the state. Read TAEBC’s Roadmap for Tennessee’s Advanced Energy Economy to learn more about the roles that these two industries have in driving the state’s economy.

Source: A Look at Wind and Solar Energy, Part 1: How Far We’ve Come” by Alex Trembath and Jesse Jenkins

Three Distinctive Features of Tennessee’s Energy Economy: Part Two

Every state’s potential for the expansion of advanced energy technologies is shaped by economic factors and unique assets. TAEBC identified three distinctive features of Tennessee’s energy economy that together reflect the challenges and opportunities for the expansion of advanced energy technologies:

  1. High Per-Capita Energy Consumption
  2. A Gap in Personal Income
  3. The Potential of Three Major Players (and Who are They?)

In our last blog post, we elaborated on Tennessee’s high per-capita energy consumption, and for this post, we’ll focus on the gap in personal income.

While the size has fluctuated over the last three decades, there remains a historic gap between personal income in Tennessee and the national average. Although related indirectly to energy, this gap presents an opportunity in some regions of Tennessee to promote advanced energy as a vehicle for new companies and jobs.

While the U.S. per capita income rate grew by 72 percent between 1995 and 2010, income for Tennesseans increased by only 64 percent. Slower growth in Tennessee’s economy was accompanied by a reversal of the recent trend toward reaching the average U.S. per capita income. From the high water mark of 92 percent in 1995, Tennessee’s per capita income by 2012 had dropped to 88 percent of the national average, the lowest ratio in 17 years.[i]

Tennessee also required a longer period to recover from the economic deterioration that occurred from 2008-2010. The state’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent in March 2014 represented the first time Tennessee had matched the national jobless figure since 2008. Statewide rates of unemployment and personal income serve to distort Tennessee’s economic picture, in which some regions are doing quite well while others continue to perform far below the state average.

This income and employment disparity among Tennessee’s regions is part of the context for discussing the state’s potential for creating advanced energy technology jobs.

A growing number of financially constrained local governments are looking at distributed generation and energy savings performance contracts as ways of reducing utility costs. The private sector increasingly is looking to cleaner sources of energy as a means of meeting sustainability goals and assuming more control over electricity costs. Many rural communities burdened with sustained double-digit unemployment may be particularly receptive to the idea of transitioning the local economy to include more advanced energy jobs. Likewise, the state of Tennessee has considerable flexibility in authorizing incentives for companies to locate in communities of high unemployment. Laid against the backdrop of a $1.1 trillion global economic opportunity presented by advanced energy, the state’s economic profile, and in particular the need to promote new jobs in a number of depressed regions, will be important factors in future discussions of how best to encourage the continued growth of an advanced energy economy in Tennessee.

[i]SA1-3 Personal Income Summary. Bureau of Economic Analysis. U.S. Department of Commerce. Retrieved from