Report spotlights importance of DOE to Tennessee economy and region

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation is an economic engine for the state of Tennessee, according to a report released by the East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC). The report studied the effects of DOE’s investment in Tennessee in fiscal year 2017.

This report details the scope and scale of DOE’s impact on Tennessee’s economy. It examined job creation, state GDP growth, private-sector procurements, payroll and pension disbursement, state and local tax contributions, and community development conferred on the state by DOE, as well as the ripple effects of this spending.

Key findings from the report include:

  • DOE’s economic impact on the state of Tennessee equals $5.6 billion.

           Tennessee’s gross domestic product increased by approximately $3.4 billion as a result of overall spending by DOE and its contractors. Additionally, $2.2 billion in total personal income was generated by DOE–related activities in the state.

  • More than 34,000 full-time jobs are supported by DOE activities, with a workforce that spans 50 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

           12,618 jobs were directly created by DOE and its contractors in Tennessee. An additional 21,878 jobs were generated by the indirect effects of DOE investment. For every one job created by DOE and its contractors, an additional 1.7 jobs were created across the state.

  • The private sector supports DOE’s missions in Oak Ridge.

           Of the approximately $1.1 billion in non-payroll spending from DOE and its contractors, more than $943 million went to Tennessee businesses for the procurement of raw materials, services, and supplies.

  • Over $32 million in state and local taxes were generated by DOE-related spending.

           A portion of these tax dollars enable the City of Oak Ridge to provide critical infrastructure to support DOE missions and also funds education and schools.

“This report confirms that the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation is critical to the state’s economic success,” ETEC president Jim Campbell said. “The men and women who work in Oak Ridge deploy science and engineering innovation to make Tennesseans’ quality of life better, our planet healthier and our nation safer.”

Beyond the billions in economic gain, the report confirmed substantial community and educational benefits from DOE’s presence in Tennessee. DOE and its contractors gave over $2.4 million in charitable donations in 2017. They contributed more than $627,000 to education initiatives in East Tennessee. DOE facilities in Oak Ridge attracted over 50,000 visitors, a number poised to grow from heritage tourism due to the recently announced Manhattan Project National Historical Park and History Museum to commemorate Oak Ridge’s role in ending World War II.

Oak Ridge is integral to our national security and nuclear nonproliferation efforts. It is home to leading scientists and researchers and nearly 2,300 patents and licenses, 127 of which were secured in 2017. State-of-the-art facilities enable these experts to conduct transformative science and technological research to tackle global dilemmas. These assets cement Tennessee’s stature in scientific leadership. Leading firms and experts in energy, nuclear technology, advanced manufacturing, computing and artificial intelligence are drawn to the region to partner with expertise found in Oak Ridge.

Research on DOE’s economic impact in the state of Tennessee in FY2017 was conducted in part by a Booz Allen Hamilton economist and initiated by the East Tennessee Economic Council.

To read the full report visit, https://eteconline.org/initiatives/doe-eis-fy17

Companies with aggressive sustainability targets expand facilities in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) is staying busy as more companies choose to expand into the Volunteer State with a focus on incorporating more advanced energy technologies into their facilities.

Within the month of June, both Gap Inc. and Stanley Black & Decker have announced to upgrade their existing facilities in Tennessee.

Gap Inc. representatives revealed the company would be investing $41.7 million in its Gallatin distribution campus. The new capital investment would go towards technology upgrades as Gap Inc. expands its online fulfillment capabilities.

This would create more than 500 jobs at the center in Sumner County, further strengthening economic development within the community.

Gap Inc. has set ambitious goals to foster cleaner global business by revealing back in January 2016 it would reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent from 2015 levels by the end of 2020. That announcement came after the company had already surpassed its previous goal of reducing emissions from 2008 levels by 20 percent by the end of 2015 across its U.S. operations.

To further enforce these goals, the clothing retailer released a statement following the current administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Gap Inc. remains committed to doing our part to act on climate. We will continue to work with like-minded businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders to support solutions that will create a more sustainable and economically strong future for the people and communities touched by our business around the world. It’s not only the right thing for the planet, but also the right path forward for business growth, job creation and human health.”

Stanley Black & Decker announced earlier this month the company would upgrade its existing facility in Jackson, Tennessee by investing $29 million into the location.

The industrial tool manufacturer will relocate new lines of production and product development to its facility in Madison County, creating approximately 255 new jobs.

Stanley Black & Decker has set sustainability standards of its own, by committing to reduce energy consumption within its facilities by 20% as well as reduce its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2015 levels.

Also for the sixth consecutive year, the company has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America. This list is recognized as a benchmark for investors.

Silicon Ranch Corporation looks ahead to growth following $55 million equity investment

TAEBC member Silicon Ranch Corporation (SRC), a leading U.S. developer, owner, and operator of solar energy plants located in Nashville, Tennessee, has closed on an equity investment round that raised in excess of $55 million.

Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager with over $57 billion in assets under management, led the round with a $40 million commitment on behalf of its clients. Partners Group was joined in this investment round by other Silicon Ranch shareholders, including the Greystone Infrastructure Fund managed by Greystone Managed Investments Inc., a Canadian investment management firm with over $30 billion Canadian dollars under management.

In closing this latest equity raise, Silicon Ranch attracted more than $165 million of new equity capital during the course of 2016. In April, the company announced a $100 million equity commitment from Partners Group on behalf of its clients, a platform investment that aligned the Swiss-headquartered firm with one of the fastest-growing independent power producers in the U.S.

TAEBC wanted to learn more about what this equity investment signifies for Tennessee as SRC looks ahead to a growing future in the solar power industry.

TAEBC interviewed SRC President and CEO Matt Kisber as well as SRC’s Chief Marketing Officer Matt Beasley about the investment.

Q: You all closed on an equity round of more than $55 million dollars led by Partners Group. And overall last year, SRC attracted more than $165 million of new equity capital. What does this mean for Tennessee in terms of the anticipated growth that’ll be coming from Silicon Ranch?

A: I think ultimately this reflects SRC leadership in an emerging solar industry by first of all executing a clear business strategy and then on top of that finding the right financial partners to support it. We have proven both of those things by more than doubling our operating capacity in 2016 and by closing these equity investments. We have proven you can base your company in Tennessee and be a successful player in the U.S. solar industry. We plan to continue to invest in Tennessee and recruit talented individuals to join our team in Nashville.

Solar provides a range of benefits to the communities we serve. Beyond the significant environmental benefits, solar also brings a genuine economic proposition and an economic development tool for communities to leverage.

Q: What new solar power goals and accelerated momentum is this investment inspiring within your office?

A: The $165 million will provide equity to grow our portfolio and explore opportunities in new markets. With our growth, we now develop and operate close to 300 MW of solar across the country, and we’ve more than doubled our staff.

We have 21 team members in our Nashville office, a lot of them were hired in 2016 during this watershed year in our company’s history. That wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our investors. We’ve got the financial resources we have today thanks in large part to our awesome partners, including Partners Group and Greystone Managed Investments. They have fully supported our growth by drawing on their own long track records of investment in our sector globally. They’re great partners.

Specific to our work in Tennessee, the Millington solar farm will be the largest solar power plant in the state once construction is complete in 2018. It will provide energy security, clean renewable power, and a range of economic benefits. We have worked in close partnership with the local industrial development board to maximize the positive benefit to their work on behalf of the community. Our work in Millington will also provide real benefits to the electrical infrastructure in the area.

Q: Where do you see Silicon Ranch Corporation ten years from now thanks to this equity investment?

A: Ten years from now the solar market in the U.S. will be much larger. I predict we will see tremendous growth throughout the country for solar. I predict the country will better embrace solar technologies, including battery storage.

The solar industry in the U.S. is in the midst of rapid, dynamic expansion, and Silicon Ranch is well positioned to play a meaningful role in its development. Solar will continue to be SRC’s primary focus, and we’ll be looking to scale our strong platform in the U.S. solar market. Here in Tennessee, we’ll look to grow our team in line with this growth and to support our position as a significant player in renewable energy.

We have the right ingredients for continued growth. We’ve got a good track record, a talented team, an active board, and great investors. In our six years, we’ve got solar projects in six states and have plans to expand into new markets over the next few years.

Q: Anything else?

A: While SRC plays a role in Tennessee’s economic development there are other companies in the community doing their part as well. Shoals Technologies Group in Sumner County, for example, manufactures “balance of systems” solutions and stands today as a leader in the renewable energy industry, exporting their products all over the world. So I think its fair to say that Tennessee has an important place in the solar global supply chain through the great work of a number of companies across the state.

TAEBC’s Cortney Piper speaks to Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association

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The Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association (ETEBA) hosted the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s (TAEBC) Cortney Piper during its monthly dinner meeting on August 28 at the Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff in Knoxville. Piper spoke about the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and its mission to promote advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy.

Piper presented the TAEBC Advanced Energy Asset Inventory and solicited feedback regarding the best ways the organization can foster the growth of our state’s advanced energy technologies, companies and jobs. She gave an in-depth explanation of TAEBC’s mission, plus how the organization promotes that mission through roundtables, listening sessions and other events.

Attendees asked stimulating questions about what the Federal government is doing to help Americans save money through advanced energy. Piper explained that Executive Order 13514 authorized the Federal government to enter into a minimum of $2 billion in performance-based contracts in Federal building energy efficiency. Individual agency sustainability plans are available here.

ETEBA is a non-profit trade association representing more than 250 small, large and mid-sized companies that provide environmental, technology, energy, engineering, construction and related services to government and commercial clients. Its mission is to promote the success of its members by fostering market understanding, identifying business opportunities and advocating for our common interests.