TAEBC founding board member, Dan Hurst of Strata-G, sells company to employees

Dan Hurst, CEO and Founder of Knoxville-based Strata-G, has sold his company to two of his longtime vice presidents. Elliott Barnett will assume the position of CEO, and John Patterson will serve as president. Strata-G is a valued member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, while Hurst is a founding board member.

“These guys that have been with us 15 years are natural leaders, they know our business, they’ve built and are committed to our culture,” Hurst told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “We just had to figure out the right financial mechanism and details of business to make it work, and we did. I think we’ve done it in a way that we’re proud of each other for and thankful a lot for.”

Hurst founded the small business with senior engineer Darrell Daugherty in 2002. The engineering firm now has 250 employees and is ranked as the largest veteran-owned business in East Tennessee by the Knoxville News Sentinel‘s Book of Lists. Last year, Strata-G was named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dream Big Small Business of the Year

This sale has been a couple years in the making and will allow Hurst to focus most of his time on long-term strategy and outreach, while Daugherty will still serve as lead engineer until a new successor is appointed. 

“Succession is a fun word,” Hurst said. “We’re all succeeding together, and we’re doing it by them not kicking us over the hill; that’s in our benefit and theirs. The fact that we’ve got a path that lets all that ‘juice’ stay in the company, I think, is useful.”

TAEBC awarded Hurst the annual Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award during the Annual Meeting on March 5, 2020, at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub. The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

“As a founding board member of TAEBC, Dan Hurst embodies the qualities of a servant leader,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director 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.”

To learn more about Strata-G and its commitment to pursuing advanced energy projects that improve Tennessee’s communities, contribute to the state’s advanced energy economy, and ensure the wellbeing of Tennesseans, click here.

Passage of FY 2018 Omnibus Bill means more funding for DOE, ORNL programs

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) celebrated the conclusion of the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) appropriations process. The Omnibus bill, signed by President Trump, includes $34.5 billion in funding for the DOE.

Some highlights from the package include:

  • $6.3 billion for Science research programs
  • $2.3 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
  • $353 million for The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)

The DOE budget provides funding for critical priorities, including over $500 million to advance exascale computing and over $100 million for cybersecurity to protect electric grid and energy infrastructure.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the new spending deal provides a record 16 percent increase in funding for the Office of Science, which will support the work happening at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The passage of the spending bill also signifies a 15 percent increase to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s budget. At ORNL, vehicle technology research, building technologies, advanced manufacturing, weatherization and biomass fuel research all fall under EERE.

ARPA-E, a high-risk, high-reward, government research incubator, the budget deal boosts it by $47 million. ORNL participates in 11 ARPA-E projects, five of which it is the leader on.

It should be noted the bill also includes $50 million more than last year for advanced manufacturing. $20 million of that will fund ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and $14 million will fund ORNL and the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.

Click here for the full story from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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 (Nooga.com)
“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 (Teknovation.biz)
“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.”

TVA releases energy plan, holds public meetings

Last Monday, March 9, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) released a draft of its 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The draft long-range energy plan aims to find the best mix of energy sources TVA can rely on over the next 20 years to meet anticipated power demands.

TVA began taking public comments on March 13 and will continue through April 27 as it works toward producing a final version of the plan to be presented to the TVA board this summer.

The comment period will include public meetings and a chance to submit comments to TVA online. A copy of the draft IRP and a related Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement are online at www.tva.com/environment/reports/irp.

A public meeting is being held today in Chattanooga (March 19). Other meetings will be in Knoxville, April 6; Huntsville, Ala., April 9; Tupelo, Miss., April 14; Memphis, April 15; Nashville, April 21; and Bowling Green, Ky., April 22.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel

Just call him Ernie

Secretary Moniz at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Secretary Moniz at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander introduced U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to a packed auditorium at the University of Tennessee Law School by telling the audience, “he likes to be called Ernie.”  It’s fitting. Especially for a man whose most distinguishing feature is his wavy mop of mostly white hair. He once told the Knoxville News Sentinel he thought all the attention paid to his hair was, “absolutely excellent!”

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) was on-site to not only see that hair in person, but to also listen to the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist discuss the Administration’s “all of the above” energy policy.

It was exciting to hear the Secretary gush about Tennessee’s role (in particular Oak Ridge National Lab) in meeting our nation’s energy challenges. The challenges and opportunities Moniz described are the reasons why we created the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council–to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy.

We might be a little biased but, we think Tennessee is uniquely positioned to meet those challenges and gain its (more than) fair share of the $1 trillion global advanced energy market.

Economic assets that are unique to our state will shape the potential for the expansion of advanced energy technologies in Tennessee. Oak Ridge National Lab and the close relationship it enjoys with the University of Tennessee is certainly one of those assets.

Our ability to understand what our unique assets bring to the discussion, as well as their willingness to combine these assets in support of advanced energy technologies will, to a large extent, shape the opportunities for expansion of the industry in Tennessee. That’s the role TAEBC seeks to fill.

Catch highlights from Ernie’s lecture on our twitter feed (tweet from May 25 pictured below) or check out the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy website for his complete remarks.

Secretary Moniz was at the University of Tennessee last month to provide the Baker Distinguished Lecture on Energy and the Environment.

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