New Administration nominates four new TVA Board members

This week, President Joe Biden announced four nominations for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of Directors. This announcement follows the appointment of Beth Harwell and Brian Noland last year by former President Donald Trump.

The nominees include:

Beth Geer

Beth Prichard Geer is Chief of Staff to former Vice President Al Gore and serves as a member of Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. Geer has extensive policy and outreach experience on issues including climate change, environmental justice, and regenerative agriculture. She has served in senior roles in the Clinton-Gore White House, Department of Labor, and United States Senate. As a native of rural Tennessee, she graduated with honors from Middle Tennessee State University and earned the Public Leadership Executive Certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Managers in Government program.  She resides in Brentwood, Tennessee with her husband, Dr. John Geer.

Robert Klein

Robert P. Klein is a lifelong resident of Chattanooga having attending Hamilton County public schools graduating from Tyner High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and National Beta Club.  He also attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Klein served in the Tennessee Army National Guard where received an Honorable Discharge.

He began his professional career at the Chattanooga Gas Company before continuing at the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (now EPB) where he worked in the Overhead Line Department.  He completed the Joint Lineman Apprenticeship Program becoming a Journeyman Lineman in 1982.  He furthered his career by becoming a Line Foreman supervising the building and maintaining of the power distribution system. Klein took a leave of absence with EBP to work with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 175 and was appointed in 1998 as an International Representative with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).  In 2003 he was appointed as the International Vice President of the IBEW Tenth District, which consists of Tennessee, Arkansas, North and South Carolina.  He was re-elected as Vice President at the 37th and 38th IBEW International Conventions.

During his career Klein has served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the United Way of Chattanooga, Board of Directors for the Tennessee Labor-Management Conference, Board of Directors for the Tennessee Safety and Health Congress, sat on the Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council, where is served as President for fourteen (14) years.  He also sat on the Tennessee Valley Authority Labor -Management Committee as well as on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Labor-Management Public Affairs Committee.  Additionally, he was a Trustee for the IBEW-NECA Family Medical Healthcare Plan.  He officially retired from EPB in 2011 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 2015.

Kimberly Lewis

Kimberly Caudle Lewis of Huntsville, Alabama, is the Chief Executive Officer of PROJECTSYZ, Inc., a business that provides services and products in the areas of engineering, logistics, technical services, manufacturing, and international foreign military sales. She leads a workforce that supports federal and commercial customers across several diverse subsidiaries and at locations across the US and around the world. Lewis has a 25-year career spanning business operations and management, technology, and federal government contracting.

A life-long resident of Madison County, Alabama, Lewis would later become the first black female elected as Board Chair of the Huntsville / Madison Chamber of Commerce and most recently, the first minority owner of North Alabama’s only locally owned broadcast television station, WTZT-TV.

Lewis’ previous career roles and studies in healthcare and information technology set the foundation for starting PROJECTXYZ and where she was previously involved in management of large-scale IT implementations and projects for large healthcare companies. She earned a degree in Computer Information Systems at John C. Calhoun State Community College.

Michelle Moore

A social entrepreneur and former White House official with roots in rural Georgia, Michelle Moore is a purposeful leader with a passion for connecting clean energy with economic growth. Her passion for community power and getting good stuff done is rooted in her faith and the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Moore currently serves as CEO of Groundswell, a nonprofit that builds community power through community solar, clean energy, and resilience programs that share power, savings, and economic opportunity with more than four thousand families. Her accomplishments range from building the global green building movement as a senior executive with the U.S. Green Building Council to leading the sustainability and infrastructure delivery teams for the Obama Administration.

Moore got her start in sustainability in 1997 as Director of eBusiness for Interface Inc. in her hometown of LaGrange GA, where working for Ray Anderson showed her how to connect people, planet, and profitability and the pathway to “doing well by doing good.” Moore is married to Linwood Boswell, a local music mainstay, father of three, and community real estate agent in Richmond, Virginia.

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TennSMART Spring Meeting

The convergence of mobility and technology is happening meets in Tennessee. TennSmart, a Tennessee-based consortium of top transportation executives, research institutions, and government officials, is leading the way by providing information-sharing platforms for organizations and individuals seeking to advance transportation technology and bring efficient new modules to market.

On May 17 from 9AM to 6PM CST, TennSmart will gather in Nashville, bringing thought leaders from the public and private sectors together to accelerate the development and deployment of new intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee.

Register here.

TennSmart member meetings will foster needs assessments and strategic planning in the five areas below:

  • Connected and automated vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Cybersecurity
  • Freight efficiency
  • Multimodal commuting

The meeting stands to spark the imagination of those in the mobility industry, offering real-world solutions and partnerships that foster the development of transportation technology.

Bridgestone Americas hosts TAEBC Annual Meeting featuring Nissan, new board members

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council wrapped up another successful Annual Meeting in Nashville thanks to Bridgestone Americas.

Bridgestone Americas recently moved into a brand new building in downtown Nashville deemed the Bridgestone Tower. The 30-story high-rise building provided a remarkable venue and demonstrated Tennessee’s surge in its advanced energy economy.

Attendees heard from featured guest 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 providing good-paying jobs for Tennesseans and the growth the company has experienced since its original decision to locate to Tennessee.

He also discussed Nissan’s corporate vision striving for Zero Emissions through its electric vehicles and Zero Fatalities through its autonomous drive technologies, all leading back to the Nissan LEAF.

Scott Becker presenting during TAEBC Annual Meeting.

Members also had the opportunity to hear from TAEBC’s newest board members in a panel moderated by Vice President Cortney Piper. Trish Starkey with Schneider Electric, Marc Gibson with UT, and Chris Bowles with Bradley were all formally appointed to serve on TAEBC’s board.

The newest board members were asked a variety of questions including what their thoughts were on Tennessee’s current advanced energy economy, outlooks for the future, and what areas within the state’s advanced energy ecosystem they felt could use improvement.

More: TAEBC welcomes newest board members Trish Starkey, Marc Gibson and Chris Bowles

TAEBC joins Launch Tennessee for inaugural ‘Innovation Week on the Hill’

Launch Tennessee executives were at Tennessee’s Capitol Hill early February connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with legislators to discuss key challenges that small businesses face today.

“Innovation Week on the Hill” on February 5-8 was packed with special events, meetings and meaningful connections between policymakers and job creators.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Life Science Tennessee, Nashville Tech Council, and EO Nashville collaborated with Launch Tennessee on this first-of-its-kind event to bring entrepreneurship and innovation to the forefront of Tennessee’s legislative process.

This shared effort resulted in:

  • 390 entrepreneur & innovator exchanges with legislators
  • 106 meetings held with legislators
  • 250+ legislative reception attendees

(L to R): Lindsey Cox, Dir. of Operations and Government Affairs at Launch Tennessee; Anna Douglas, Founder of SkyNano Technologies; State Rep. John Ragan, District 33; Cortney Piper, Vice President of TAEBC

During “Innovation Week on the Hill,” Launch Tennessee shared its success with lawmakers in helping increase the number of Tennessee angels since the State Legislature’s passage of the Tennessee Angel Tax Credit in 2016. If you remember, the ATC was designed to increase the pool of early-stage capital, get new investors engaged in the ecosystem and give entrepreneurs in Tennessee an additional selling point when pitching their companies for investment.

For 2017, Launch Tennessee issued $1.84M worth of credits, tied to $6.3M of capital invested in Tennessee companies. 29 companies attracted investment from angels benefitting from the program, receiving an average check size of $73,055 from 68 unique angel investors.

These 68 investors could receive up to $50,000 in tax credits and many invested in multiple companies. This is significant because, as awareness of ATC grew, angels wanted to maximize their amount of eligible credits for 2017 and looked for other pre-qualified companies to invest in. This created a multiplier effect, increasing the number of Tennessee investments that otherwise might not have been made.

“Innovation on the Hill” also included Launch Tennessee speaking about its invitation to join Kauffman’s first-ever Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network. The network will serve as an alliance of organizations that will bring the voices of entrepreneurs to policy debates at the state level.

(L to R): Cortney Piper, Vice President of TAEBC; Charlie Brock, CEO & President of Launch Tennessee; Lindsey Cox, Dir. of Operations and Government Affairs of Launch Tennessee.

Launch Tennessee was selected as a grant recipient and is one of six entrepreneurial support organizations chosen from an invitation-only nationwide RFP process. The Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network seeks to remove barriers to new business creation and entrepreneurial success by improving public policy at the state level.

Among other actions, grant recipients will:

  • Identify state policies that inhibit entrepreneurship,
  • Educate policymakers about the impact of those policies in erecting barriers to entrepreneurship,
  • Build support for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship generally, and
  • Facilitate informational interactions between policymakers and entrepreneurs.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council has partnered with Launch Tennessee to form the Energy Mentor Network. The network showcases the state’s lucrative advanced energy industry and recent achievements in the field.

The Energy Mentor Network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise.

Since 2016, the network has doubled the number of mentors in the program to 25 with expertise ranging from energy systems, clean tech, intellectual property, business and finance strategy. Six companies are currently enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network.

Last year the network recognized its first graduate, Solar Site Design, which achieved significant traction while enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network.

Solar Site Design announces 75th construction company to join Commercial Marketplace

Solar Site Design is surging towards more success as the Energy Mentor Network startup announced 75 construction companies are now subscribed to its Commercial Marketplace platform.

Solar Site Design is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The company is a collaborative, cloud-based marketplace platform that connects sales-ready commercial and industrial solar projects to top solar construction companies to drive down customer acquisition costs.

“Our marketplace was launched last year during Solar Power International, so this demonstrates the tremendous growth we have acquired since then,” said Jason Loyet, Founder.

Loyet elaborated that his company has an even bigger milestone in mind.

“Our goal is to standardize ‘behind the meter’ commercial solar origination and sign 150 construction companies to join Solar Site Design’s marketplace by the end of this year,” said Loyet.

Solar Site Design will exhibit this year at Solar Power International in Las Vegas on September 10 and will announce a major partnership with a global Fortune 500 solar panel manufacturer that Loyet believes will help his company reach and exceed that goal.

“Our Commercial Marketplace Platform is experiencing tremendous traction, and is servicing commercial and industrial properties nationwide,” said Loyet. “Together with our trusted channel agents, we provide commercial property owners with preliminary engineering and financial modeling and educate them on the costs and benefits of installing solar.”

“As soon as the owners choose to install solar, we connect them with (up to) five competitive construction quotes. Our contractors have real-time access into the Marketplace, where they can see when the owner is ready to move forward. And, they don’t have to pay for the project up front; they only pay when the project is won. It’s a win-win for everyone: building owners lean on their trusted advisor to help them receive competitive pricing and the customer acquisition costs are driven down for the installer,” said Loyet.

Loyet went on to say some of the largest solar construction companies in the Southeast have already joined Solar Site Design’s commercial marketplace. Solar Site Design won the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Catalyst award for its innovation on driving down cost of solar through their innovative software platform.