TVA’s first sustainability report highlights carbon emission reductions, increase in renewable energy generation

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) released its first-ever sustainability report late last month. The 2019 TVA Sustainability Report provides a comprehensive snapshot of the energy, environmental, economic, and societal impacts of TVA’s everyday activities and will serve as a baseline for future annual corporate sustainability reporting.

“While sustainability and integrated planning have always been part of TVA’s mission, this is the first time we have gathered this information into one report in this format,” said Rebecca Tolene, Vice President for Environment and TVA Chief Sustainability Officer. “Our goal is that this report improves the accessibility and transparency of information about TVA’s sustainability work.”

The report highlights TVA’s focus on clean energy and a low-carbon future. According to the report, TVA is on track to reduce its average carbon emissions rate by 60% from 2005 levels by the end of 2020. This reduction is fueled by TVA’s shift to a diverse energy generation mix that goes beyond coal to include nuclear, gas, hydroelectric, and renewables. TVA is also partnering with customers and stakeholders to identify ways to further reduce the Tennessee Valley’s carbon footprint.

Another element of the report is TVA’s deepening commitment to renewable energy generation. In FY 2019, TVA had more than 6,000 megawatts of contracted or operating renewable energy capacity, including more than 3,700 megawatts of hydropower, 1,100 megawatts of solar, 1,200 megawatts of wind, and 50 megawatts of biomass.

The 2019 TVA Sustainability Report is the latest in a series of efforts by TVA to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to sustainability. Earlier this year, TVA announced modifications to its Flexibility Proposal that will give local power companies the opportunity to self-generate or procure distributed generation. This modification will not only provide greater access to advanced energy in the Tennessee Valley, but create jobs and capital investment in the communities TVA serves.

TVA now accepting proposals for 200MW of renewable energy

TVA is now accepting proposals to develop 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy that can be brought online by the end of 2023. The deadline for proposal submissions is April 24. 

According to the Request for Proposal, the utility is interested in procuring up to 200 MW of new stand-alone renewable energy resources or renewable energy plus battery energy storage systems, including all the associated environmental attributes. 

TVA procured more than 1,300 MW on behalf of customers through similar requests for proposals in 2018 and 2019. According to the utility, large-scale solar costs 80 percent less than private-scale solar and delivers the best value for renewable energy across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

Recently, the TVA Board of Directors approved six flexibility principles in its February meeting that may grant local power companies the ability to buy or generate power on their own. Previously, TVA sought public input on the potential environmental impacts of a 150-MW solar project in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The power provider entered into an agreement with Elora Solar, LLC to purchase power generated by the proposed solar facility.

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in the state. This move allows TVA to provide more clean, reliable energy for their customers.

The utility provider will announce the selected proposals in fall 2020. To review TVA’s RFP and submit bids, visit this link

USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is seeking applications

The USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Currently, the USDA is seeking applications for Fiscal Year 2020

The purpose of the program is to create energy independence through increasing access to capital for renewable energy projects and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficient initiatives. Funds may be used to buy, install, and install renewable energy systems, including solar, biomass, hydrogen, wind, geothermal, and more. Other possible uses include energy efficiency improvements for HVAC systems, insulation, lighting, doors and windows, cooling units, and more. Applications for grants and/or loans have varying deadlines: 

  • Grants and/or Loans of $20,000 or Less: Applications due October 31, 2019 or March 31, 2020
  • Unrestricted Grants and/or Loans: Applications due March 31, 2020
  • Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants: Applications due January 31, 2020
  • Guaranteed Loans: Applications are accepted on a continuous cycle

The agency encourages all applicants to consider projects that offer measurable results in rural communities, helping them build robust, sustainable economics through effective and strategic investments in partnerships, infrastructure and innovation. According to the USDA, these strategies may include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life 

Follow this link to learn more about REAP or apply for financial assistance. Click here to find the REAP point of contact for your region in Tennessee. 

New report reveals more companies are taking notice of renewable energy cost savings

Once inaccessible to many organizations, today’s renewable energy technologies make financial sense and companies are paying close attention.

TAEBC member Schneider Electric partnered with GreenBiz Research to release the State of Corporate Energy & Sustainability Programs 2018 report.

The findings are based on responses to an online survey completed by 236 energy and sustainability professionals representing diverse industries and companies, with $100 million to $10 billion or more in annual revenue.

Below is some compelling data from the report:

Renewable energy is key to a decarbonized future. Global energy-related Co2 emissions could be reduced 70 percent by 2050, and renewables would account for about half of the emissions reductions, according to research. (Another 45 percent would come from increased energy efficiency and electrification.)

Getting close to those projections requires widespread support from the business community, and the report shows that support exists. Companies are helping cut emissions en masse by shifting to more clean, sustainable resources.

A majority of respondents reported having renewable energy projects underway or planned. And the rate topped 60 percent in four sectors: education,  health care, financial services and technology. Even the sector with the least amount of traction (industrial) still reported a respectable 39 percent adoption rate.

The movement toward renewables is likely due to C-level interest and support. Whether their role involves recommending, reviewing or approving projects, 82 percent reported being involved at some level in sustainability and renewable energy initiatives.

The impact on businesses is substantial because renewable energy projects help meet sustainability goals, build a stronger brand and benefit the bottom line. A recent study found that 72 percent of companies are pursuing renewable energy procurement, and 80 percent plan to build out their renewables portfolio via multiple types of transactions, such as offsite power purchase agreements and onsite generation.

It’s also important to mention financial return on investment has always been the obvious benchmark for energy and sustainability initiatives, but other criteria are now being widely considered. When asked about primary drivers for energy and sustainability efforts, cost savings was most often selected, 69 percent of the time, as one of the top three objectives. But other factors garnered high rates as well. Meeting internal and external goals ranked second (60 percent), and nearly half cited improving company brand, as well as mitigating environmental risks.

Energy Mentor Network Spotlight: Harvey Abouelata

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is continuing its series of feature stories highlighting the mentors behind the Energy Mentor Network program offering industry specific expertise.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy (Credit: ARiES Energy)

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy (Credit: ARiES Energy)

This week TAEBC is highlighting mentor Harvey Abouelata. He serves as the President of ARiES Energy.

Harvey has worked on a variety of renewable energy projects for Wampler’s Farm Sausage and most recently a 1.37 MW solar installation for Appalachian Electric Coop – the first utility-scale community solar project in the state – which was officially unveiled in early January.

He also has extensive experience in business management, business planning, strategy, sales, marketing, promotions, public relations, and new technology brand identity with concentration in the renewable energy field.

Related: ARiES Energy celebrates five year anniversary

While being involved in the solar industry, he has succeeded in bringing millions of dollars in grants to local companies and the State of Tennessee.

At ARiES, he oversees business operations and management, marketing strategy, and overall customer satisfaction. In recent history, Harvey was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at a privately owned Knoxville company where he oversaw the sales, product development, and marketing of residential and commercial products and services for solar PV and thermal design. Prior to this position, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing for another renewable energy company launch.

Since graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984, he has been helping businesses launch, reorganize, and bring new technologies to market. Harvey excels at setting up successful sales, marketing, business plans and economic development strategies for companies, as well as executing public outreach and education.

TAEBC is still accepting mentors for the Energy Mentor Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Mentors” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.