2020 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award winners announced

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers announced the winners of the 2020 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.

“Tennesseans continue to show their commitment to the environment in innovative ways, and we want to recognize their outstanding efforts,” Lee said. “These awards show that responsible environmental stewardship is happening across our state.”

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect our environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.

In its 34th year, the awards program covers nine categories: agriculture and forestry; building green; clean air; energy and renewable resources; environmental education and outreach; materials management; natural resource conservation; sustainable performance; and water quality conservation.

Read the full announcement by visiting TDEC’s website.

Deadline to submit nominations for 2020 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards (GESA) are presented annually to recognize outstanding achievements by individuals, local governments, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, and agencies for successful environmental projects and conservation measures. The awards program was instituted in 1986 by Ernie Blankenship of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Health, a predecessor of TDEC, and has been adopted by the Governor’s office as one of its award programs.

GESA are designed to enhance knowledge and awareness of effective conservation and environmental practices and projects making outstanding contributions to the preservation and protection of community and state natural resources and to give proper recognition to those who engage in these outstanding practices. GESA also encourage leadership by example through its award winners, leading to increased protection and conservation of Tennessee’s wildlife, forests, soils, air, water, natural heritage, parks, and recreation. Applications are judged in nine different criteria areas, including such items as project results and transferability, as well as three eligibility areas: location within the state of Tennessee, completion of a majority of the project in the current calendar year, and three years of exceptional environmental compliance with TDEC.

GESA are the most prestigious environmental and conservation awards in the state. For more than 30 years, the awards have been presented to individuals and organizations making significant contributions to the protection and improvement of our natural resources and wildlife. GESA supports the Governor’s priorities of Job and Economic Development and Health and Welfare, while also supporting TDEC priorities of Public/Private Partnerships and Positive Environmental Outcomes.

Projects must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award:

  • Be located or reside in Tennessee
  • Nominated projects must have been largely completed during the 2019 calendar year
  • Nominees shall have a minimum three years of exceptional environmental compliance
  • Be submitted in the provided format
  • Winning applicants must agree to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published
  • There must be a three-year window between wins for each category to be eligible for that category again

Deadline to apply is March 31, 2020.

Click here to learn more!

Submit nominations for the 2020 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards!

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) are accepting nominations for the 2020 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards (TSTAs) from now until Friday, June 19. Winners will be honored at the Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo later this year. Submit your nominations here.

The TSTAs recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of the state’s transportation systems. In the judging criteria, TDEC and TDOT ask nominees to provide information about how their project addresses one or more of the following areas:

  • Innovation: How the project utilized new thinking or creative approaches to meet a particular transportation challenge
  • Best Practices and Replicability: How the project demonstrates a transferable solution, such that others could adopt or implement similar programs or initiatives
  • Changes in Transportation Behavior: How a project worked to encourage or achieve changes in transportation behavior in order to make a transportation system more efficient
  • Improvements to Public Health, Resilience, and Safety: How a project creates improvements to public health, well-being, or safety in a given community
  • Equity and Access: How the project provides sustainable transportation benefits to all community members and creates accessible mobility solutions for diverse audiences

Regarding eligibility requirements, all project must:

  • Eligible entities include federal, State (excluding divisions under TDEC and TDOT), and local governments; commercial, non-profit, and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities.
  • Projects must be located within or have occurred in Tennessee. A project that is part of a regional or national initiative must have a significant Tennessee nexus.
  • Projects must have been completed in the last five years. 
  • Nominees must have a minimum of three consecutive, current years of exceptional environmental compliance with TDEC.
  • Applicants must agree to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published by the State of Tennessee and/or the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Projects that were awarded a TSTA in the past may not be awarded again, unless significant changes to the project have occurred in the interim.

TAEBC recently heard from TDEC Commissioner David Salyers at our Annual Meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub, where he discussed how the state is moving swiftly to promote electric vehicle adoption and increase charging infrastructure availability.

Check out the list of 2019 TSTA winners here. If you have questions about the TSTAs, please contact OEP Senior Program Manager Alexa Voytek at Alexa.Voytek@tn.gov or 615-532-0238.

TAEBC Annual Meeting 2020 highlights transportation electrification initiatives, advanced energy leadership

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) held another successful Annual Meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub earlier this month.

TNECD Commissioner and TDEC Commissioner Featured speakers included Commissioner Bob Rolfe of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) and Commissioner David Salyers of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), who spoke about electric vehicles (EV) and their role in Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

The event kicked off with TAEBC awarding Dan Hurst, CEO and founder of Strata-G, with the second-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award, which honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. Last year, the inaugural award went to Ballard himself.  

“As a founding board member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Dan Hurst embodies the qualities of a servant leader,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director and Vice President 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.”

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Power Products, Emily Heitman, welcomed TAEBC to Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub and reinforced the company’s commitment to doing business in Tennessee. Her presentation was followed by Piper, who outlined TAEBC’S top achievements in 2019 and emphasized the organization’s goals and priorities moving into 2020. 

Next, Silicon Ranch Corporation’s Director of Regenerative Energy and Land Management, Michael Baute, spoke about the company’s holistic approach to solar power plant design, construction, and operations. Since launching Regenerative Energy with one 52-acre project in 2018, the program has grown exponentially with 31 projects on 5,923 acres throughout five states this year.

On TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network Panel, Helge Nestler, Founder and President of Ginko Technologies, pitched his startup and mission to accelerate the use of sustainable waste treatment methods to reduce landfills and recover energy from waste. Afterwards, he was joined by Ira Weiss, Energy Mentor Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence and principal of Weiss Associates, for a panel discussion about Nestler’s entrepreneurial journey and value of the Energy Mentor Network program for startups like Ginko Technologies.

Later, Drew Frye, Senior Power Utilization Engineer at TVA, spoke about EV trends and the utility’s EV strategy for the state. In addition to providing a 10-year snapshot of the role of EVs from 2010 until now, Frye highlighted TVA’s role with Drive Electric Tennessee and what is next on the horizon for TVA, including improving charging infrastructure, enhancing consumer awareness, promoting supportive EV policies, and ensuring EV availability. 

Commissioner Salyers also spoke about Drive Electric Tennessee and the continued development of a statewide EV charging network. He reinforced TDEC’s commitment to providing a cleaner, safer environment and support for technologies that reduce emissions and improve air quality. Through its electrification efforts, “TDEC seeks to improve transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions, and strengthen the resiliency of the transportation sector.”  

“Our vision for Tennessee is to become a leader in the electric transportation space,” remarked Salyers. “Electric vehicles have the potential to make our transportation system both more efficient and more resilient. We are excited to continue working alongside our fantastic partners to achieve these benefits.”

During Commissioner Rolfe’s TNECD update, he emphasized how the agency’s “first job” is to create high-quality jobs for Tennesseans. His second job, explained Rolfe, is to make sure the companies that call Tennessee home “are happy,” such as Volkswagen, Nissan, and others who are focused on EV efforts. 

“We’re going to focus on recruiting companies to Tennessee that are focused on the electric vehicle business because we think it’s here to stay,” said Rolfe. “For Tennessee to remain number one in the southeast, we’re going to be doubling down on those efforts.”

After their presentations, Saylers and Rolfe held a joint Q&A session, where they answered a range of audience questions. For example, when asked what TAEBC can do to support the state’s efforts in propelling electrification efforts further, Saylers emphasized the importance of workforce development programs that promote technical training for jobs that support the state’s advanced energy economy.

Rolfe echoed Sayler’s statements, adding, “a lot of good things are happening in Tennessee, but what we can continue to do is to make it the most inviting, business friendly state to come do business in.”

TDEC issues RFI on light duty ZEV supply equipment

On November 1, 2019, TDEC issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit program design feedback for the forthcoming solicitation under the Light Duty Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Supply Equipment category.

TDEC also plans to leverage program design insights from Drive Electric Tennessee’s Statewide Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Needs Assessment, which is expected to be published on TDEC’s Drive Electric Tennessee webpage. TDEC encourages respondents to review this Needs Assessment when compiling feedback.

View the Light Duty SEZ Supply Equipment RFI here

Respondents may submit information in response to some or all of the questions contained within the RFI (Section 5: Information Requested, pages 7-12). Responses should be transmitted electronically to TDEC.OEP@tn.gov in PDF format and must be received by 4:00 pm CT on December 6, 2019. TDEC will conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of all responses.

TDEC will continue to release solicitations for funding under the VW Settlement EMT in the coming months. Interested persons are advised to sign up for the TDEC VW Settlement email list at https://signup.e2ma.net/signup/1843437/1737620/ to be kept apprised of all future and related announcements. For additional information on the VW Settlement, visit the TDEC website here: http://www.tn.gov/environment/VWSettlementClick here to learn more about TDEC’s project solicitations under the VW Settlement EMT.