TAEBC is hosting three Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtables!

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council will host virtual business roundtables in each region and a statewide Energy Incentives webinar to create a cohesive statewide network to become the number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain. Additionally, these efforts will cultivate an advanced energy economy to attract and retain innovative businesses. 

Virtual Event Schedule

  • West Tennessee -April 13, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET
    • To attend, RSVP here.
  • Middle Tennessee – June 9, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET 
  • Statewide Energy Incentives Webinar – August 3, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. CT/10 a.m. ET (2 hours)
  • East Tennessee – October 13, 2021 at 10:00 am CT/11:00 am ET

Purpose of These Events

  • Guide communication and outreach efforts regarding advanced energy
  • Identify areas to build the network to support a progressing EV supply chain in the state and cultivate an advanced energy economy to attract and retain innovative businesses
  • Connect businesses with higher education and technical campuses to discuss evolving needs
  • Gather information to share with the Council and stakeholders regarding workforce challenges
  • Increase feedback regarding existing energy incentives and desired incentives 

Partners

  1. TAEBC Members
  2. Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
  3. LaunchTN
  4. UT-System  
  5. Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  6. Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA)
  7. Regional Chambers of Commerce Partners

*More partners are being added every week.

Attendees

  1. Business leaders with a focus and role in the advanced energy economy
  2. Members of each partner organization

Register here for the Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable for West Tennessee. Registration for Middle and West Tennessee Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtables will open soon.

TAEBC Op-Ed: Advanced energy means jobs for Tennesseans

(Originally appeared on The Knoxville News Sentinel

By Cortney Piper, Executive Director, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

By almost any metric, Tennessee had a strong 2020 in advanced energy, a robust sector with 18,000 businesses contributing nearly $40 billion to the state’s gross domestic product. And the year’s growth in the state’s electric vehicle landscape received national and international headlines. As that happened, more elected officials realized that advanced energy means job creation, which stretches beyond political lines and helps Tennesseans directly in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has tightened other areas of employment.

Among the 2020 victories are General Motors’ $2 billion plan for its electric vehicle plant in Spring Hill that will build Cadillac’s SUV. Volkswagen announced its own EV SUV at its Chattanooga plant. Last January, VW, the University of Tennessee, the UT Research Foundation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory partnered on VW’s first innovation hub in North America at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm. And in the fall, VW broke ground on a $22 million Chattanooga lab to test EV batteries.

With leadership from Gov. Bill Lee, Tennesseans can anticipate more growth in advanced energy and job creation. Electric vehicles are a primary focus for state resources, which included incentives for the GM plant. Nissan and VW have also worked closely with state and local government over the years.

Bob Rolfe, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said that Lee’s goal is to make Tennessee the country’s most business-friendly state and praised the EV progress in a December Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) webinar. Electric vehicle jobs are advanced energy jobs. And transportation electrification can pull us through this pandemic-induced economic downturn just like energy has done countless times before, starting in 1933 with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

To continue reading this article, follow this link. For more information about how the advanced energy sector creates high-quality jobs and fuels growth for existing businesses, read Piper’s earlier guest column, “Transportation electrification can recharge Tennessee’s economy.”

TAEBC’s 2020 Opportunities in Energy event emphasizes importance of transportation electrification and advanced energy efforts

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council hosted its annual Opportunities in Energy event virtually this week. The event featured TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe, a panel discussion about making Tennessee the destination for the electric vehicle supply chain, and preview of the upcoming Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report.

TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper kicked off the festivities by providing an overview of TAEBC’s mission and accomplishments in 2020. She spoke about challenges the state faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how Tennessee is uniquely positioned to capitalize on transportation electrification to help with economic recovery efforts 

“Transportation electrification and advanced energy could and should be used as job creation and economic development opportunities to help us rise out of our current crisis,” she said.

Commissioner Rolfe spoke about the importance of recruiting original equipment manufacturers to the Tennessee region, Tennessee’s automotive accomplishments, and the Drive Electric Tennessee initiative. He emphasized that the state is committed to becoming an electric vehicle transportation leader in the southeast.

After his presentation, Commissioner Rolfe was joined by John Hopkins, CEO of IACMI; Mike Swords, Vice President of Government Affairs and International Relations at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator; and moderator Tom Rogers, President and CEO of the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, for a panel session, “Tennessee’s EVolution: Making the state a destination for the electric vehicle supply chain.” 

Panelists spoke about the importance of electrification efforts, areas of opportunity, and important steps the state can take to accelerate its goal to be the top state in the country for electric vehicle manufacturing. Answering a question about how Tennessee can reach this goal, Commissioner Rolfe said, “The short answer is to recruit, recruit, and recruit.” 

“When we are recruiting, we want to showcase what Tennessee’s great strengths are,” he continued. These strengths include low business taxes, a high quality of living, affordable housing, and being considered one of the most “business friendly states” in the country. 

During the discussion, Swords spoke about a $150 billion federal stimulus proposal by the Transportation Electrification Partnership and LACI. TAEBC signed on to this proposal in July. Swords complimented Tennessee on its investment in transportation electrification. 

“It seems like there really is an aggressive push to achieve some of these big strategic goals for the state and it sounds like you are being quite successful so far,” said Swords. 

Afterward, Piper moderated a panel discussion about the 2021 Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report with Matt Murray, Director of Howard H. Baker Jr. Center; Amy Henry, Director, Transformative Innovation at the Tennessee Valley Authority; and Marc Gibson, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research at University of Tennessee. 

Murray started with an overview of the 2018 Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report and discussed the process for creating it. Speaking about the 2018 report, Murray said the advanced energy economy has been “remarkable in terms of its economic performance.”

“The advanced energy sector in Tennessee is growing at a much more rapid pace than other segments of the economy and at a faster rate than the economy as a whole,” said Murray. According to the 2018 report, employment in the sector grew by 10.3 percent, a rate higher than the state’s overall growth rate of 8.3 percent, since 2013. 

Panelists discussed the importance of this data and how the report can help further advanced energy opportunities in the state. Answering a question about how vital institutions such as UT and TVA can use this data, Gibson explained, “This data is critical for us. We look at it holistically.” 

“I think if we can create that ecosystem and develop something that is statewide, we can make something that is very attractive for industry and others to look at the state of Tennessee as a landing spot,” said Gibson. “We want to be right in the middle of that. I think we have a responsibility to the state and really the region to do that.” 

Missed or loved the event? Watch the recording here and TNECD’s “Tennessee’s Electric Vehicle Evolution” video here.

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.”