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.”

TAEBC Annual Meeting 2020

TAEBC’s Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, March 5, 2020 at Schneider Electric in Franklin, Tennessee.

RSVP Here!

This event is free to TAEBC members, government or elected officials.

There’s a $25 ticket cost for non-members, plus a small additional fee.

 

Our annual meeting will feature:

  • Bob Rolfe, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development

In light of Tennessee’s evolving manufacturing sector, Commissioner Rolfe will share his priorities for the department and how the electric vehicle industry fits into Tennessee’s economy.

  • David Salyers, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation

Commissioner Salyers will present an update on the Drive Electric Tennessee initiative and how the state is moving swiftly to promote electric vehicle adoption and increase charging infrastructure availability.

Note: There will be time reserved for Audience Q&A following the commissioners’ presentations.

  • Michael Baute, Director of Regenerative Energy & Land Management, Silicon Ranch

Baute will share on Silicon Ranch’s new holistic Regenerative Energy (TM) platform that combines clean electricity generation with carbon sequestration, ecosystem restoration, and rural revitalization.

  • Emily Heitman, Schneider Electric VP, Power Products USA
  • Cortney Piper, Vice President & Executive Director, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

Piper will reflect on Tennessee’s most significant advanced energy milestones in 2019 and what we can expect in the year ahead.

  • Drew Frye, Technology Innovation Power Utilization Engineer, TVA

As electric vehicles continue to gain momentum, Frye will discuss how TVA is taking advantage of this opportunity to become a leader in plugging in to the future.

  • Helge Nestler, President, Ginko & Ira Weiss, Principal, Weiss Associates

Enrolled in TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network, Nestler will present his company’s power pitch. Later, Weiss will join the discussion on how Nestler has progressed and matured as an entrepreneur who is solving some of the nation’s critical energy challenges.

Presentation of the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award

Happy Hour 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

TAEBC wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving approaches, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council has been reflecting on what we’re thankful for as Tennessee’s advanced energy sector continues to grow, creating jobs and economic development opportunities for the state.

Advanced energy is technology neutral. Any technology that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient is welcome at our table.

Our footprint expands to every corner of the state, and Tennessee’s advanced energy industry is well-positioned to strengthen at a robust pace. Other than our members, here’s what we’re thankful for this holiday season:

#1 Launch Tennessee & The Energy Mentor Network

We’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate alongside Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership that supports entrepreneurs from ideation to exit, to form the Energy Mentor Network.

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

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.

We’re pleased to say four energy companies, Stone Mountain Technologies, Solar Site Design, Active Energy Systems and SkyNano have graduated from the program with several more on track.

(Interested in becoming a mentor for the next energy innovator? Click here. Are you a Tennessee energy startup and want to apply to the Energy Mentor Network program? Click here.)

#2 The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

TAEBC is committed to help Tennessee become the #1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, in line with state leadership goals.

TNECD is working hard to make Tennessee a business friendly environment that not only attracts new companies to our state but also promotes growth for our existing businesses that call Tennessee home.

TAEBC has met with TNECD leaders outlining how our advanced energy sector employs nearly 360,000 Tennesseans in more than 18,000 businesses that contribute almost $40 billion to the state’s GDP. Advanced energy is a job-creation engine for Tennessee, and Tennessee’s advanced energy sector is growing faster than the overall state economy by a significant margin. 

#3 Increased federal support for energy research and development investments

Congress has continued to see the value in providing record funding for the Office of Science, one of the most important Department of Energy programs that support the work of our country’s 17 national laboratories, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

The Office of Science supports basic science and energy research and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences. For years, Congress has known and understood more comprehensive energy R&D funding means more economic development opportunities and high-quality jobs for Americans and Tennesseans. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council!

Companies with aggressive sustainability targets expand facilities in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) is staying busy as more companies choose to expand into the Volunteer State with a focus on incorporating more advanced energy technologies into their facilities.

Within the month of June, both Gap Inc. and Stanley Black & Decker have announced to upgrade their existing facilities in Tennessee.

Gap Inc. representatives revealed the company would be investing $41.7 million in its Gallatin distribution campus. The new capital investment would go towards technology upgrades as Gap Inc. expands its online fulfillment capabilities.

This would create more than 500 jobs at the center in Sumner County, further strengthening economic development within the community.

Gap Inc. has set ambitious goals to foster cleaner global business by revealing back in January 2016 it would reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent from 2015 levels by the end of 2020. That announcement came after the company had already surpassed its previous goal of reducing emissions from 2008 levels by 20 percent by the end of 2015 across its U.S. operations.

To further enforce these goals, the clothing retailer released a statement following the current administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Gap Inc. remains committed to doing our part to act on climate. We will continue to work with like-minded businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders to support solutions that will create a more sustainable and economically strong future for the people and communities touched by our business around the world. It’s not only the right thing for the planet, but also the right path forward for business growth, job creation and human health.”

Stanley Black & Decker announced earlier this month the company would upgrade its existing facility in Jackson, Tennessee by investing $29 million into the location.

The industrial tool manufacturer will relocate new lines of production and product development to its facility in Madison County, creating approximately 255 new jobs.

Stanley Black & Decker has set sustainability standards of its own, by committing to reduce energy consumption within its facilities by 20% as well as reduce its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2015 levels.

Also for the sixth consecutive year, the company has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America. This list is recognized as a benchmark for investors.

Annual Meeting Highlights Growth of Advanced Energy Sector; Announces 2016 Initiatives

More than 30 members attended the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s annual meeting on February 10 in Nashville to hear about 2016 events, activities and initiatives. Members also learned about the growing strength of the state’s advanced energy sector.

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Ted Townsend, Chief of Staff for TNECD, gave an energizing presentation on the role of advanced energy in Tennessee, reinforcing the important role TAEBC plays in economic development in the state. Advanced energy is a rapidly expanding and lucrative growth sector. Nearly 375,000 jobs are supported in the state’s advanced energy sector.

Townsend noted that advanced energy requires skilled labor and is a source of high quality jobs. The average annual earnings for the sector is $76,126, compared to $45,410 for all industries. The sector provides a home for the state’s emerging workforce, reinforcing TNECD’s goal for 55% of Tennesseans to be equipped with a college degree or certificate by 2025.

Advanced energy ultimately contributes significantly to state and local economies, contributing $33.4 billion to state gross domestic product, while workers in the advanced energy sector pay more than $820 million in sales tax to state and local governments.

Townsend said TNECD expects growth in advanced energy employment throughout the state to continue at a percentage of 13.2% through 2025. Growth since 2010 has kept pace at 17.6%, outpacing the national average of 13.7%.

TNECD’s overall mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, attracting new corporate investment and facilitating expansion and economic growth. TNECD’s ongoing strategies include: new business recruitment, business expansion, growing entrepreneurship, community development, aligning with education and rural development.

In addition to Townsend, Michael Scalf from TVA gave an update on the newly formed stakeholder group “Distributed Generation-Information Exchange.” TAEBC formed a subcommittee to help guide participation in TVA’s distributed generation working group. According to Scalf, TVA anticipates distributed generation to play a major role in the nation’s energy future. Distributed generation generates power on-site, rather than centrally, eliminating the cost, complexity, and interdependencies associated with transmission and distribution.

In other annual meeting news:

  • TAEBC Board appointed Matt Kisber, CEO of Silicon Ranch Corporation, as 2016 President; and elected new members Jim DeMouy, VP of Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability with Bridgestone Americas; and Jeff Kanel, PhD, CEO of Renewable Algal Energy.
  • Members previewed 2016 TAEBC activities including the launch of member hosted networking events. The first event will be hosted in May by Genera Energy, a biomass company based in Vonore. More information, including dates, will be announced next month. For sponsorship information, contact Cortney Piper.
  • TAEBC has launched a new events calendar on the website, serving as a quick and convenient way for members to stay updated on yearly activities and networking opportunities.
  • Later in the Spring, filming will begin on two TAEBC videos, “This Is Advanced Energy” and “Inside Advanced Energy.” The videos are designed to highlight advanced energy industries and entrepreneurs, showcasing members and their work to help Tennessee gain its fair share of the global $1 trillion advanced energy market by fostering growth of technologies, companies and jobs. Thanks to sponsors Silicon Ranch Corporation and Strata-G, the videos are anticipated to be a valuable resource for TAEBC and an easy way to share, educate and inform. Sponsorship opportunities for additional videos are available. For sponsorship information, contact Cortney Piper.