Tennessee Valley Authority on the precipice of powering our advanced energy future

By Steve Seifried, TAEBC Board Member

(Originally published on The Knoxville News-Sentinel)

The sun is rising on a new day for Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

After six years, TVA president and CEO Bill Johnson retired recently. His successor is Jeffrey Lyash, who stands to take over the reins at a critical juncture for Tennessee’s economy and energy industry. It’s not your typical transfer of power: The ascent of the advanced energy industry hands TVA the keys to transform Tennessee into an economic powerhouse and position the utility as the energy company of the future.

Economic success is increasingly tied to energy options. Businesses of all sizes – from Fortune 100 companies to mom-and-pop stores – are setting sustainability goals and incorporating advanced energy into their processes and products, in concert with growing public awareness of energy usage and climate impact.

That’s great news for Tennessee, which is on the path to becoming the epicenter of advanced energy innovation.

Advanced energy powers Tennessee’s GDP: $39.7 billion

We sit on a war chest of unequaled energy assets: TVA, the nation’s largest public utility; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a world-leader in scientific discovery and energy research; and a business-friendly climate. This energy axis operates as an economic development and job creation machine, pulling in businesses and talent looking to invest and expand in our state.

Here’s what that looks like in concrete numbers: Advanced energy powers Tennessee’s gross domestic product to the tune of $39.7 billion, a 2018 report from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) found. The industry is eclipsing even the overall economy in employment growth, employing close to 360,000 Tennesseans in positions generally paying more than the state’s average annual wage.

Whether Tennessee communities can continue to capitalize upon this lucrative industry and cement our place as a leader in the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy market depends, in large part, on what TVA and Lyash do next.

Advanced energy encompasses any technology that makes electricity or transportation cleaner, safer, more secure, or more efficient – it’s square in TVA’s wheelhouse. Even more, it’s central to TVA’s stated three-pronged mission of power generation, environmental stewardship, and economic development.

Grant local power providers and private industry easier access

We all have a stake in TVA’s embrace of advanced energy innovation, programs, and partners. By making it easier for companies to deploy advanced energy technologies and develop innovative energy solutions, TVA plays a central role in attracting and retaining talent and corporate investment in our state. Prioritizing advanced energy is vital to Tennessee’s economic development, and TVA is perfectly positioned to lead this critical initiative.

Former president Johnson will leave a legacy of general reception to advanced energy innovation, powering down aging and inefficient coal plants, launching programs to offer advanced energy options, investing in new energy technology and the next generation of energy entrepreneurs at ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads.

But there’s much to be done. While TVA’s draft 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) emphasizes some aspects of advanced energy, it stops short of fully embracing the industry in a way that would generate positive ripple effects across Tennessee’s and the Valley’s economy.

What may seem like a minor oversight today can have enormous repercussions down the road. TVA and Tennessee must not fall behind other states and regions who have positioned themselves to capitalize upon the energy of the future. The good news is that the time to strike is now.

Beginning with a commitment to flexibility and transparency, TVA should grant local power providers and private industry easier access to renewable and advanced energy generation. It should stay abreast of advanced energy trends and nurture them here in Tennessee, and deepen TVA’s investment into advanced energy resources.

TAEBC is committed to supporting TVA and its leadership under new chief Lyash to seize upon the opportunities offered by advanced energy. TVA’s commitment to advanced energy will directly benefit the utility itself, our overall economy, and every Tennessean.

Steve Seifried is an account executive with Ameresco and a board member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.

One week until deadline to submit TVA 2019 IRP comments

As of Monday April Fool’s Day, the public has exactly one week to submit their comments to TVA’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

The IRP provides a long-term vision for how TVA can best meet the Valley’s need for power during the next two decades. According to the draft, the IRP will impact how TVA supports environmental stewardship, encourages economic development, and offers low-cost electricity in the area.

TAEBC’s utility relations committee will be responsible for drafting TAEBC’s comments, which will be made public to our members and stakeholders. If you would like to participate in this process, please email TAEBC’s vice president Cortney Piper here.

News outlets have been reporting the agency’s plans focus on increasing flexibility, with the addition of smaller-scale and localized “distributed generation” and renewable power sources.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the IRP lays out all combinations of six possible scenarios and five agency strategies. The scenarios are: TVA’s current “base case” projections, an economic downturn, growth of power needs, a strong push to cut carbon emissions, rapid development of distributed generation, and opposition to extending nuclear plant operation.

You can view the draft IRP and submit your comments here.

Schneider Electric hosts TAEBC Annual Meeting featuring Thomas B Ballard award, TVA DER progress

Another successful Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council Annual Meeting is in the books thanks to Schneider Electric.

In Franklin, TAEBC members, stakeholders and supporters gathered at Schneider Electric’s newest Nashville Hub and while there witnessed renowned Tennessee collaborator and partnerships builder Tom Ballard receive the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award named in his honor.

The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council champions the state’s advanced energy economy as an economic development and job creation strategy through sharing information, connecting stakeholders, and strengthening the industry. These pillars are personally exemplified by the tireless work of Tom Ballard, an unparalleled leader, educator, mentor, and advocate of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

TAEBC also announced the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award will be an annual award, accepting nominations every year and presenting the winner with the honor at future annual meetings.

Ballard stepped down as long time board member for TAEBC, and Ameresco’s own Steve Seifried was appointed by the board to fill Ballard’s vacancy.

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Utility & Microgrid Solutions Don Wingate, touched on the new energy landscape emerging with more microgrid implementation happening across the United States and how Schneider Electric came up with a new line of business after assisting Montgomery County, Maryland in successfully completing two advanced public safety microgrids dubbing it ‘Microgrid as a Service.’

Wingate explained the approach Schneider Electric took is very different from a purchase power agreement. “We gave them a price per kilowatt hour less than what they were paying,” said Wingate.

He also underscored the innovative approaches that the corporation is taking by describing Schneider Electric Ventures. “It’s a new way to harvest ideas,” Wingate said, adding that it “is far more than a typical venture capitalist.” The fund made five investments in 2018.

Attendees also heard from Chris Hansen, TVA’s Director of Pricing Strategy & Origination, who spotlighted the energy company’s efforts to meet renewable energy expectations of Google and Facebook for new data centers the companies were constructing in the Valley. Both global giants are known for their commitments to sustainability and clean energy.

Working together, the corporations and TVA developed something called the “Renewable Investment Agreement” that is a new model for TVA. It met all parties’ key requirements and also uncovered a more than expected availability of renewable energy sources to help ensure that the region does not miss out on these types of projects in the future.

At the end of the event, Schneider Electric hosted a technology showcase highlighting the company’s microgrid solutions, energy automation & control systems, and smart home technologies.

Credit: Teknovation.biz for parts of this blog post.

Don’t miss TAEBC’s Opportunities in Energy event!

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council invites you to its year-end, annual event “Opportunities in Energy”

Relevant topics to today’s ever-changing energy economy and how Tennessee is becoming a leader in the advanced energy sector fill the agenda including:

Featured Panel: A look inside TVA’s partnership with Innovation Crossroads, Cohort 3 For the first time, TVA is providing funding to support the next cohort of energy entrepreneurs for ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads. How will this partnership shape Cohort 3?

  • Amy Henry, Sr. Manager, Enterprise Relations and Strategic Partnership, TVA
  • Tom Rogers, Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Sam Shaner, Yellowstone Energy
  • Mitchell Ishmael, Active Energy Systems
  • Moderated by: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA & Editor, Teknovation.biz

EMN Spotlight: Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc. Hear this EMN company’s power pitch on next generation heating technologies, and learn more about their experience in the Energy Mentor Network.

  • Michael Garrabrant, CEO, Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc
  • Gary Rawlings, Technology Consultant, Oak Ridge National Lab
  • Steve Seifried, Account Executive for the Tennessee Region, Ameresco
  • Ira Weiss, Principal, Weiss Associates & Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Energy Mentor Network

Protecting our Power
As cybersecurity becomes a growing priority across the country, how is TVA protecting the grid?

  • Andrea Brackett, Director of Cybersecurity, Tennessee Valley Authority

TennSMART: Shaping the Future of Intelligent Mobility
Hear about TennSmart’s progress in accelerating the development and deployment of new intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee.

  • Brad Rutherford, Vice President of Sales, Local Motors
  • Bob Booker, Senior Manager, Corporate Services Divison, DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.
  • Ron Espinosa, Regional Director Mid-Atlantic, SoftServe Inc
  • Moderated by: Jesse Smith, Manager of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development, Oak Ridge National Laboratory 

TN Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report, 2018 Findings
The numbers are in and Tennessee’s advanced energy sector is continuing to thrive! This panel will discuss TAEBC’s latest economic impact report and what this means for the state.

  • Stacey Patterson, Vice President for Research, Outreach and Economic Development at the University of Tennessee
  • Denise Ganus, Future Offer Manager, Schneider Electric
  • Mary Beth Hudson, Vice President Wacker Polysilicon Division NCA, Site Manager Charleston at Wacker Polysilicon
  • Moderated by: Matt Murray, Director, Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

Energy Mentor Network Showcase
Meet some of our Energy Mentor Network companies as they present their entrepreneurial solutions for our nation’s energy challenges!

  • Shane McMahon, Lux Semiconductors
  • Justin Nussbaum, Ascend Manufacturing
  • Megan O’Connor, Nth Cycle
  • Moderated by: Anna Douglas, SkyNano

Tennessee Valley Authority names 3 top executives

(Originally published: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tennessee Valley Authority has a new chief operating officer, chief nuclear officer, and vice president of financial operations and performance.

Mike Skaggs, formerly executive vice president for operations, is the new chief operating officer. He will oversee Power Operations, Nuclear, Transmission & Power Supply and Generation Construction, Projects & Services, according to a news release.

Timothy Rausch, former senior vice president and chief nuclear officer for Talen Energy’s Susquehanna nuclear plant, is TVA’s new chief nuclear officer and will report to Skaggs.

Skaggs’ promotion is effective immediately. Rausch will start Oct. 15, working on the transition with outgoing Chief Nuclear Officer Mike Balduzzi, who plans to retire in spring 2019, a news release said.

Thomas Rice, formerly director of Business Planning & Analysis, has been promoted to vice president of Financial Operations & Performance, effective immediately.

Read more here.