2020 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award Winners Announced
Earlier this month, Governor Bill Lee and TDEC Commissioner David Salyers announced the winners of the 2020 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards (GESA). The GESA 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 covered 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.
One of the 2020 GESA winners was the City of Knoxville, which was recognized under the energy and renewable resources category for its conversion of approximately 29,000 streetlights to LED fixtures. The effort was completed in 2019 and has yielded extraordinary environmental and financial benefits, reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by 13,000 metric tons and saving more than $5 million each year in avoided utility and maintenance costs.
To access the full list of 2020 GESA awardees as well as a summary of their accomplishments, click here.
McNairy County Elementary School Wins 2020 NEED Project Youth Award
OEP is the State coordinator for the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, which promotes energy education among students, educators, and civic leaders through the design and delivery of energy education programs. NEED works with energy companies, local government agencies, and community organizations to provide balanced energy programs to the nation’s schools with a focus on professional development for teachers, curriculum design, and turn-key energy education strategies.
NEED honors schools across the country through its NEED Project Youth Awards for Energy Achievement, a competition in which teachers take their energy education programs beyond the classroom and encourage students to engage in school and community outreach to share what they have learned about energy efficiency and conservation. In June, Michie Elementary was named the NEED Project Youth Awards’ National Elementary School of the Year; Michie Elementary’s middle school team was also recognized as a National Junior Rookie Finalist. At the state level, the teams were named the Tennessee Elementary and Junior School of the Year, respectively. To view Michie Elementary’s project, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” click here. To view the Junior High project, “Conservation of Energy,” click here. Learn more about the NEED Project Youth Awards here.
General Mills Commits to 100% Renewables Globally by 2030
In 2012, General Mills, which has a signicant operational footprint in Tennessee, set an efficiency goal to reduce energy consumption in its U.S. plants 20% by 2022. General Mills reached this target early and has subsequently set a new goal for itself—to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. This announcement comes as part of the RE100 global corporate initiative, through which influential businesses commit to using 100% renewable electricity to accelerate change toward zero carbon electricity grids at a global scale.
To help achieve its goal, General Mills has installed a 1.6 MW generator fueled by anaerobic digestion at its Murfreesboro plant; through the anaerobic digestion, self-renewing bacteria in an onsite biodigester converts plant process wastewater from the company’s yogurt dough production into biogas fuel for the generator. Power and heat from the generator are fed directly back into the yogurt processing facility to reduce its annual grid power and natural gas purchases by up to 20%.
NASEO and NARUC Announce Initiative on Cybersecurity in Solar Projects
The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) have launched the Cybersecurity Advisory Team for State Solar (CATSS) initiative to mitigate cybersecurity risks in solar energy developments. With support from U.S. DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the project will leverage state, federal, and private-sector expertise to identify model solar-cybersecurity programs and actions for states to take in partnership with utilities and the solar industry.
Funding for Field Validation in the Public Sector
U.S. DOE has released a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Building Technologies Proving Ground – Public Sector Field Validation.” The objective of this funding is to generate and disseminate data on the field performance of novel approaches to integration of advanced building technologies that can inform commercial and multi-family building efficiency, demand flexibility, and building-to-grid programs. Projects funded through this FOA will have the potential to significantly reduce energy use in U.S. commercial buildings, develop new value streams for commercial building owners, and provide the end-use flexibility required to dynamically balance the distribution grid.
U.S. DOE anticipates awarding up to $10 million to 5-10 projects submitted by State, local, and tribal government entities. Concept papers are due July 27 at 5:00 PM Eastern, and full applications are due September 28 at 5:00 PM Eastern. Click here to view the full FOA.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally-funded grant program that aims to assist low-income households, primarily those who pay a high proportion of household income on home energy, in meeting their immediate energy needs. In Tennessee, LIHEAP is administered through a network of 19 local agencies that reach all 95 counties.

Applicants must come from eligible households with income at or below 150% of U.S. Poverty Guidelines. Applications, along with all necessary verifications, must be submitted through the designated LIHEAP agency in the applicant's county of residence. LIHEAP is a one-time assistance offered to help defray heating and cooling expenses, as long as funding is available. LIHEAP assistance does not go directly to the client or applicant; rather direct payments are made through the LIHEAP agency to the local utility company or energy supplier.

For more information or further assistance with the application process, please contact your local LIHEAP agency. Click here for a list of agencies and counties they serve. Click here to learn more about LIHEAP in Tennessee.

Virtual Live Energy Education Shows
OEP’s K-12 Energy Education program has partnered with Nashville-based Mr. Bond’s Science Guys to host a summer series of Virtual Live Energy Education shows. The shows provide demonstrations on several energy-related topics, including sound energy, potential energy, chemical reactions, and radiant energy. Each show includes over a dozen educational experiments and lasts approximately 40 minutes. So far, the virtual program has reached 14 schools and libraries with nearly a thousand views. Two more shows are scheduled this summer on July 7 at 10:00 AM Central and July 22 at 2:00 PM Central. To learn more, click here.
Webinar: Low-Income Solar Program Strategies
U.S. DOE Better Buildings is hosting a webinar on July 9 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Central titled, “Program Design with Everyone in Mind: Low-Income Solar Program Strategies.” This webinar will highlight examples of several low-income renewable energy initiatives, including the Solar in Your Community Challenge, the Clean Energy for Low-income Communities Accelerator, and U.S. DOE’s recently launched National Community Solar Partnership. Speakers will include representatives from the Philadelphia Energy Authority, Clean Energy States Alliance, and the Denver Housing Authority. Click here to register.
Webinar: Strategies to Combine Energy + Health Upgrades in Multifamily Housing
U.S. DOE Better Buildings is hosting a webinar on July 21 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Central titled, “Strategies to Combine Energy + Health Upgrades in Multifamily Housing.” This interactive webinar will provide an opportunity for speakers and attendees to share their strategies for combining energy and health upgrades to help promote health and wellness for residents of multifamily buildings. Panelists will present case studies on innovative partnerships between affordable housing providers, public health, and building science stakeholders to advance “energy + health” initiatives and will share experiences related to the pursuit of FitWel® certification for healthy buildings. Click here to register.
2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is hosting its virtual 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings from August 17-21. This year’s theme, “Efficiency: The Core of a Clean Energy Future,” seeks to recognize the rapidly evolving ecosystem of the energy industry as well as the underlying importance of efficiency. Whatever the surrounding goals for expansion of clean energy systems and services, the ability to design and operate efficient buildings is an essential foundational requirement.

The virtual conference will feature panels focused on residential and commercial buildings, resilient and sustainable communities, smart buildings and smart grids, energy efficiency policy, and energy efficiency and equity. Early bird registration continues through July 16. Click here to register.

NASEO's State Clean Energy Innovation Report
NASEO has released a new report on clean energy innovation and economic development titled, “States and Cleantech Innovation: An Examination of State Energy Offices’ Roles in Clean Energy Technology-Based Economic Development.” The report sheds light on strategies that states can use to realize the long-term job creation, revenue generation, and environmental benefits of clean energy technologies. These strategies include the promotion of clean energy technology innovation and commercialization, creation of a business and policy environment conducive to such innovation, direct state involvement and investment in clean energy technology advancement, and program design that leads to the formation of strategic partnerships to address disparities in representation in the clean energy sector and capitalize on shared priorities among organizations.
The report highlights the need for State Energy Offices to pursue models that promote coordination and communication among stakeholders. As an example, the reports notes that TDEC OEP supports clean energy technology investment in Tennessee through its participation in the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC). TDEC OEP's involvement in TAEBC helps to connect, educate, and promote partnerships among business leaders and public officials to foster the growth of advanced energy technologies, companies, and jobs within the state.
Bioenergy Tools for Students and Educators
OPERATION BioenergizeME is the U.S. DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office’s education and workforce development base camp for students and educators and anyone seeking to better understand the promises and challenges in developing a thriving bioeconomy. The initiative provides a toolkit, which includes a Bioenergy Basics crash course, classroom resources including lesson plans and activity books, educational games and quizzes, instructional videos and webinars, and opportunities for educational and professional development through fellowships and external programs.
The initiative’s mission is to improve public accessibility to information about bioenergy production and the bioenergy industry; support formal and informal education in exploring issues relevant to sustainable production of biopower, biofuels, and other bioproducts; and engage future scientists and engineers in developing solutions to technical and nontechnical challenges associated with broad adoption of bioenergy technologies.
Visit the TDEC Office of Energy Programs Website at
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