TVA Seeks Public Comment on Private-Scale Solar Programs
TVA’s Green Power Providers (GPP) program allows TVA customers and homeowners to install grid-tied, distributed energy generation systems (e.g., solar) of up to 50 kW in size and be paid by TVA for each kWh generated. In February 2019, the TVA Board approved the closure of the GPP program to new applications effective January 1, 2020, pending completion of appropriate environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). To comply with NEPA, TVA has released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that evaluates the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of three GPP program scenarios: 1) continuing the GPP program unchanged; 2) closing the GPP program and providing no replacement program; and 3) closing the GPP program and implementing a new, private-scale renewable service option. For the latter option, TVA proposes to establish a Quality Contractor Network of vetted solar installers to assist the public in installing private-scale solar. The offering would also establish installation standards and best practices for solar photovoltaic systems, including battery-storage technologies, inspection requirements, and an efficient interconnection process.
TVA is seeking comment on its draft EA through November 8. Any comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the administrative record and will be available for public inspection.
Comments may be submitted online, via email to, or by mail to Matthew Higdon, NEPA Specialist, at 300 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11B, Knoxville, TN 37902.
Celebrate Energy Awareness Month, Participate in an “Energy Treasure Hunt”
According to the Office of Federal Sustainability, the U.S. federal government is the largest energy consumer in the nation, managing more than 350,000 buildings and 600,000 vehicles. As such, U.S. DOE celebrates Energy Awareness Month each October to help federal agencies across the country meet energy efficiency laws and requirements and to provide leadership in energy management and building optimization, energy resilience and security, and deployment of advanced and distributed energy technologies. 
In recognition of Energy Awareness Month, U.S. EPA released a new suite of “Energy Treasure Hunt” tools to help building managers discover opportunities for energy and cost savings in their facilities. During these one-to-three-day “hunts,” participants can use energy “treasure map” checklists to uncover opportunities for efficiency projects or policies that, ultimately, save money. Examples of energy savings opportunities include identifying where lights have been left on in unoccupied spaces; inspecting doors and windows to find gaps and cracks that may leak conditioned air; discovering office equipment that is mistakenly left on overnight; ensuring that thermostats are set to appropriate temperatures; etc. Treasure map checklists have been prepared for 14 different building types, including K-12 schools, hospitals, offices, convenience stores, multifamily buildings, and more. Participants are encouraged to share a summary of their findings with U.S. EPA to demonstrate successes and to identify candidates for case studies. Those who complete a treasure hunt and submit their findings to U.S. EPA before December 31 will be eligible for special recognition by the department.
TDEC OEP Promotes K-12 Energy Education in Tennessee
OEP provides educators with the knowledge and resources necessary to teach energy concepts in the K-12 classroom, helping Tennessee educators inspire their students and prepare them for success in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. OEP staff travel across the state to support year-round professional development and student learning opportunities in energy education. Learn more about OEP’s K-12 Energy Education programming here.
In September, OEP participated in three K-12 Energy Education events for the Clinch School STEM-Family Engagement Night, the Tennessee Environmental Education Association Conference, and the STEAM Festival at Rock Island State Park. Through these events, OEP reached more than 400 students, educators, and parents with lessons on energy-related topics, including solar power, chemical reactions, electric circuitry, and more. To learn more about other K-12 Energy Education events that have previously taken place across Tennessee, click here.
Middle Tennessee Electric Installs Tesla Powerpack at Murfreesboro Substation
Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC) recently purchased and installed a Tesla Powerpack at one of their substations in Murfreesboro. By charging the Powerpack at times when TVA electricity rates are low (e.g., overnight) and discharging energy from the Powerpack when energy demand costs are higher (e.g., during daytime peak), the battery energy storage system will help reduce MTEMC’s monthly wholesale electricity purchases during peak demand hours, a change that should result in tens of thousands of dollars in energy cost savings each year. Learn more about this project here.
TenneSEIA Holds 2019 Tennessee Valley Solar Conference
The Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA) hosted its 2nd Annual Tennessee Valley Solar Conference on October 16 in Franklin. Around 230 conference attendees congregated to view presentations on the future of solar in TVA’s service territory; renewable energy market demand and opportunities; potential local power company partnerships; utility battery energy storage systems; and residential and mid-scale solar in the Tennessee Valley. During the conference, OEP’s Senior Energy Consultant Ryan Stanton moderated a panel on the intersection of solar and distributed energy resources, featuring discussion on bi-directional electric vehicle charging infrastructure, electric microgrids, and other grid edge technologies that could support solar proliferation.
Applications Open for Solar Decathlon Design Challenge
U.S. DOE recently released the 2019-2020 Competition Guide to provide information on its solar design challenge, the Solar Decathlon. The purpose of this collegiate competition is to take buildings in the United States to the next level through a variety of advancements, including making them more affordable for American families; incorporating grid-interactive technologies; improving construction productivity; providing greater comfort and healthier indoor environments; and optimizing operational efficiency with resilient solutions that will stand the test of time. Participating students get hands-on experience and unique training that prepares them to enter the clean energy workforce. The winners of the Solar Decathlon competition are selected from the teams that best blend technology, market potential, and design excellence with smart energy efficiency and production.
Collegiate team applications are currently being accepted for the Design Challenge and must be submitted to U.S. DOE by November 5. Visit for more information on the competition and registration process, or subscribe to the competition newsletter. For other questions, email
Applications Open for Collegiate Wind Competition 2021
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently released a request for proposals for students interested in competing in U.S. DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition, which will take place in the Spring of 2021. Students will be challenged to 1) design, build, and test a model wind turbine, and 2) design a hypothetical utility wind farm that maximizes energy production and balances environmental and community impacts. Applications are due by December 9. Click here to learn more about the opportunity.
REAP to Fund Rural Energy Projects
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. This program helps improve American energy independence by both increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers. Funding for Fiscal Year 2020 is available in a variety of forms, each under its own application process and timeline. Grant applications are due March 31, 2020. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
Funds may be used for renewable energy systems, such as biomass (biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels); geothermal for electric generation or direct use; hydropower below 30 MW; hydrogen; small and large wind generation; small and large solar generation; and ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation. With regard to transportation, REAP funds may be used for solar-assisted electric vehicle charging stations. Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of energy efficiency improvements, such as high efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC); insulation; lighting; cooling or refrigeration units; doors and windows; electric, solar, or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots; switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor; and replacement of energy-inefficient equipment.
Click here to learn more and to apply for REAP financial assistance. Click here to find the REAP point of contact for your Tennessee region.  
Sustainability Summit: Shaping a Resilient Knoxville
On the morning of November 8, Keep Knoxville Beautiful will host a sustainability summit at the Public Works Complex in Knoxville. The event will showcase environmental and sustainability efforts taking place across the city, including clean energy production, sustainable building development, and resource conservation. Local partners, including Discovery Inc., Kroger, and the Tennessee River Line Project, will highlight the ways in which their sustainable business practices are benefitting the city. The summit will also feature panelists from the City of Knoxville, TVA, the Knoxville Utilities Board, and Knoxville Area Transit, who will each discuss Knoxville’s future in sustainability. Registration is free, and breakfast is included.
Webinar: Supporting Renewable Energy Development on Rural and Agricultural Lands
The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) will host a free webinar on November 14, from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CT to discuss renewable energy development on rural and agricultural lands. Speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the North Caroline Department of Environmental Quality, and Sunrun will be on hand to discuss renewable technology developments in rural areas, policy best practices from states that have successfully supported such technologies, and financing options to support development of renewable/distributed energy resources in rural communities. Click here to register.
TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” Meeting
The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) is a champion of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, fostering the growth of the state’s advanced energy technologies, companies, and jobs. TAEBC will host its annual Opportunities in Energy meeting at The Square Room in Knoxville on December 5 from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET. Representatives from Verizon Wireless will provide a keynote presentation on the deployment of 5G technologies and how such technologies can impact the energy sector. A full agenda will be made available soon. Click here to register for the meeting.
TREEDC 2019 Renewable Energy Summit
The Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council (TREEDC) will host its 2019 Renewable Energy Summit at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville from December 12-13. The TREEDC conference will feature a mayoral panel on best practices for economic development, energy efficiency, and renewable energy innovations. Attendees will also hear from State and federal government leaders on the future of renewable energy in Tennessee. A full agenda will be made available soon. Register for the event here.
2020 ACEEE Conference on Health, Environment, and Energy
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) will hold their annual Conference on Health, Environment, and Energy in New Orleans from January 21-23, 2020. The Conference will showcase research from ACEEE’s Health and Environment program as well as the work of prominent experts and academics in this growing field. Georges C. Benjamin, MD, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, will deliver a keynote address on public health approaches for addressing climate change. Other speakers will touch on energy programs that can support vulnerable populations, how health and energy targets can be translated into local action, and potential funding opportunities that can support the intersection between energy innovation and health outcomes. Participants may include health professionals, researchers, policymakers, regulators, advocates, and more. Physicians (CMEs), nurses (CNEs), public health professionals (CHES/CPH), architects (HSW LUs), and building science professionals can also earn continuing education credits at this event. Click here to view the preliminary conference agenda. Click here to register.
Energy Efficiency Jobs in America 2019 Report
A recent report from E2 and E4TheFuture states that, for the second year in a row, America’s energy efficiency businesses led the nation’s energy economy in creating jobs—accounting for about half (76,000) of the sector’s entire job growth in 2018 (151,700). For more than 41 states and the District of Columbia, energy efficiency employs more Americans (nearly 2.4 million workers in total) than the entire fossil fuel industry. In Tennessee, the energy efficiency sector employs more than 53,000 workers via the delivery of goods and services that lower energy use by improving technologies, appliances, buildings, and energy systems. More than half of these employees work in the HVAC sector, with an additional third working with ENERGY STAR appliances, efficient lighting, building materials, and insulation. The state’s energy efficiency workers comprise 24% of the state’s construction jobs and 25% of all energy sector jobs. Additionally, 12% of Tennessee residents employed in the energy efficiency sector are veterans. The report also details the number of energy efficiency jobs located in Tennessee’s metropolitan areas, congressional districts, and more. Click here to access the full report.
Visit the TDEC Office of Energy Programs Website at
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