The current population of the “Volunteer State,” Tennessee is approximately 6.83 million people. In April 2019, state utilities used nuclear (48.6%), coal (23.6%), renewable energy (16.4%) and natural gas (11.4%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, biomass and solar are the primary sources of renewable energy in Tennessee.
Although Tennessee is dependent on coal and natural gas for power, residents of the state are becoming increasing concerned about climate change. Tennessee is one of 24 states that offers a state-run grant program to purchase, install and construct renewable energy projects. Tennessee is also one of 36 states that offers state-run loan programs for renewable energy projects.
Communities across Tennessee are making sustainable, green energy a priority. Chattanooga, the state’s fourth largest city has gone from America’s “dirtiest” city in 1969 to Outside magazine’s Best Town Ever. Chattanooga’s transformation is a result of the following actions by city and business leaders:
1. The city committed to SolSmart, a Department of Energy (DOE) program to make it faster, easier and more affordable for communities to go solar.
2. The city recently opened its first solar project for a water and wastewater treatment facility.
3. The city has cut energy use by 30% since 2013, achieving the greatest energy-use-intensity saving in the United States.
4. The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce will soon launch a plan to provide the regional community with green transportation.
5. The federal corporation, Tennessee Valley Authority expects to triple its solar portfolio by 2021.
6. Local businesses including the Chattanooga Airport, Volkswagen and Blue Cross Blue Shield generate more than 15 MW of solar energy to power their operations.
7. Local nonprofit, “Thrive Regional Partnership” promotes responsible growth in the region, believing economic growth and environmental preservation enhance one another.
8. Local nonprofit, “green spaces” has recently launched an integrated community sustainability plan.
Tennessee utilities have been slow to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. However, the move to clean green, sustainable energy is now gaining momentum in the Volunteer State.
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