Land of the Rising Sun Turns To Wind

The population of the state of Tennessee is approximately 6.89 million people. In March 2020, state utilities used nuclear (51.7%), natural gas (17.5%), renewable energy (16.8%) and coal (14.0%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, biomass and solar are the primary sources of renewable energy in Tennessee.

Although Tennessee is still dependent on natural gas and coal for over 30% of their 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. City of Millington, U.S. Navy, Memphis, Light, Gas and Water, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Silicon Ranch formed a public-private partnership to develop the Millington Solar Farm. The 53 MW capacity solar farm, located approximately 25 miles northeast of the city of Memphis co-locates clean energy generation and regenerative agriculture to manage vegetation, restore ecosystems and biodiversity, sequester carbon, and improve water quality.

Chattanooga, the state’s fourth largest city has gone from America’s “dirtiest” city in 1969 to Outside magazine’s Best Town Ever. The city’s transformation is a result of the following actions by city and business leaders:

  • The city committed to SolSmart, a Department of Energy (DOE) program to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for communities to go solar.
  • The city recently opened its first solar project for a water and wastewater treatment facility.
  • The city has cut energy use by 30% since 2013, achieving the greatest energy-use-intensity saving in the United States.
  • Local businesses including the Chattanooga Airport, Volkswagen and Blue Cross Blue Shield generate more than 15 MW of solar energy to power their operations.

Tennessee utilities have been slow to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. However, cities and businesses are now working together to use clean green, sustainable energy.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

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