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State Energy Efficiency Projects to Cost $5.25M in First Year

Press Release from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; Jan. 11, 2012:

Projects Benefit Both the Environment and Bottom Line

Nashville – Tennessee Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey, Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau and General Services Commissioner Steven G. Cates today announced a series of energy efficiency projects in state government, as well as the new Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program. The state projects, as well projects for other public and private entities that will be funded through the grant program, are designed to both increase cost savings and decrease emissions.

“Increasing energy efficiency in state government will help us be even better stewards of both taxpayer dollars and our environment,” Haslam said. “These projects will benefit Tennesseans on both fronts, and I look forward to implementing additional projects as we move forward.”

Funding for the projects comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state – at approximately $5.25 million per year. In the first year, $2.25 million will go to fund air quality grants for local governments, municipalities, utilities, other organizations and private entities. The remaining $3 million will fund energy efficiency projects in state government. The first round of state projects was announced today:

· Nissan LEAF Purchases – Tennessee will purchase five Nissan LEAF electric vehicles for the state fleet and will add two charging stations. The cars have zero emissions and are made in Tennessee. Replacing five motor pool vehicles with the electric LEAFs for urban travel will substantially reduce the emissions that can cause adverse health conditions due to air quality non-attainment. Replacing a conventional vehicle with an electric vehicle in a metro area reduces volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide by 100 percent, sulfur oxides by 75 percent, nitrogen oxides by 69 percent and particulates by 31 percent.

· Tennessee Tower Window Film – The Department of General Services will add reflective film to all exterior windows in the Tennessee Tower to reduce solar radiant heat gain, thereby reducing HVAC energy consumption and increasing occupant comfort. The upfront cost for the window film is $610,000. With an estimated annual energy savings of $362,000, the project is expected to pay for itself in less than two years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,451 metric tons per year. The Tennessee Tower was built in 1970, and is the largest state building in Tennessee.

· TDEC Nashville Environmental Field Office HVAC – TDEC will test, adjust and balance the existing HVAC system at its Nashville Environmental Field Office to correct deficiencies and optimize energy usage. The upfront cost for the project is $39,000. With an estimated annual energy savings of $11,100, the project is expected to pay for itself in approximately 3.5 years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 metric tons per year.

· Fall Creek Falls Inn – Tennessee State Parks will work with Tennessee Tech to install a heat recovery water heater system at the Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn and Conference center in Pikeville. A heat recovery water heater utilizes a dual cycle heat pump to scavenge heat from a recirculating chilled water loop to heat hot water, while simultaneously providing additional chilled water capacity. The upfront cost for the project is $150,000. With an estimated annual energy savings of $73,205, the project is expected to pay for itself in about two years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 245 metric tons per year.

· Fall Creek Falls Cabins – Tennessee State Parks will convert 30 cabins to utilize geothermal energy at a rate of 10 cabins per year over three years. The upfront cost to convert all 30 cabins is $600,000. With an estimated annual energy savings of $88,552, the total project is expected to pay for itself in just over 6.5 years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 676 metric tons per year.

“In prioritizing projects, we looked at cost of implementation, energy savings and emissions reductions,” said Martineau. “We will continue to work with the Department of General Services to look for projects that maximize energy efficiency within state government, and I hope that others outside of state government will take part in the grant program so we can spread these benefits even further.”

“We focus on the environmentally conscious design, construction, maintenance and operation of all state assets,” said Cates. “By making intelligent choices today, we prepare our state for a greener tomorrow.”

In addition to the state government projects, the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program will provide financial assistance to local governments, utility districts and private businesses and organizations in Tennessee for a variety of projects using innovative technology to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Eligible categories include:

· Cleaner Alternative Energy – biomass, geothermal, solar, wind

· Energy Conservation – lighting, HVAC improvements, improved fuel efficiency, insulation, idling minimization

· Air Quality Improvement – reduction in greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen, hazardous air pollutants

A total of $2.25 million will be available in the first round of grants. The maximum grant amount per project is $250,000. Grant applications are available on TDEC’s website at www.tn.gov/environment/energygrants and will be accepted until March 30, 2012. Recipients are expected to be announced by mid-May.

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Business and Economy Environment and Natural Resources Featured News Tax and Budget

TDEC: Budget Reductions May Drain Other Revenues

State environmental regulators say they’re willing to chop $4.4 million worth of green from their budget next year but warned the governor that some of those cuts come with strings attached.

More than half the department’s $349 million budget comes from the federal government, often in the form of federal matching funds that would shrink or disappear if state spending were cut, according to Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau.

“We don’t want to leave that federal money on the table,” Martineau told Gov. Bill Haslam at a Capitol Hill budget hearing Nov. 15.

The department is requesting a $166 million state budget, although $85.8 million comes from dedicated state funding such as fees and revenues. TDEC oversees 53 state parks, which welcome 30 million visitors annually, but is also a major enforcer and administrator for state and federal government regulations like those that address clean air and water.

Cuts that would reduce the department’s budget by 5 percent, as requested by Haslam, include reducing funding to maintain and fix parks and equipment, and leasing out or closing parks with outdated facilities and limited visitors. But moves to close those state parks would result in more than $1 million in lost revenue, and eliminating 23 jobs in the Bureau of Environment would mean losing more than a half-million dollars in federal funds and fees, Martineau said.

Haslam is expected to cut as much as $400 million from this year’s estimated $30 billion budget to make up for increased costs in state government that are outpacing growth in state revenues.

“As we’ve told other folks, it’s our firm hope obviously we don’t have to ask everybody to do the full 5 percent,” Haslam told Martineau at the hearing.

Separately from the cuts, TDEC is asking Haslam for a $6.8 million permanent increase in dedicated funds instead of one-time money to help local governments and the state acquire park space and another $1.4 million next year to leverage federal money for a clean water program.

The department isn’t without its critics. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has called the agency “out of control” and launched a website in his push to roll back regulations he believes trip up businesses, including those at TDEC.

Haslam made a point over the summer to suggest that state agencies re-evaluate some of their regulations in a way that takes pressure off businesses, but none of those issues arose in TDEC’s budget hearing.

The department has managed to speed up some of its permitting processes, Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes said, and suggested other agencies mirror those efforts.

“Without spending hardly any money you’re becoming more effective and efficient, and we need to follow your example, all of us,” he told Martineau at the hearing.

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Metro Water: We Won’t Cut Off Service

Message from Metro Water Services; May 4, 2010:

“There are rumors that Metro Water Services plans to cut off water service to its customers. This is not true.

“In response to the rumors, we are concerned that citizens are filling bathtubs, buckets and other containers. This reaction is placing a significant strain on our water supply. We ask all citizens and businesses to stop using water for uses other than drinking, cooking, hand washing, and other critical uses.

“Lawn watering, watering of plants, car washing, cleaning sidewalks and parking lots, and similar uses are not essential and need to stop until the water shortages are resolved.

Sincerely,

Sonia Harvat

Metro Water Services”