It All Began in Chattanooga: DC Delegate Reflects on Recent Visit and Culmination of TAEBC Initiatives

by Cortney Piper, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

When members of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) visited Washington, DC in September as delegates to the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit, the trip marked the importance the Volunteer State plays in the nation’s advanced energy economy.

ssistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson introduces new efforts during the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit in Washington, DC

Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson introduces new efforts during the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit held in Washington, DC in late September. 

While the trip provided an opportunity to showcase Oak Ridge National Lab’s (ORNL) achievements in United States (US) clean energy manufacturing competitiveness, it also gave delegates a chance to reflect on TAEBC’s achievements over the past few years and how those successes helped lead to a productive DC visit, culminating in the announcement of two new efforts by Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson.

Those efforts include a national laboratory-industry collaboration pilot and a competitive solicitation to leverage national labs’ high-performance computing capabilities—to strengthen US clean energy manufacturing competitiveness.

I remember when TAEBC first captured the attention of Assistant Secretary Danielson in Chattanooga in 2014. The Assistant Secretary visited the city to learn more about how public and private partnerships can help businesses access assets for clean energy manufacturing; he listened to what TAEBC is doing to champion advanced energy in the Southeast and heard feedback from the private sector regarding how best to access and leverage federal energy assets in the state.

Bringing big and small businesses together with our advanced energy assets and a unified mission means everything to the advanced energy economy. Assistant Secretary Danielson carried many of the ideas shared, from Chattanooga to DC, and those ideas were reflected in the announcement in September of the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy sector’s most recent efforts as well as the Small Business Voucher Program announced in July.

Participating in the DC trip and witnessing the focus placed on Tennessee throughout the Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit clearly demonstrated that TAEBC continues to provide value to the membership by putting a national spotlight on the region. The Department of Energy (DOE) is listening and recognizing Tennessee for what we have and what we can achieve.

We began TAEBC as a business council designed to educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy assets, connecting assets with opportunities to create economic impact, and informing policy that expands and strengthens the industry.

We continue to support Tennessee in its effort to shine as a leader in this $1.3 trillion global market, helping economic development stakeholders attract businesses to the state, creating jobs for residents. Assistant Secretary Danielson’s recent announcements are examples of the growth and advancement that are central to TAEBC’s mission.

We have much to be proud of, much work to achieve and much more opportunities to discover. Let’s remember that our work matters; our goals are clear; and we have Washington‘s ear.

Thank you to all fellow delegates who helped bring home the message to DC that Tennessee holds the key to powering advanced energy throughout the nation.

TAEBC releases first advanced energy economic impact report

Tennessee’s advanced energy sector is a rapidly expanding and lucrative growth sector in Tennessee and a source of high-quality jobs, according to a new report released today, Wednesday, June 17, 2015 by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report is the first document of its kind that defines the scope and scale of Tennessee’s advanced energy sector and quantifies its economic impact. It identifies the number of jobs, contribution to state GDP and state/local taxes and number of companies associated with the state’s advanced energy sector.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Advanced energy is a rapidly expanding and lucrative growth sector in Tennessee. Nearly 325,000 jobs are supported by 17,334 firms in the state’s advanced energy sector in 2013.
  • Advanced energy requires skilled labor and thus is a source of high quality jobs in Tennessee.
    The annual average wage of a worker in advanced energy was $48,764, which is well above the state average.
  • Tennessee manufacturers benefit from a robust advanced energy sector.
    Especially Tennessee’s automotive manufacturers that are integrating advanced energy technologies into their processes and products as a result of higher fuel economy standards.
  • Advanced energy contributes significantly to our state and local economies.
    Tennessee’s advanced energy sector contributes $33.4 billion to state gross domestic product, while workers in the advanced energy sector pay more than $820 million in sales tax to state and local governments.
  • Advanced energy represents an opportunity to promote rural economic development.
    Currently, almost 80 percent of advanced energy activity is centered in just 20 counties in Tennessee. Davidson County leads Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.
    Rural Tennessee could benefit from further growth in advanced energy activity.
  • Tennessee is not the only state vying for a piece of the advanced energy economy. Highlighting our assets and opportunities will provide Tennessee with a competitive edge in the recruitment and retention of the advanced energy sector.
    Approximately 11 states including Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida are benchmarking and tracking their advanced energy economies.

“Advanced energy” is defined as any technology that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure and more efficient. Rather than favoring specific technologies, advanced energy is technology neutral. Examples include electric and plug-in hybrid cars, lightweight composites for the automotive industry, natural gas fueled trucks, pollution control equipment, bio energy, high-performance buildings, more efficient industrial processes, power reliability, smart grids, combined heat and power and the latest power generation technologies.

Read the news release here.

The report is available online here.

Alcoa, Inc. receives conditional Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing’s (ATVM) loan program enables the domestic manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles and components. To date, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) has helped accelerate the resurgence of American auto manufacturing by issuing more than $8 billion in direct loans, which supported the production of more than 9 million cars and approximately 35,000 direct jobs across eight states.

Recently, DOE announced a conditional commitment for a $259 million loan to Alcoa Inc. This conditional commitment is the first issued by DOE under the ATVM loan program since Secretary Moniz announced a number of improvements to the program last year, and is the first step toward issuing a final loan to Alcoa. If finalized, the loan would support the company’s Alcoa, Tenn., manufacturing facility, where the company will produce high-strength aluminum for North American automakers looking to lightweight their vehicles.

According to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the ATVM loan program can play an important role in helping to finance expanded domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient technologies that will support the next generation of advanced vehicles.

The loan is good news for Alcoa, and for Tennessee. More than one-third of Tennessee manufacturing jobs are auto-related, and investment in advanced manufacturing is an important part of how our state will continue to attract good-paying jobs, said Senator Lamar Alexander.

The automotive sector in Tennessee represents what may be the single largest opportunity to expand the use of advanced energy technologies. The industry is looking to a number of these technologies to improve fuel efficiency demanded by government and consumers. Alcoa is an example of a company creating new materials that will make possible significant reductions of vehicle weight and improvements in gas mileage.

Alcoa estimates that its expanded production is expected to create an additional 200 permanent full-time jobs, in addition to 400 jobs at the peak of construction.

For more information on the ATVM loan program and Alcoa’s loan, click here.

ORNL unveils new crowdsourcing website for building technologies

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s homes and buildings, lower energy costs, and enhance U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing, the Energy Department launched the new Buildings Crowdsourcing Community website last week. Administered by TAEBC member Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the new site, buildings.ideascale.com, will help technology innovators collect, share and evaluate input from customers and other stakeholders about next-generation building technologies.

Innovators including start-ups, designers, buildings scientists, and students can use the website to share ideas that could develop into new energy efficient technologies for homes and buildings.  Those interested in participating can register through the ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community or they can vote on their favorite entries. The best ideas will be recognized during the Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office Industry Day hosted at ORNL in September.

The ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community is now accepting new idea submissions, comments, and votes and submissions. The website will stay open until May 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Site members and users can still view the submissions, comments, and votes after May 31, but participation on the site will end after the submission timeframe expires.

For more information, click here.

TAEBC Energy Manufacturer’s Roundtable

TAEBC reconvened participants from the Knox County Mayor’s manufacturer’s energy roundtable to talk more about energy challenges and opportunities the industry faces in Knox County.

Joining TAEBC at the RAMP conference were:

  • Dean Lee, Head Location Management, Siemens
  • Kennon Rollins, Engineering Manager, Keurig Green Mountain
  • Ben Armijo, Utilities Manager, Dow Chemical

As an end-use sector, manufacturing is the most diverse in the U.S. economy in terms of its energy sources, foundational technologies, and the products manufacturing produces. So, integrating advanced and energy efficient technologies into operations and process or end products, can help give our manufacturers a competitive edge.

All three representatives stressed the need for trusted partners, peer-to-peer information sharing and methods to reduce risks when they consider deploying a new, more efficient technology or process at their plant.

TAEBC’s Advanced Energy Asset Inventory provides a great first access point to manufacturers looking to deploy more efficient processes or technologies. During our visit to Washington D.C. to meet with the U.S. Department of Energy, we learned of several programs and technical assistance resources available to manufacturers. One in particular that assists with peer-to-peer learning is the Better Plants Challenge.

TAEBC continues to engage with the ten manufacturers from the summer roundtable to develop projects that can help our manufacturers gain more control of their energy costs. Stay tuned!

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