DOE officially approves state's solar energy initiative

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 12:41am
Staff Reports


Governor Phil Bredesen’s statewide plan that prioritizes energy savings, creates or retains jobs, increases the use of renewable energy and reduces carbon pollution got a lift from the U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday.

DOE Secretary Steven Chu confirmed funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the Volunteer State Solar Initiative in Tennessee.

“This funding will provide an important boost for the state’s economy, help to put Americans back to work, and move us toward energy independence,” Chu said. “It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy while insisting that taxpayer dollars be spent responsibly.”

Bredesen said he was gratified by the Obama administration’s support.

“Tennessee has enjoyed considerable success in recruiting solar jobs to our state,” the governor said, citing recent multi-billion-dollar investments by solar-industry firms Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie AG. “Our new initiative, funded by the Recovery Act, will help ensure that we have bright prospects for continued clean-energy job growth.”

Tennessee is receiving 40 percent of its total State Energy Program (SEP) Recovery Act funding immediately. The initial 10 percent of total funding was previously available to support planning activities; the remaining 50 percent of funds will be released once the state meets reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act.

After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, the state will receive $31 million in additional funding, for a total of nearly $62.5 million.

According to Bredesen, Tennessee will use its State Energy Program Recovery Act funds to establish the Volunteer State Solar Initiative, a comprehensive solar energy and economic development program, focusing on job creation, education, renewable power production, and technology commercialization.

The initiative consists of two projects: The Tennessee Solar Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which will focus on industry partnerships to improve the affordability and efficiency of solar products; and the West Tennessee Solar Farm, a five-megawatt, 20-acre power generation facility in Haywood County that will be one of the largest installations in the Southeast and serve as a demonstration tool for education and economic development.


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3 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 9/17/09 at 9:07

This is a step forward in handling the employment problem in TN.

By: idgaf on 9/17/09 at 1:41

This is another waste of taxpayer money. 62 million.

By: dnewton on 9/17/09 at 10:13

It will take two years for the government to collect he economic data required to either prove or disprove the claims of added employment or economic development. By that time additional claims somewhere will oversharow this stupid assertion. There is no formal way to figure out exactly what action caused what reaction in an economy. State by state, county by county and city by city accounting of per capita income, population and GDP are collected but they refer to all activity, not just one activity.

So far, the only green jobs created is when the state passed a law requiring counties to do building inspection on new homes. These new green jobs are essentially building inspector jobs/government jobs.

Haywood county has had a history of declining population and has many ideal empty industrial parks next to the Interstate. This has done nothing for their economic development and everything that the governor and his friend Matt Kisber has done while in office has had no positive effect on the population or the employment according to Bureau of Economic Analysis records. In fact, everything that the state has done since 1979 seems to have failed to keep manufacturing jobs. Haywood county gets over $27 million dollars a year from paychecks earned outside of the county.