Thanks to collaborative community efforts and new funding from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), hundreds of lower-income residents in Knoxville will soon have much more affordable utility bills. TVA recently announced the first round award winners in the Extreme Energy Makeovers project, part of TVA’s Smart Communities program. Knoxville received $7.12 million – after applying for $4.8 million – to provide whole-home energy retrofits at homes that are at least 20 years old and located in lower-income communities. TVA also awarded $6.29 million to Huntsville, Ala.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) actively participated in developing the collaborative project proposal in our hometown of Knoxville, and we are very pleased with the vow of confidence TVA has demonstrated by awarding the team more funding than was requested.
Erin Gill, the City of Knoxville’s director of sustainability, thanked SACE for its role in helping to develop the program proposal:
“SACE and the City of Knoxville have a long history of partnership, starting in 2007 with the City’s Energy & Sustainability Task Force and Knoxville’s Solar America Cities program. Now, SACE is a key community partner in the Smarter Cities Partnership’s efforts to promote energy efficiency, and Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover team benefited tremendously from SACE’s insights as we developed our project proposal. We’re particularly grateful for Taylor’s knowledge of industry best practice and his help in navigating some tricky requirements for measuring and verifying energy savings!”
The new program’s impact will be significant. The primary goal is to achieve 25% reductions in each home’s electricity consumption at a program cost of approximately $10 per square foot of conditioned living space. TVA estimates that the Extreme Energy Makeovers project will yield total savings of 1,000 MWh per year. Knoxville’s program should be able to assist about 615 homes over the next year and a half, with a target to start construction in June 2015. Each home will receive a comprehensive pre-retrofit energy audit, including a blower-door test, to identify the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures.
The retrofits will be implemented by contractors selected through a competitive procurement process by the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, which also implements Knoxville’s lower-income Weatherization Assistance Program using funds from the Department of Energy and other sources. Alliance to Save Energy will serve as the community outreach and education partner, and Libera Inc. will provide IT services.
TVA will spend $20 million on the Smart Communities program, which is part of broader suite of environmental projects that will cost a total of $290 million over the next five years. TVA agreed to launch the environmental projects as one of the stipulations in a 2011 Clean Air Act compliance agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, four states and three environmental groups.
SACE looks forward to continuing to engage in community efforts both in Knoxville and throughout the Southeast to advance the adoption of new energy efficiency programs that help people save money on their utility bills and reduce their carbon footprints.