Figure 3: Energy Consumption in Tennessee, the South, and the U.S. by Fuel Type, 2007 Tennessee is also home to one of the largest Department of Energy energy efficiency programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). By partnering with ORNL, TVA and the Tennessee State Energy Office have helped to test and demonstrate advanced energy technologies including a collection of near net-zero energy Habitat for Humanity homes in Lenoir City.
Tennessee already has a number of energy efficiency policies in place. For instance, the Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act passed by the General Assembly in 2009 focuses on having states lead by example, encouraging the growth of clean jobs, and promoting greater energy efficiency in the residential sector. The legislation includes launching a five-year accelerated program to improve energy efficiency in state buildings, establishing a statewide residential building code, and expanding eligibility for federal funds used to weatherize existing homes in low-income areas. Several programs offer assistance for small business energy efficiency projects, including low-interest loans, and free energy audits. More state initiatives are described in recent Southern States Energy Board and National Association of State Energy Officials publications.4, 5
Nevertheless, the 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (and other studies of the State and region) suggests that additional policy initiatives are needed in the State to encourage households, businesses, and industries to utilize energy more effectively. Specifically, the ACEEE study rated Tennessee 38th of the 50 states and DC for its adoption and implementation of energy-efficiency policies. This score is based on the state’s performance in six energy efficiency policy areas: utility and public benefits, transportation, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state government initiatives, and appliance efficiency standards. 6
In the Meta-Review of Efficiency Potential Studies and Their Implications for the South, Chandler and Brown (2009) reviewed six energy-efficiency studies that covered Tennessee. According to this meta-review, estimates of “maximum achievable” potential energy savings range from 14-26% of projected energy consumption in 2020. Tennessee’s energy-efficiency potential would be higher than this range with the implementation of all cost-effective opportunities, but the number of studies with such estimates is limited. 7