An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

November 2010 Archives

Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores announced today that it will become a major participant in The EV Project, an initiative to increase the adoption of electric vehicles by creating a solid charging infrastructure across the country.

Starting next spring, the company will install ECOtality's Blink EV charging stations at 24 restaurant and store locations in "The Tennessee Triangle," the 425-mile stretch of interstate highway that connects Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.

"Our announcement with Cracker Barrel is an important step towards building the rich EV infrastructure needed to promote the consumer adoption of EVs," said Don Karner, President of ECOtality North America. "Our plan for The EV Project was to create an interconnected network of EV infrastructure that would allow EV drivers to live their lives without limitations."

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As the holidays roll around, kitchens will see heavy use, so its more important than ever to remember to dispose of grease and cooking oil in safe and environmentally friendly ways.

Options exist for both residential and commercial kitchens to recycle used cooking oil/fryer oil into biofuel.

However, grease should be disposed of in the trash instead of down drains, sinks, or toilets. Otherwise it may build up and clog water and wastewater pipes. The safest way is to pour grease into a can for disposal in the trash. It's easy to make a homemade grease can -- use any empty metal can (not plastic, which melts) and disposable, heat-resistant oven bags. Just toss the bags in the trash after the grease cools and reuse the can.

Starting November 29, several area locations will accept used cooking oil in any closed, non-glass container  for recycling into cleaner burning biodiesel by Clean Energy Biofuels. The cooking oil must not contain bacon grease, lard, meat drippings, or water. The organization also operates a service for restaurants.

Keep reading for a full list of locations.

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National Park adds hybrids to fleet

GATLINBURG -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has added seven Ford Escape Hybrids to its fleet.

The vehicles were purchased using a $197,550 grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, according to the National Park Service.

The park's new cleaner hybrids will replace seven much more polluting vehicles, including two full-size pickups, three station wagons, and a sedan, some of which are over 20 years old, so emissions reduction are projected to be substantial.

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Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston, Texas-based power transmission company, has proposed a $3.5 billion project with TVA to bring power from windmills in Oklahoma and Texas to customers in the Tennessee Valley.

Dave Flessner of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the project will require approval from at least four federal and state regulatory agencies. But TVA officials say such a project could provide a major source of green power.

Jimmy Glotfelty, executive vice president of external affairs for Clean Line Energy, said the company has asked state regulators in Oklahoma and Arkansas for permission to pursue the project.

State's energy rebates get few takers

Tennessee was one of the last states to launch a rebate program for Energy Star-certified appliances using federal dollars.

The multi-million dollar program, launched in August of this year, has had few takers reports Anne Paine of the Nashville daily The Tennessean.

Tennessee's program covers only heating and cooling systems with $250 rebates for qualified central heating and cooling systems and also for air-source heat pumps; $150 rebates for gas furnaces; and $40 for room air conditioners.

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The Knox County Library's "Brown Bag Green Book" lunch and learn series will conclude its 2010 discussions with a look at "Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys," by Robb Dunn.

Participants will meet noon Wednesday, Nov. 17 at the East Tennessee History Center Auditorium at 601 S. Gay St.

Todd Witcher, executive director of Discover Life in America - an organization that studies the biodiversity of the Smoky Mountains - will lead the discussion.  Dunn's book chronicles the ongoing effort to discover and study new forms of life.

For more information about the event call 865-215-8763 or visit the Knox County Library's Brown Bag Green Book site.

The Brown Bag Green Book series will resume in January.

As electric vehicles become more popular, being able to find a charging station for your vehicle will become increasingly important.  An upcoming information session with ECOtality will discuss how businesses can host electric charging stations, including site assessment, types of chargers and installation costs.

ECOtality is a renewable energy company that is working with the state to develop electric vehicle infrastructure in Tennessee. It and other presenters will be part of an information session on electric vehicle charging stations for businesses 9-11:30 a.m. Nov. 17 at the Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square.

Other presenters include KUB, TVA and Nissan.

Information sessions will also take place Nov. 15 at the Nashville Airport Marriott and Nov. 19 at the Chattanooga Doubletree Hotel.

RSVP to or call (615) 823-7299.

The full meeting agenda is available after the cut.
Law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz will present a solar industry update, "What's Next on the Horizon for the Solar Industry," 3:30 p.m. EST Nov. 9.

Speakers include:

--Kelly Frey, a Baker Donelson shareholder, on the future of Renewable Energy Certificates
--Jim Schmidt, senior public policy advisor with the firm, on what to expect during the transition of Tennessee's new administration. He will also discuss the legislative process and the state departments of Revenue and Economic and Community Development.
--Jay Sanseverino, director of programs at the Tennessee Solar Institute, will discuss the future of his organization.

The program will take place at Baker Donelson's Nashville office, but will be available by video feed to the Knoxville office at 265 Brookview Center Way Ste. 606.  The event is free, but registration is required to or 615-726-5550.

The program is the second in a series presented by the Baker Donelson Solar Initiative. The firm is a charter member of the Tennessee chapter of the Solar Energy Industry Association.
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Clint Brewer and Chas Sisk of the Tennessean report today that former Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr, Gov. Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber have created a company, Silicon Ranch Corp., that will engage in what Farr described as "a new model for deploying solar across the U.S."

The company was set up as a Delaware corporation in August before Farr stepped down from his position as one of the state's top two economic development officials.

Corporate records for Silicon Ranch show Bredesen is the chairman of the company, Kisber its president and Farr the vice chairman and secretary.

Silicon Ranch also is subleasing office space from a company, Pathway Lending, that routinely partners with the state on economic development deals.

<a href="">Read the full story at The Tennessean.</a>

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Larisa Brass, writing for the News Sentinel, reports that researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working on a magnetic charging system for vehicles, eliminating the need to plug in for charging.

The idea has been several years in the making, and engineers now have a proof of concept, said Mitch Olszewski, director of power electronics and electrical power systems research at ORNL's National Transportation Research Center.

Studies cited by Olszewski show that up to 90 percent of utility workers with electric vehicles forgot to plug in their vehicles.

"What (behavior studies) find is people most apt to plug their vehicles in make it part of a routine," he said. "People that don't have that kind of a routine, they're less likely to plug it in," he said.

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