An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

May 2011 Archives

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Nissan North America, Inc. has begun installation of 30 solar-assisted charging stations at the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant and the Nissan Americas headquarters in Franklin, Tenn.

The chargers are designed for use with the Nissan LEAF electric vahicle. They will be available for use by Nissan employees and visitors by July 1.

"These solar-assisted charging stations demonstrate our dedication to a zero-emissions society, and our dedication to bringing innovation to our home in Tennessee. Nissan in the coming year will expand our manufacturing presence, enhance our philanthropic efforts and make new additions to our headquarters operations, all in Tennessee," said Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas.

Part of the financing to build the charging stations came from a matching grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Once they are complete, the company will share useage and technical data with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and TVA for further study. 
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RALEIGH, N.C.  -- Electronic Recyclers International announced plans Monday to open a regional operations center at Alcoa Inc.'s former smelting plant in Badin, N.C. eventually providing jobs for 200 or more employees, reports Renee Elder of the Associated Press.

The company operates six other sites nationally that together recycle 140 million pounds of electronic products each year,  officials said.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, can be anything that uses electricity or takes batteries. Some contents in these items, such as battery acids and heavy metals, may contaminate dirt and groundwater if disposed of improperly.

By the time an electronic product goes through ERI's recycling process, and valuable materials are extracted, "about the only thing you have going to the landfill is dust," said Badin Mayor James Harrison.

Alcoa officials have pledged $5 million to improve the space, matching a $5 million investment by Electronic Recyclers.

Economic factors caused Alcoa, which has operations in Blount County, to close the Badin plant in 2007, Harrison said. The company has continued operating the dams and selling off the electricity generated.

Federal permits for the dams are now in contention, as the company seeks to renew a 50-year license to continue harnessing the river's power for power generation.

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Radio Station WYSH 1380 AM in Clinton, is having solar panels installed on the roof of the station, which should provide enough electricity to power the station, reports Bob Fowler of the daily Knoxville News Sentinel.

Station owner Ron Meredith estimates he'll slice his power bills in half - perhaps more - once he goes solar.

"I've always been energy-conscious and I don't see a time when energy costs will go down," he said. "The more technology we use at the station, the more energy we use."

The $80,000 project has been on hold nearly a year due to the economy and uncertainty over government incentives for the project. Those incentives, now approved, will bring Meredith's costs down to $24,000.

While the project was on hold, solar power technology advanced so much the installation will be able to generate another kilowatt of electricity, bringing the project to a total of 9 kilowatts, he said.

Read more at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Sharp Manufacturing Co. of America's solar site in Memphis and Waste Management Renewable Energy's landfill gas facility in Houston, Miss., are TVA's latest Renewable Standard Offer projects, an initiative for mid-size renewable energy generators supplying green power to TVA.

The Sharp solar project in Memphis, with a capacity of 201 kilowatts, or 0.2 megawatts, is expected to begin producing electricity by early June. Sharp also is a TVA Generation Partner and operates other solar generation facilities at its Memphis plant site.

Waste Management's landfill gas facility will provide 1.6 megawatts of capacity from methane produced at the company's Prairie Bluff Renewable Energy Facility. Generation at the site is scheduled to begin in March 2012.

The Houston, Miss., project is Waste Management's second Renewable Standard Offer site and the third overall in the TVA program. The company's 4.8 megawatt-capacity landfill gas facility in Camden, Tenn., became TVA's first program participant in January. It is scheduled to begin delivering power in September.

Started last fall, TVA's Renewable Standard Offer pays renewable energy generators based on the time of day the power is produced and the demand on the TVA system. The initiative is open to generators with a capacity of up to 20 megawatts using biomass, methane recovery, wind or solar energy sources. No single technology can exceed more than 50 percent of the program's total capacity of 100 megawatts.

The Renewable Standard Offer complements TVA's Generation Partners program, which purchases power from smaller generators with a capacity of up to 200 kilowatts at varied rates.
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Kingsport's newest Food City on Clinchfield Street is set to open this morning, and the store includes green features to help improve its environmental footprint and bottom line, reports Kate Prahlad of the Johnson City Press.

New energy saving concepts included in the new location range from energy efficient glass doors on all dairy, beverage and lunch meat cases to a skylight system designed for maximum energy efficiency -- on sunny days, store lights will dim, taking advantage of natural light. 

The interior décor features new ECO friendly polished concrete floors that require no waxing.

All accent light fixtures use LEDs and the chain recycles all its plastic from pallet wrapping and cardboard boxes

"We currently operate two Kingsport locations and have received tremendous support from the area residents.  We are extremely excited to be opening a third location and premiering some exciting new concepts for our company," said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. 

The location is Food City's second green prototype -- the first opened in Morristown last year.

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Hemlock Semiconductor may expand it's Tennessee operations, currently being built in Clarksville, Tenn., if an incentive package announced this week by state officials is approved, reports Erik Schelzig of the Associated Press.

The Haslam administration announced Monday it is pursuing a $150 million bond issue to make improvements at the site.

Following the announcement, Hemlock said the incentives could lead to a $3 billion expansion of the project.

Officials say that could mean another 900 jobs at the site.

Hemlock is building the $1.2 billion facility to manufacture polysilicon, which is used in solar energy applications. It expects to employ about 500 people when the facility opens next year.

A recent editorial in Clarksville's daily Leaf Chronicle also discussed the possible expansion, saying it would better position Clarksville as a hub for solar technology.

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In an attempt to gauge the state-wide needs of Tennessee's growing solar industry, the Tennessee Solar Institute is conducting an Industry Needs Assessment of firms within Tennessee's Solar Value Chain.The information gathered will be used to offer targeted technical assistance to Tennessee's solar industry and provide information for future state-wide initiatives that will grow and strengthen the Tennessee SVC.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The primary goals of the assessment include:

(1) Fully define Tennessee's Solar Value Chain (SVC);

(2) Identify specific factors that have helped expand the solar industry in Tennessee;

(3) Identify challenges for Tennessee firms in expanding the solar aspects of their businesses; and (4) Identify types of workers and training programs required to expand their businesses.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

To take the survey or for more information, please contact TSI at or at 1-866-SOLAR90.

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Alcoa Inc., which has manufacturing operations in Blount County, recently launched a new architectural panel for commercial buildings with a special coating that helps clean the panel and surrounding air.

Reynobond with EcoClean is an economically viable self-cleaning technology that reduces maintenance costs and helps with the decomposition of smog and other pollutants, from dirt to diesel fumes, which cling to building surfaces.

The product, developed with technology from Japanese manufacturer Toto, uses a titanium dioxide coating, called EcoClean, to the pre-painted aluminum surface of Reynobond. The result is an aluminum panel that, when combined with sunlight, acts as a catalyst to break down organic pollutants on its surface and in the air around it, like smog, into harmless matter which is then washed away by rainwater.

10,000 square feet of paneling has the same air cleaning capability of 80 trees, the company said.


In other 'green' Alcoa news, the company announced today it has become a minority investor in Electronic Recyclers International, the largest U.S. recycler of electronics waste.

"We see tremendous opportunity for aluminum in the consumer electronics market," said Alcoa Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Kevin Anton. "This partnership between our two companies enhances Alcoa's ability to deliver on its commitment to sustainability by increasing the recycling of consumer electronics and driving sustainable practices."

Alcoa partnered with ERI in 2010 to develop the free Aluminate recycling app for iPhone, as part of the company's goal of increasing the recycling rate of aluminum cans in the U.S. to 75 percent by the year 2015.

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Memphis-based BioDimensions is growing sugar beets on 200 acres near Whiteville, Tenn. in a facility shared with a local farmer.

Inside, they crush the crops to produce the roasted-sweet-smelling syrup they believe will be a key to a new industry in the Mid-South, reports Toby Sells of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Pete Nelson, one of the company's principals, calls beet juice "the new oil" and says anything made from oil, can be made from beet juice.

He hopes to be part of what could be an $8 billion dollar biofuels and bio-based products incustry in the mid-South, according to a 2009 study by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

The study (called the Regional Strategy for Biobased Products in the Mississippi Delta) looked at 98 contiguous counties in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky.

In the next 10 years, this industry could support some 25,000 jobs in rural and urban locations around the Mid-South, the study said.

Read the full story at the Commercial Appeal.
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In May of 2010, the EPA announced plans to create federal regulations for coal-ash disposal, welcome news to many Tennesseans affected by the 2008 coal ash spill at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant. Rules were expected by the end of last year, but delays were announced in December.

Now, officials say the rules may be delayed further, until 2012 -- or even 2013, reports Michael Collins in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"The target date for release of a final rule will be determined, pending a full evaluation of all the information and comments EPA received on the proposal," the agency said in a statement. "As we have said before publicly, the rule will likely not be published this year. Beyond that, no date has been set."

The EPA says it has gotten 450,000 public comments on the proposed rules and is in the process of reviewing those remarks.

Still, area environmental groups fear the push for new rules is becoming stalled in Washington due to industry opposition and a new political climate.

Read the full story at the News Sentinel.
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A loan program for businesses making energy efficient improvements has increased the maximum it will lend to $5 million, reports Larisa Brass in this month's Greater Knoxville Business Journal. That's up from the previous limit of $1 million.

The increase should help manufacturers, in particular, invest in larger projects that will reap more energy savings, says Amy Bunton, senior vice president at Pathway Lending, which administers the $50 million program, established last year with public and private funds.

The 10-year loans finance up to 100 percent for building retrofits, equipment replacement and upgrades, lighting and renewable power generation. The loan is designed to be repaid with the resulting savings.

For more information on the loans, see

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Image showing both a fluorescent and an incand...

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Beginning next year, new lighting standards by the federal government will go into effect. The rule will raise efficiency standards on certain types of incandescent and fluorescent bulbs -- in effect phasing out current bulbs which cannot meet the raised requirements. The new lighting standards are part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

It is estimated the standards will cut the amount of electricity used by affected lamps by 15 to 25 percent and save billions of dollars in energy costs.

It's important to note, however, that the government is not "banning" old bulbs as Mary Beth Breckenridge of the Akron Beacon Journal recently pointed out.

She reports, For the record:

--No, the government is not banning all incandescent light bulbs.

--No, you're not being forced to switch to fluorescent lighting.

--No, you won't have to change all your lamps and light fixtures.

Read her full Q&A column for more information on the upcoming changes: "Government isn't banning old bulbs".

Full information and fact sheets can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under Equipment Standards for Fluorescent and Incandescent Lamps
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