Bredesen signs Tennessee Clean Energy Future act


Gov. Phil Bredesen

Gov. Phil Bredesen

NASHVILLE-Governor Phil Bredesen this week ceremonially signed into law the Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act of 2009, legislation that has been dubbed “the cornerstone for all future energy policy” in the Volunteer State.

In signing the act, Bredesen was joined by key lawmakers who were instrumental in passing the bill, as well as members of the Governor’s Task Force on Energy Policy whose recommendations served as the basis for the new law. More than 50 lawmakers co-sponsored the legislation, with key sponsors including: Senators Jim Kyle, Andy Berke, Randy McNally and Ken Yager, and Representatives Les Winningham (who represents Clay County), Phillip Johnson, Kevin Brooks, Jim Hackworth, Joe McCord and Mike Turner.

“This landmark bill is the product of year-long talks on how best to position the Volunteer State as a leader in energy efficiency and conservation and clean-energy jobs,” Bredesen said. “Coupled with financial commitments to new solar energy and electric vehicle initiatives, this new law helps set the stage for a brighter clean energy future in Tennessee.”

Among other changes, the Clean Energy Future Act requires state government to do a better job “leading by example” in managing its buildings and vehicle fleet; makes the clean-energy technology sector eligible for Tennessee’s emerging industry tax credit; and promotes residential energy efficiency by streamlining the distribution of federal funds for weatherization of low-income homes and establishing a limited statewide residential building code for new construction.

The new law enjoys broad support among business and environmental groups ranging from the Home Builders Association of Tennessee to the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. SEEA, a regional coalition of business, government and environmental interests, called it “the cornerstone for all future energy policy in Tennessee.”

Separately, the 2009-2010 state budget authorizes the Volunteer State Solar Initiative, a comprehensive solar-energy and economic-development program that will use federal Recovery Act funds to advance job creation, education, research, and renewable-power production in Tennessee. Also, the budget includes energy-related funds for state government to partner with Nissan and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the future deployment of charging stations for electric vehicles.

Finally, Bredesen used the occasion of signing the Clean Energy Future Act to announce a separate $9.3 million grant program – also to be funded by the federal Recovery Act – for small- and medium-sized cities and counties seeking cost-savings through energy-efficiency upgrades in their local government facilities. The funds are subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Preference for the new grants – up to $100,000 for a city or county – will be given to local governments that commit to promoting community-wide energy efficiency efforts, including minimum standards for new home construction.

“Sound energy policy begins with a statewide commitment to efficiency and conservation,” Bredesen said. “The fact is: The cleanest energy of all is the energy that we don’t use. I look forward to working with local governments to develop additional programs in the future that promote efficiency across our state.”