Tennessee Buys Renewable Energy For State Parks
Tennessee State Parks will purchase green power for every park where green power is available, making Tennessee one of the first state parks systems in the nation to utilize green power.
Forty-four of Tennessee’s 54 state parks will have access to green power through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Green Power Switch program. Green power is generated from renewable resources such as wind, solar and methane gas.
Green power is purchased in 150 kilowatt hour blocks at a cost of $4 per block. The state parks will purchase a combined total of 1,149 blocks per month. The additional investment of the state parks system in green power will cost $55,150 per year.
Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke said the financial investment in green power is being offset by energy efficiency measures implemented at state parks including lighting and cooling improvements at Norris Dam, Sycamore Shoals, Fall Creek Falls and Pickwick Landing State Parks and other energy efficiency improvements at Henry Horton and Pinson Mounds.
“Along with potential cost savings of over $190,000 that our parks improvements are predicted to achieve, we estimate that more than 3.4 million pounds of greenhouse gases and other pollutants will be averted from the atmosphere,” Fyke said. “Now we’re coupling that with the environmental benefits that will be achieved by meeting some of the state parks’ energy demands through green power.”
“The renewable resources used to generate green power are free, but the technology required to harness them costs a little more,” explained Jim Keiffer, senior vice president of marketing for TVA. “As the demand for green power increases, however, that will help drive down the cost of these cleaner technologies.”
Keiffer explained that TVA, a federal utility, receives power from the Buffalo Mountain Wind Park, the only commercial-scale wind-generating site in the southeast, which is located in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. The park recently expanded its capacity from three windmills to 18.
Ten of TVA’s 16 solar generating sites are located in Tennessee. TVA also operates a methane co-firing project located in Memphis, powered by the methane waste by-product from the city of Memphis’ wastewater treatment facility.
The state of Tennessee currently purchases green power for the Executive Residence and state buildings in downtown Nashville.
Fyke said the state parks’ purchase equates to the environmental benefits of planting 418 acres of trees. Four dogwood trees, symbolizing the environmental benefits of planting the 418 acres of trees, were provided by the Iris Fund and will be planted in four state parks. The Iris Fund uses funds generated by the state parks specialty license plate for native planting projects in Tennessee State Parks.