State's energy appetite sizable

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - Tennessee ranks 14th in the nation in carbon emissions, 16th in per capita energy consumption and first in per capita electricity consumption.

In other words, as the cost - both economically and environmentally - of energy consumption rises, there is work to be done in managing and reducing the state's energy appetite.

The Governor's Task Force on Energy Policy convened for its first meeting to begin that work.

A presentation by Jeff Wadsworth, Battelle executive and former director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, launched the more than two-hour meeting at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development's new "green" headquarters in Nashville.

Wadsworth's remarks - including the above-mentioned state energy statistics - were followed by presentations from William Bauer, program manager for the state's building energy management program, and William Rusie, assistant commissioner of Tennessee's Department of General Services.

The task force is made up of 17 representatives appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen from state and local governments, businesses, utilities and research organizations.

Local representatives on the task force include Dana Christensen, associate laboratory director for energy and engineering at ORNL, and Knoxville architect Elizabeth Eason.

Bredesen moderated the meeting and set goals for the task force, which will meet for the next several months to outline short- and long-term energy goals for the state.

The group has been directed to develop a statewide energy policy, which Bredesen has said he hopes will give Tennessee leadership status in a growing area of interest across the nation.

As the meeting began, Bredesen set out three goals he hopes the task force will focus on in the months ahead.

"Energy is obviously an enormous issue," he said. "What I'm really hoping to do with this group in the next few months… (is) find some attainable goals and meet them."

The first would be tackling the "low-hanging fruit" of greening the state's own operations.

The state owns 9 million square feet of buildings and owns a fleet of 5,000 vehicles that Bredesen said should be an easy target for energy savings and renewable- energy initiatives.

Second, he said, would be to develop comprehensive public- and private-sector legislation aimed at improving the state's energy statistics.

Such a package, while too late for introduction during the current General Assembly, could be ready to go next year.

Third, he said, "I want us to think about how we use some of the assets we have in Tennessee, ORNL for example, to help drive the development of clean energy technology as an economic tool.… This is an area where we could take a leadership position as a state."


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