Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A belated welcome to 2010

Hello again! January was a blur of Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program development, meeting federal grant reporting deadlines, and working through the details of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a solar array. Without going into a description of the paperwork that keeps the wheels moving, here are some of January's highlights:

Notice to Proceed to Ameresco:
After City Council approval of the $19,082,060 energy savings performance contract, Ameresco was issued notice to proceed on 12/30/2009. They have since contracted with all their subs and are currently developing a project schedule to retrofit 99 City buildings with various energy improvements. We'll follow them through the process and keep you up to date on timeline and savings here.

Nissan Leaf Tour:
The City, TVA, ORNL, Nissan, and many of you were at Worlds Fair Park January 15 for an EV Project demonstration of the new Nissan Leaf, a zero emissions electric vehicle that is slated to hit the lots late this year. We're one of the initial test markets, along with Cities in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and California. Tennessee will be part of a network of recharging stations that will be established for the Leaf.

Note: The EV Project is a partnership between eTec (which received almost $100,000,000 in Department of Energy (DOE) grant funding for this effort) and Nissan, to deploy up to 4,700 vehicles and 11,000 charging systems in test markets. The 36-month-long project will collect and analyze Leaf and charging station data for use in developing a workable infrastructure for electric vehicles.

It was a cold morning, but there were over 30 people there getting hot coffee and biscuts, free Leaf T-shirts, and a chance to learn about and drive the new car, which is a sporty hatchback that's quiet and quick, and unlike the first marketed alternative vehicles, looks pretty normal.

RFQ for Solar PV:
An RFQ for a solar PV array is scheduled to be advertised this Friday, February 5 through March 5, with consultant selection on February 19. It's our first EECGB project to bid, and in a nutshell we're able to provide $250,000 as seed funding for a qualified firm to develop a viable 3rd party financing model in the TVA and KUB service areas.

The project has two phases, a due diligence period that will go through solar, structural, and environmental assessments, as well as develop a finance model and power purchase agreement through TVA's Generation Partners Program. The second phase is a design build, and will result in a roughly 100 kW solar array, ideally on the Knoxville Convention Center. It's been a complicated RFQ to draft and coordinate, so we know it will take creativity and a strong knowledge of the industry to pull together a competative submission.

We're really looking forward to watching this project unfold; third party financing is used quite often in western states, but has proven difficult to get off the ground in our region, so hopefully the block grant dollars will provide enough incentive to get the details worked out. We want this to be a transferrable model that will boost our local solar market.

Thanks for staying interested and if you have any thoughts or comments, please send an email or call.

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