University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service consultants and several city mayors have formed the Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council, a non-profit organization promoting renewable energy opportunities for rural economic development in Tennessee.
The Council represents local governments, farmers, energy and service providers, businesses, resource agencies and universities and aims to aggressively develop Tennessee’s abundant natural renewable resources. Goals of the Council are to spur sustainable economic development, address environmental concerns, diversify the state’s energy supply and provide long-term energy security to Tennessee.
According to Warren Nevad, UT’s Municipal Management Consultan, the initial focus of the Council will be on cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. “Though the Council will focus on biomass technologies, we want to consider all renewable energy technologies,” said Nevad. “The unique aspect about our organization is that it is made up of mostly mayors instead of industry professionals. Since many small rural communities in Tennesseee do not have the resources to recruit and market new developments in renewable energy, the Mayors represent the best and most efficient way to connect with their citizens.”
The University of Tennessee has partnered with Dupont Danisco to build a pilot 250,000 gallon cellulosic ethanol plant using corn stover and switchgrass grown within a 50 mile radius of the plant. Eventually, UT hopes to facilitate the commercialization of 1 billion gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production. A former city manager and now management consultant for 48 Tennessee cities, Nevad feels there are many opportunities to find a suitable match for cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel production.
“I’m also impressed with Wisconsin’s efforts in this area of renewable energy,” said Nevad. Currently, the Council is trying to bring in resources to develop a website and marketing plan “It’s a great opportunity for us to get the ball rolling in Tennessee,” said Nevad.
For more information on the Council’s work, visit the website.