Promoting equitable access to clean energy in Tennessee

Smog once choked Chattanooga, Tennessee, but shifts to cleaner energy like solar and energy efficiency continue to improve the region’s air quality. (© iStock)

Ensuring broad access to clean energy creates big impact. Consider that disadvantaged households spend a disproportionately large share of their income on electricity, an average of 15 to 20 percent. This fall, in both Chattanooga and Nashville, SELC is capitalizing on opportunities to make the money-saving benefits of solar power and energy efficiency more accessible to consumers who need them most.

In Chattanooga, our energy experts are among the stakeholders guiding local participation in the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA), a two-year U.S. Department of Energy project. With this seat at the table, SELC is working with the city and its municipal electric utility to help low-income customers reduce power costs through access to solar power and energy efficiency upgrades. In 1969, Chattanooga was named the most polluted city in America, with smog and pollution choking the city. After much work and investment in projects like CELICA, Chattanooga has made considerable progress in environmental stewardship, but low-income residents still lack access to cost-saving efficiency measures that will help families pay bills and drive down air pollution even more.

In Middle Tennessee, Anne Davis, Managing Attorney for our Nashville office is making the case for equitable access to clean energy as a member of Mayor Megan Barry’s Livable Nashville Committee and its Climate and Energy Subcommittee. In this forum, Davis is advocating for the city and the Nashville Electric Service—the second largest power distributor in TVA’s system—to ramp up investment in distributed solar and energy efficiency resources and to make them available to customers struggling to pay their electric bills.

For more on how solar and energy efficiency benefit communities across the Southeast, watch our Stories of Solar videos and this short film from the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship on energy efficiency, Good Housekeeping.

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