Tennessee Valley Authority Promotes Electric Vehicles in Tennessee

Leaders from federal, state and local governments, the automotive industry and electric utilities met Wednesday in Tennessee – soon to host what is believed to be one of the nation’s largest electric vehicle charging networks – to discuss a national transition to electric transportation.

The Fuel Solutions Forum, sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority, addressed electricity as a transportation fuel, with an emphasis on education and strategy to help consumers, communities and industry achieve "plug-in readiness."

"The single best way to reduce our energy consumption and dependence on foreign sources of oil would be to electrify our cars and trucks," said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who delivered the morning keynote address. "Tennessee, with strong leadership by our governor, Nissan North America and TVA, has the opportunity to move the country a step closer to electrifying half our cars and trucks, which would reduce our dependence on oil by about a third and has strong bipartisan support in Congress."

Gov. Phil Bredesen said the TVA forum in Nashville shows the enthusiasm and teamwork contributing to a growing electric vehicle industry in Tennessee.

"With partners like the Tennessee Valley Authority, Nissan North America and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the state of Tennessee has rapidly emerged as a national leader in electric vehicle manufacturing, technology and deployment," Bredesen said. "We are committed to promoting the use of zero-emission electric vehicles to help ensure a clean energy future and to create more clean energy jobs in Tennessee."

Kim Greene, TVA group president for Strategy and External Relations, said TVA is leading efforts with several partners to develop advanced electric vehicle charging stations that are solar-assisted, fast-charging and able to store energy or send power to the TVA electric grid during high-demand periods.

The emissions reductions and technical innovations associated with electric vehicles align with the renewed vision announced by the TVA Board of Directors in August, Greene said. The vision emphasizes cleaner air through lower emissions, and electric vehicles can play a role.

"TVA is working to be one of the nation’s leading providers of cleaner and low-cost energy by 2020," Greene said. "An electric transportation system that is well designed and carefully integrated with the power system can help us achieve both."

A major focus for Wednesday’s forum was the plan for Tennessee to have one of the nation’s largest systems for this rapidly emerging technology by 2013. This is largely due to TVA’s key role in The EV Project, an approximately $230 million public-private initiative established last year with a $114.8 million grant from the Department of Energy, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project involves 16 cities in six states and the District of Columbia and is the largest electric vehicle rollout to date.

Under the EV Project, which is managed by ECOtality North America, the Nashville-Knoxville-Chattanooga corridor will serve as a national pilot for connecting three metropolitan areas with an electric vehicle charging network. The Tennessee project also will include infrastructure for 1,000 Nissan Leaf plug-in electric cars, more than 2,200 standard charging stations, 60 fast charging stations and 125 solar-assisted charging stations – more than any other area in the nation to date.

"The level of support, collaboration and enthusiasm we’ve seen from TVA, the state’s congressional and gubernatorial leadership and key stakeholders at every step of the planning process is proof positive that Tennessee is ready to step into the spotlight as a national leader in the rollout of electric transportation," said Jonathan Read, CEO and president of ECOtality. "As we begin installing the nation’s largest electric vehicle charging corridor in Tennessee, we’ll continue working closely with all our partners to leverage the lessons learned in Tennessee in communities throughout the United States."

TVA’s role includes investigating new electric metering and control technologies for electricity demand response and more efficient integration; analyzing charging station impacts on the power grid; and analyzing power system processes to achieve the most energy efficiency with electric vehicle charging systems.

TVA also leads a solar-assisted charging station project called the Smart Modal Area Recharge Terminal, or SMART station. The first prototype station, due this fall, will feature power generation by solar photovoltaic panels, stationary battery storage and key elements of smart grid technology at the Electric Power Research Institute facilities in Knoxville. EPRI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and local power companies are partners in the SMART station project.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia – an area of 80,000 square miles with a population of 9 million. TVA operates 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired power plants, three nuclear plants and 11 natural gas-fired power facilities and supplies up to 33,700 megawatts of electricity, delivered over 16,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. TVA also provides flood control, navigation, land management and recreation for the Tennessee River system and works with local utilities and state and local governments to promote economic development across the region. TVA, which makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money, is funded by sales of electricity to its customers. Electricity prices in TVA’s service territory are below the national average.