Front Porch Blog

Energy Efficiency Programs Survive the Government Shutdown

Despite the government shutdown, energy efficiency programs offered by federally-owned TVA and its partner utilities are helping businesses across the Southeast.

Despite the government shutdown, energy efficiency programs offered by federally-owned TVA and its partner utilities are helping businesses across the Southeast grow and thrive.

Although TVA is a government-owned electric utility, the ongoing government shutdown has not affected its operations. As a result, businesses across the Southeast are able to continue saving money and energy thanks to TVA’s Energy Right Solutions for Industry program.

For instance, on Oct. 8, TVA representatives and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant handed a $2 million check to steelmaker Severstal Columbus as a reward for reducing its energy consumption by nearly 26 million kilowatt-hours — approximately half of the plant’s total energy consumption — through investments in equipment upgrades.

“When we can offset building new buildings with energy efficiency, everyone wins because our fuel and purchase power goes down for all consumers in the valley,” TVA’s Energy Efficiency Director Cindy Herron said, describing the benefits of such investments. “This upgrade will help lower production costs and help Severstal stay competitive, in turn, helping the entire community.”

In May, Bridgestone Americas received a $350,000 rebate from TVA and Nashville Electric Services after the company invested in more efficient lighting systems at its tire plant in La Vergne, Tenn. The energy savings from the lighting improvements have saved the plant 3.8 million kilowatt-hours, equivalent to the energy required to power nearly 240 homes.

In addition to saving the company money on energy costs, the efficiency investments serve as part of Bridgestone’s broader commitment to reducing its environmental impact through energy efficiency.

“This rebate will be added to the Bridgestone Americas Environmental and Energy Strategic Fund, to be reinvested in more conservation projects, further improving our efficiency and environmental performance,” said Bridgestone’s Facilities Manager Muneer Chowdhury. Bob Balzar, TVA’s Vice President for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response, added that “Energy efficiency helps keep rates low, reduces costs associated with meeting consumer demand, conserves natural resources and produces zero emissions.”

These are just two examples of how energy efficiency programs are helping businesses in the Southeast reduce their costs and remain competitive while also reducing the environmental impacts of their business operations.

Unfortunately, the civil war in Syria, political infighting and now the government shutdown have stalled (and perhaps doomed) negotiations over the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which would have provided strong support for energy efficiency investments made by businesses and industries across the United States.

At a time when businesses are struggling to compete in a shaky economy, the government shutdown is causing even further uncertainty for American companies. Fortunately, some electricity providers including TVA provide strong support for energy efficiency throughout the Southeast.

Rory is an energy policy and finance wonk with over a decade of experience working on energy policy and planning in Appalachia. He joined Appalachian Voices in spring 2013 as Energy Policy Director to head up our Energy Savings for Appalachia program. His dog, Hobo, is our official Boone office mascot.


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