Clean Energy Solutions

Tennessee State Energy Program

Energy Performance Contracting

Stimulating Energy Investments in Hard-to-Reach Public Sectors: Small Towns and Public Housing Authorities

In 2014, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Office of Energy Programs was awarded funding through the U.S. Department of Energy's Competitive State Energy Program to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in local jurisdictions, public school districts, and public housing authorities. CESI was selected as the primary consultant on this effort to provide outreach, education, technical assistance, and owner's agent services for organizations interested in financing energy improvement projects through grants, energy performance contracts, QECBs, 

CESI has reached over 60 jurisdictions and 30 housing authorities through this program. Of those, CESI has provided owner's agent services for four local governments, four public school districts, and one public housing authority. These services include conducting a preliminary technical assessment to identify energy savings opportunities, gathering facility and utility data to develop and issue Requests-for-Qualifications (RFQs), and assisting in the evaluation of vendor responses to ensure organizations choose the most qualified vendor. By the end of the grant period, January 2017, CESI expects to have provided extensive technical assistance to over 20 organizations in Tennessee, stimulating over $30M in energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.

Cleveland Housing Authority

CESI has had the opportunity to work with the housing authority of Cleveland, TN, a town just east of Chattanooga with a population of 42,774. The Cleveland Housing Authority serves over 430 families, including seniors and persons with disabilities. Their public housing portfolio consists of 432 units in 14 locations. In addition to their conventional public housing program, they also oversee a Housing Choice Voucher program that serves 204 families.

Paul Dellinger, Executive Director of the Cleveland Housing Authority, decided to solicit no-cost technical assistance from the Office of Energy Programs after attending a workshop in September 2014. His concern for occupant comfort in aging units, many of which still lack central air conditioning, and increasing utility bills that divert resources from other necessary services led Dellinger to consider an energy performance contract, which will increase occupant comfort and save money by reducing overall energy use.

The United Way of Bradley County recently received a $3.75M TVA Extreme Energy Makeover Grant, which will affect a subset of the housing authority’s 432 public housing units. Mr. Dellinger plans to leverage those grant dollars to complete more energy efficiency projects, and increase the value of the housing authority’s building portfolio.

CESI has facilitated a preliminary technical assessment of the housing authority’s properties, worked collaboratively with Mr. Dellinger to draft and issue an RFQ that incorporates TVA funding and meets the requirements of HUD, and assisted in the evaluation of vendor responses. 

Once complete, this project will be a valuable example of how a public housing authority may incorporate alternative funding sources into an energy savings performance contract that can be replicated not only in the State of Tennessee, but across the nation. 

City of KnoxvilLE

CESI is the owner’s agent for the City of Knoxville in the purchase and conversion of over 29,000 existing streetlights to LED. As the owner’s agent, CESI will review and provide feedback on financial analyses; provide technical and strategic advice to the City on issues relating to conversion strategy, ownership, and maintenance; conduct analyses of utility tariff proposals; assist with the procurement of a retrofit contract; and meet with stakeholders and utility representatives to coordinate project efforts. Once complete, this conversion is expected to save the City over $1.5 million annually. 

Local jurisdictions that convert to LED street lighting can save money through reduced energy and maintenance charges, increase light quality and safety for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists, contribute to their sustainability goals by reducing their carbon footprint, and demonstrate regional leadership through the adoption of an emerging technology. See our work on LED street lighting here.