Tennessee renewable energy and energy efficiency

Tennessee offers several incentive programs to encourage the adoption of renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency by individuals and businesses, which include grants, rebate and loan programs, tax incentives, and more.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Tennessee

Tennessee does not offer net metering and does not have standardized interconnection rules. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) offers a dual-metering option for participants in its Green Power Providers program1. Tennessee law allows for the creation of easements for the purpose of ensuring access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems2. However, there are currently no statewide community solar policies or programs. Also, the status of third-party solar power purchase agreements is unclear in Tennessee1.

Tennessee uses the 2009 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) for residential buildings and 2012 IECC for commercial buildings3. In 2009, Tennessee enacted legislation (S.B. 2300) that requires future office equipment, appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling products and systems purchased by and for the state agencies to be Energy Star qualified when available4.

The largest source of renewable energy in Tennessee is hydroelectric power, which provides more than 10% of the state's electricity generation. Biomass is the second-largest source of renewable energy, accounting for around 1% of the net generation in Tennessee. Wind power in Tennessee is in the early stage of development, providing less than 0.1% of the state's net generation with 29 MW installed capacity5. Tennessee has totally 429.38 MW installed solar power capacity for utility-scale and distributed solar power generation facilities, contributing 0.4% of the state's electricity generation6.

Tennessee's Renewable Portfolio Standard

Tennessee does not have a renewable energy portfolio standard or a voluntary renewable energy target.

Important renewable energy organizations in Tennessee

The Tennessee Public Utility Commission (TPUC) was established in 1996 to meet the challenge of the changing telecommunications and utility environment. It is responsible for setting the rates and service standards of private-owned telephone, natural gas, electric and water utilities7. There are currently four electric utilities under the jurisdiction of the TPUC, including Appalachian Power Company, Entergy Arkansas, LLC, Kentucky Utilities Company and Kingsport Power Company8. Organizationally, the TPUC consists of an Executive Director and five divisions, including Consumer Services, Gas Pipeline Safety, Information Technology, Legal and Utilities.

The Office of Energy Programs (OEP) is comprised of two sections, which are the Governor-designated State Energy Office (SEO) and the State Facility Utility Management Section (SFUM). Under these two sections, OEP has developed programs, such as Sustainable Transportation and Alternative Fuels, Clean Energy Financing, and Empower TN, to promote the efficient and effective use of energy to enhance the environmental and economic health of the state9.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a federal public power corporation that serves 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. In Tennessee, TVA operates 7 solar facilities 19 hydroelectric dams, 4 coal-fired power plants, 2 nuclear power plants, and 10 natural gas-fueled facilities, with a combined generating capacity of more than 20.399 MW. Together, TVA serves virtually all of the 95 counties in Tennessee10. TVA plays a significant role in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency by offering financial incentives, which include performance-based incentives (Green Power Providers), rebate programs (Energy Right Solutions for Business, e-Score Program), and loan programs (Energy Right Heat Pump Program)11.


  1. NREL. “Solar Research: Tennessee”. Accessed December 3, 2019
  2. DSIRE. “Solar Easements”. Accessed December 3, 2019
  3. DSIRE. “Building Energy Code”. Accessed December 3, 2019
  4. DSIRE. “Energy Star Procurement Requirement for Agencies”. Accessed December 3, 2019 Accessed December 3, 2019
  5. EIA. “Tennessee: State Profile and Energy Estimates”. Accessed December 3, 2019
  6. SEIA. “Tennessee Solar”. Accessed December 3, 2019
  7. TPUC. “History and Leadership”. Accessed December 10, 2019
  8. Tennessee State Government. “List of Electric, Gas, Waste Water, and Water Utilities”. Accessed December 10, 2019
  9. Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. “Office of Energy Programs”. Accessed December 10, 2019
  10. TVA. “TVA in Tennessee”. Accessed December 10, 2019
  11. DSIRE. “Programs in Tennessee”. Accessed December 10, 2019

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