State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



11.0Scored out of 50Updated 12/2022
State Government
Score: 2 out of 4.5
State Government Summary List All

The state offers a variety of financial incentives for energy efficiency. The state government leads by example by requiring energy-efficient buildings and fleets, benchmarking energy use in public buildings, and encouraging the use of energy savings performance contracts. The state has several major research centers focused on energy efficiency.

Financial Incentives List All

The state of Tennessee offers the following financial incentives to encourage energy efficiency improvements:

  • EmPower Tennessee Initiative: Through this initiative the state is working to reduce energy costs and consumption across state-owned and managed facilities by measuring and controlling energy use, investing in increasing energy efficiency and renewable power generation, and creating an operational environment of excellence. Of the state's approved $43 million budget for FY2016, over $37 million is dedicated to energy efficiency projects. The remainder will go to the procurement and implementation of a utility data management system and related energy management infrastructure.
  • Energy Efficient Schools Initiative - grants and loans: The Energy Efficient Schools Initiative (EESI) was created in 2008 with a $90 million, one-time distribution from excess lottery funds. The program was designed to make grants and loans from the original balance. Loan funds can be returned to the Education Lottery when the program ends. Funds are currently fueling energy savings upgrades in K-12 schools statewide. EESI is one of the only non-scholarship uses of Education Lottery Funds ever approved. None of EESI’s loans have ended in default. All administrative costs associated with the three-person EESI team are covered by low-interest loans and treasury fund balances.
  • Pathway Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Loan Program: Pathway Lending's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Loan Program (EELP), a low-interest revolving loan fund, launched in 2010 to assist Tennessee for-profit and not-for-profit commercial and industrial businesses in implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Pathway Lending, a US Treasury certified community development financial institution, oversees the $33 million revolving loan fund. Eligible projects under EELP include, but are not limited to: energy efficient equipment upgrades; lighting; building envelope retrofits; cool roofs; renewable energy installations; and co-generation.
  • Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust: School Bus Replacement Grant Program, Transit and Shuttle Bus Grant Program, Medium and Large Trucks Grant Program, Light Duty Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment
  • Home Uplift: In 2021, TDEC OEP provided grants totaling $3 million to local power companies (EPB, KUB, MLGW, & NES) to extend the reach of their Home Uplift Programs. This funding is being used to cover the costs of energy efficiency and weatherization measures for limited income homeowners that are customers in their respective service areas.

Further financial incentive information can be found in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Tennessee). In addition to these state-funded incentives, Tennessee has enabled commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing but does not yet have any active programs. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation.

Last Reviewed: August 2022

Equity Metrics and Workforce DevelopmentList All

Community and stakeholder engagement

TDEC OEP has created several resources and/or funded programs designed to bring energy efficiency opportunities to low-income communities across the state. The office has  updated its Low-Income Energy Efficiency Funding Matrix for 2021. The Matrix is a tool intended to connect low-income homeowners, affordable housing owners and operators, and technical assistance providers with information on existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programming that can help fund or finance energy improvements (e.g., lighting upgrades; weatherization; insulation; window replacement; HVAC and other essential building upgrades; etc.) for residential, multifamily, and commercial audiences. This Matrix was published on OEP’s Energy Resources website and was shared with the TDEC Office of External Affairs and other external partners, who circulated the resources with low-income and marginalized communities across the state.

TDEC OEP is planning to create an Energy Affordability web resource and information hub by the end of 2021. This site will detail funding/financing program opportunities, no-to-low cost energy savings tips, and other information on low-income energy efficiency and energy conservation programming (e.g., residential energy upgrades, weatherization, efficient appliances, etc.). The office will work with the TDEC Office of External Affairs and other community partners to circulate the resources and provide increased awareness of these energy improvement opportunities.

TDEC OEP and OPSP also convened the Single- and Multi-family Low-Income Energy Efficiency Exchange Group (the “Exchange Group”) in December 2015 and met regularly through the end of 2017. The Exchange Group was comprised of a number of State and local agencies, utilities, and non-governmental entities, such as the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), the Department of Economic and Community Development, Metro Nashville Government, TVA, Pathway Lending, and Memphis Light, Gas, and Water. The Exchange Group sought to share best practices regarding single and multifamily low-income energy efficiency exchange programming efforts in Tennessee; to leverage existing technical and financial resources to further design, implementation, and administration of energy efficiency programming targeting low-income single and multifamily audiences; and to explore opportunities to develop resources that can assist with implementation of energy efficiency programming targeting low-income single and multifamily stakeholders. The Exchange Group’s efforts are reflected in the Single & Multifamily Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program Resource Manual—a work product housed on TDEC’s website. Specifically, the Resource Manual provides a framework for designing, implementing, and evaluating key elements of low-income focused EE programming and is accompanied by extensive resource annotations and an online asset map. The resource matrix, which was included within the Resource Manual as an appendix and which outlines single and multifamily low-income energy efficiency funding opportunities, was updated in 2021.

Clean energy workforce development

Tennessee does not have a statewide energy plan or strategy. However, TDEC OEP has engaged in initiatives that support and prioritize clean energy workforce development.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development provides several workforce development opportunities, including opportunities addressing energy, under partnerships with Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, Community Colleges, and other training institutions in Tennessee.

In 2022, TDEC OEP committed $2 million in grant funding for EV-related workforce development activities to support the development of Ford’s Blue Oval City in Stanton, Tennessee.

Several Tennessee entities also provide workforce development programs with an environmental or clean energy focus. For example, Knoxville’s Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development Program (SEEED) is a green community development non-profit focusing on creating and sustaining jobs for the city’s urban young people, as well as ensuring clean energy technologies are available for low-income residents. SEEED creates pathways out of poverty for young adults through clean energy career readiness training, while equipping communities with environmental literacy skills.

Chattanooga's green|spaces hosts the Build it Green (BIG) program. BIG prepares young adults with untapped potential for careers in construction & energy service through a 4 month to 1 year leadership and workforce development program. Through a partnership with Build Me a World and AmeriCorps Opportunity Youth Service Initiative, BIG aims to generate pathways out of poverty for young adults through job readiness training, community organizing and outreach training, and technical training in the green building field. Affordability of utilities is one of the greatest challenges to low-income neighborhoods in Chattanooga. This program brings solutions to issues of energy efficiency in low-income areas as well as a pipeline for employment into the green economy. BIG utilizes a unique blend of community outreach, personal development, and technical training to create workforce ready young adults.

Other programs, LIHEAP, and WAP

THDA offers a Low-Income Housing Credit (LIHC) against federal income tax liability for owners and investors in low-income rental housing. The amount of tax credits is based on reasonable costs of development, as determined by THDA, and the number of qualified low-income units. Tax credits are awarded through both competitive and non-competitive processes. THDA’s Low Income Housing Credit 2021 Qualified Allocation Plan includes a number of energy efficiency related requirements under Section 12 (Threshold and Minimum Construction and Rehabilitation Requirements). By Q3 2020 (the latest data publicly available), $9,259,916 in LIHC was reserved/allocated between both competitive and non-competitive applications; by the end of the year, 12,648 units were under construction at 112 properties. THDA continued to update its LIHC interactive map that displays properties assisted through the program since 1989.

THDA also administers Tennessee’s Weatherization Assistance Program. The WAP program is designed to assist low-income households in reducing their fuel costs while contributing to national energy conservation through increased energy efficiency and consumer education. Households that include young children, elderly, or disabled members are given priority for service. By Q3 2020, THDA allocated $9,695,185 to eligible candidates under the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Finally, THDA administers Tennessee’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program aims to assist low income households, primarily those who pay a high proportion of household income on home energy, in meeting their immediate energy needs (including through weatherization outside the Weatherization Assistance Program). In Tennessee, LIHEAP is administered through a network of 19 local agencies that reach all 95 counties. By Q3 of calendar year 2020, THDA allocated $214,590,142 to eligible candidates under LIHEAP, $10,061,456 of which was committed specifically to low-income weatherization projects under the program.

Last Reviewed: July 2021

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

The State of Tennessee does not yet have carbon pricing policies in place.

At this time, the state does not have a statewide emissions reduction goal in place.

Last Reviewed: September 2022

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Public Building Requirements List All

To maximize utility savings opportunities for State facilities, the State building energy management statutory responsibilities for State-owned and managed properties (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 4-3-1012 and 4-3-1017-1019) were transferred from the Department of General Services (DGS) to TDEC OEP via Executive Order No. 63 on January 1, 2017. A new section, State Facility Utility Management (SFUM), was formed under OEP. SFUM strives to provide actionable utility insights to State facilities, enabling them to make informed decisions that optimize their facility energy consumption as well as their associated utility savings. To support this goal, SFUM administers several utility savings and building energy management initiatives, including the following:

  • Development and maintenance of an online Utility Data Management (UDM) platform for approximately 8,000 State-owned and managed facilities.
  • Oversight of energy efficiency projects under the EmPower TN initiative, designed to reduce energy consumption and utility costs for participating State facilities through the implementation of energy efficient technologies and/or energy management systems.
  • Provision of no-cost technical assistance to State agencies and public higher education facilities to promote the implementation of energy management, energy efficiency, and/or renewable energy projects that meet the needs, budgets, and priorities of participating entities.

The UDM platform is a uniform repository for utility costs and usage for approximately 8,800 State-owned and managed facilities (~109 million square feet) with integrated bill payment, utility tracking, and benchmarking capabilities. The platform provides a means for end-users—such as fiscal personnel, SFUM team members, State facility and utility managers, sustainability professionals, and technical assistance providers—to gain actionable insights into utility data. In early CY 2019, the SFUM team completed the three-year UDM project development, configuration, and implementation phase for all 78 General Government agencies and Higher Education campuses. Historical data was uploaded, and ongoing data feeds established for all known and active State utility accounts (~8,900) and meters (~10,700). 890 end-users across General Government and Higher Education have been granted access to the UDM platform.

Since that time, the SFUM team has tracked utility cost and consumption at State-owned and managed facilities through the UDM system. Additionally, all EmPower TN energy efficiency project savings are measured and verified. For certain projects, the SFUM team is working with TVA and one of TVA’s contractors to determine energy usage baselines and create detailed energy surveys (DES). Each DES is specific to the individual project and energy conservation measure. Baseline physical conditions (energy consumption, control strategies, equipment inventory and conditions, occupancy, nameplate data, etc.) are identified through inspections, short-term metering activities, spot measurements, and surveys. The baseline conditions will be used to determine estimated savings by comparing the baseline energy use to the post-installation energy use.

Currently, the State of Tennessee is able to benchmark 100% of its approximately 109 million square feet of State-owned and managed facilities by primary use type, square footage, postal code, utility provider, commodity, and location.

High Performance Building Requirements (HPBr)

The Tennessee High Performance Building Requirements (HPBr), developed by the Office of the State Architect and DGS, reflect a system of design and construction requirements that intend to reduce total cost of ownership, improve project value, and increase the performance and sustainability of Tennessee’s portfolio of State buildings. The HPBr provides a consistent approach to new construction and renovation that reflects industry best practices. The HPBr includes review of an energy model as well as system commissioning through design and construction to ensure that energy systems function optimally as designed. In addition to the energy modeling, HPBr asserts that construction and renovation efforts must utilize sustainable materials and actively recycle on each job site.

The HPBr necessitate compliance with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 for all State facilities and higher education campuses. They also contain a checklist to encourage energy performance above ASHRAE 90.1-2010, including total building performance, lighting power levels, daylight harvesting, vacancy sensors, and high efficiency HVAC. In accordance with TCA §12-3-905, the HPBr mandate the purchase and installation of ENERGY STAR equipment for all ENERGY STAR eligible equipment types. Finally, the HPBr dictate that data centers with cooling systems be sub-metered downstream of the Uninterruptible Power Supply, a requirement for achieving an ENERGY STAR rating.

The State's HPBr only apply to State owned- and managed facilities, including higher education campuses. However, municipal and county governments have implemented requirements and programs for their own public buildings, including the following:

  • Chattanooga: As a U.S. DOE Better Buildings Challenge partner, the City of Chattanooga has improved its cumulative municipal buildings’ energy performance by 40% from a 2013 baseline, far exceeding its goal of 20% improvement by 2025 (based on a commitment of 2 million square feet of its municipal building portfolio). This was achieved through a variety of building energy policies and upgrades, including building retro-commissioning, the adoption of ENERGY STAR appliances and utilities, participation in the local power company’s demand response program, an upgrade to LEDs, and more.
  • Knoxville: As a U.S. DOE Better Buildings Challenge Partner, the City of Knoxville has improved its cumulative municipal buildings’ energy performance by 26% from a 2010 baseline, successfully achieving and exceeding its goal of 20% improvement by 2022 (based on a commitment of 2.06 million square feet of its municipal building portfolio).
  • Nashville: On June 5th, 2019, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County approved new legislation requiring buildings owned by Metro Government to meet new green building standards. This included the development of a strategic energy management plan, to include timelines and cost estimates for implementing an energy retrofit program across at least 9% of Metro Government-owned buildings by square footage between 2021 and 2024, prioritizing buildings that have core systems and equipment nearing the end of their useful lives, with a goal of achieving at least 20% reductions in average energy and greenhouse gas emissions; and A LEED® Zero retrofit program across at least 12.5% of Metro Government-owned buildings by square footage between 2026 and 2032. Renewable energy certificates (“RECs”) may be used as part of this retrofit program. Twelve Metro Nashville General Services buildings have rooftop solar panels. This adds up to 2,062 solar panels generating approx. 870,000 kWh annually. The lifetime solar generation for all General Services PV installations from 2010-Feb 2021 is 2,325,732 kWh. Additionally, Metro Nashville has an ordinance in place that requires all new and renovated Metro buildings over 5,000 square feet to achieve LEED® Silver or a greater level of LEED certification. As part of that requirement, facilities are designed to reduce annual energy cost compared to a code minimum standard by at least 10%.

Last Reviewed: August 2022

Fleets List All

Tennessee Code Annotated §4-3-1109 (Energy Efficient State Vehicles) establishes the goal that 100% of newly purchased passenger vehicles be energy-efficient vehicles or alternative fuel motor vehicles. An energy-efficient motor vehicle is defined as a passenger motor vehicle that is:

  • An alternate fuel vehicle as defined by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-486);
  • A flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) utilizing ethanol, biodiesel, or any other commercially available alternative fuel approved by the United States Department of Energy;
  • A hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV);
  • A compact fuel-efficient vehicle, defined as a vehicle powered by unleaded gasoline that has a United States EPA estimated highway gasoline mileage rating of at least twenty-five miles per gallon (25 mpg) or greater for the model year purchased;
  • An electric vehicle (EV);
  • A vehicle powered by natural gas; or
  • A vehicle powered by ultra- low sulfur diesel fuel that meets Bin 5, Tier II emission standards mandated by the EPA and that has an EPA estimated highway mileage rating of at least thirty miles per gallon (30 mpg) or greater for the model year purchased.

As of June 30, 2022, the State owned 1,444 energy-efficient passenger motor vehicles, including 1,266 FFVs, 4 HEVs, 4 EVs, and 170 energy-efficient vehicles with an average highway fuel economy of at least 25 MPG. Included in these totals are 36 passenger vehicles that were purchased during State Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022), all of which were energy efficient. The State met its target goal of purchasing 100% energy-efficient passenger vehicles in FY2022.

Furthermore, as most vehicle manufacturers are reducing their number of FFV offerings and are instead focusing on the release of new EV models, the Tennessee Department of General Services Division of Motor Vehicle Management is developing a state-wide EV implementation plan. This plan will examine infrastructure and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) offerings to prepare for the vehicle industry changes that are underway.

Tennessee statute also requires that 25% of newly purchased passenger motor vehicles procured for use in areas designated by the EPA as nonattainment areas shall be hybrid-electric vehicles or vehicles powered by natural gas, provided that such vehicles and fueling infrastructure are available at the time of procurement and such vehicles are purchased at competitive prices. In the event that such vehicles or fueling infrastructure are not available at the time of procurement, the State may instead meet this mandate by procuring compact fuel-efficient vehicles.

In areas that are not designated by the EPA as nonattainment areas, the State shall ensure that at least 25% of newly purchased passenger motor vehicles are hybrid-electric vehicles, vehicles powered by natural gas, or compact fuel-efficient vehicles, provided that such vehicles are purchased at competitive prices. As of May 31, 2022, the only area designated by the EPA as nonattainment in Tennessee is Sullivan County (Sullivan County does not meet the 2010 Sulfur Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard).

The State does not currently have electrification requirements for the State vehicle fleet. However, the State does currently own 4 EVs and in FY2021-2022, the State placed an order for an additional 15 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning trucks, which will be utilized within the Tennessee State Parks vehicle fleet.

Additionally, as part of a five-year alternative fuel fleet strategy, TDEC’s Tennessee State Parks system will aim to replace 50% of prioritized, identified “Electric Candidate Vehicles” leaving service with commercially available EVs by June 30, 2024, and 100% of “Electric Candidate Vehicles” by June 30, 2027.

Last Reviewed: August 2022

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

The State of Tennessee does not track public sector performance contract projects. However, TDEC OEP is aware of at least eight performance contracts which have either been contracted for construction or completed within the last five years, including: The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Bradley County Schools, Cleveland Housing Authority, the City of Knoxville, Montgomery County, Williamson County Government, Williamson County Schools, and the City of Paris.

Additionally, the State of Tennessee has completed 32 projects through two separate contract efforts, with projected annual energy cost savings amounting to almost $10 million. The Tennessee Board of Regents, which is the Supervisory Board for State universities outside of the University of Tennessee system, community colleges, and vocational-technical schools, has completed 17 ESPC projects since 2004, totaling $54 million in investment. The annual projected savings for these projects was $6.8 million.

In May 2018, the Tennessee legislature passed legislation acknowledging that State procurement agencies may enter into performance contracts for energy savings for State-owned buildings and facilities through alternative procurement or contracting vehicles. The legislation also encourages up to five pilot projects. This bill amended TCA Title 4 and Title 12.

Also in May 2018, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis signed a contract for a $5.5 million ESPC project. This is the first phase of a planned $30 million project to overhaul the campus’ energy and plant equipment. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2019. Additionally, in March 2018, Williamson County initiated a multi-phase ESPC project for upgrades to their county buildings and facilities. In January 2019, Williamson County signed the first phase of the contract ($18M) to begin construction, which it is anticipated to be completed in early 2020.

Last Reviewed: July 2020

Research & Development List All

Tennessee’s energy efficiency research and development field comprises a variety of contributors, including several higher education institutions as well as a national laboratory. More information on these efforts follows.

The University of Tennessee - Knoxville (UT-Knoxville)

UT-Knoxville has a strong partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which collaborates with other state stakeholders and industry members, including the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), on energy research. The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) also promotes the commercialization and deployment of advanced technologies, some of which are related to energy efficiency.

UT-Knoxville hosts several educational energy exhibits and infrastructure projects on its campus and various properties, serving as student and faculty tools for both public outreach and academic research. In December 2018, State and local leaders gathered to celebrate the opening of the I-40 Solar Farm Information and Welcome Center in Haywood County. On display is an interactive exhibit designed by UT-Knoxville, SPECTRUM, which highlights advancements in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The facility, designed by Memphis firm ANF Architect and funded by TDEC OEP, also features a nearly 360-degree view of the surrounding 5 MW, 25-acre West Tennessee Solar Farm, which surrounds the building.

Additionally, a solar array installed in April 2015 on a UT-Knoxville parking garage has proven to make the campus more energy efficient and continually serves as a research tool for students seeking to develop and study next generation renewable energy technologies. Research on this array and the efficiency impacts of on-campus power generation will continue for at least the next few years.

The Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center, led by UT-Knoxville, which is jointly supported by the National Science Foundation and U.S. DOE. Partner higher education institutions include Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Tuskegee University. CURENT's research focuses on improvement in grid transmission efficiency, better accommodation of renewable energy sources, full utilization of energy storage, and accommodation of responsive load. CURENT’s main project is to contribute to a nationwide transmission grid vision that will be fully monitored and dynamically controlled in real-time for high efficiency, high reliability, low cost, better accommodation of renewable energy sources, full utilization of energy storage, and accommodation of responsive load. CURENT partners, including the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, ORNL, National Instruments, EPRI, TVA, and Green Energy Corp, will work to assist in project implementation and eventual commercialization.

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) is a public-private partnership led by UT-Knoxville that focuses on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites, which combine strong fibers with tough plastics to cost-effectively manufacture materials that are lighter and stronger than steel. IACMI is supported by a $70 million commitment from DOE and a $189 million commitment from IACMI's partners (including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and more). IACMI has also received a $15 million commitment from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development as part of an effort to facilitate local breakthroughs in energy-efficient manufacturing and materials. Established by UTRF as a Tennessee-based nonprofit 501(c)(3), IACMI houses more than 170 members and continues to overcome barriers to the use of advanced composites through the development of low-cost, high-speed, and energy-efficient manufacturing and recycling processes. Through this work, IACMI will focus on lowering the production cost of advanced composites by 25%, reducing the energy used to make composites by 50%, and increasing the recyclability of composites to over 80% within 10 years.

Of IACMI’s 55 active research and development projects, 9 have been completed, 15 are in process, and 31 are in review. See a full list of IACMI’s energy efficiency projects at

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) 

As a U.S. DOE National Laboratory, ORNL applies expertise in advanced materials, supercomputing, neutrons, and nuclear science to national priorities in energy, security, and scientific discovery. ORNL’s research community works with many of the country’s best innovators and businesses to research, develop, and demonstrate cutting-edge technologies and to break down market barriers in sustainable transportation, renewable power, and energy efficiency. ORNL views the acceleration of widespread clean energy innovation as necessary to providing affordable and reliable energy, promoting economic growth, and supporting energy security.

ORNL’s DOE-designated National User Facilities provide locations for collaborative research and development on energy efficient technologies and include: the Buildings Technologies Research and Integration Center; the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility; the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility; and the National Transportation Research Center. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle.

Research highlights in the aforementioned areas include: 

  • Researching low-global warming potential alternative refrigerants.
  • Driving innovation and efficiency in home appliances.
  • Transferring materials science to the building envelope space.
  • Developing low-cost, efficiently produced carbon fiber.
  • Developing new, efficiently produced materials and alloys for U.S. manufacturing.
  • Accelerating the electrification of transportation.
  • Developing lightweight, domestically sourced, and efficiently produced materials for future vehicles.

Tennessee Technological University (TTU) 

The Center for Manufacturing Research at TTU focuses on advanced manufacturing and materials for energy storage and conversion. The Center conducts energy assessments as part of its DOE-funded Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), which has been active since 2006. Through the IAC, engineering professors and students perform onsite energy assessments on industrial sites to locate and recommend energy efficiency opportunities. In 2018, the IAC was recognized as a Center of Excellence by U.S. DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office for its outstanding performance, having completed 220 assessments and identified $26.99 million in stakeholder cost savings throughout its life.

TTU also houses a Center for Energy Systems Research (CESR), established to advance energy system design, efficiency, and resilience. Read more about its energy efficiency activities here.

University of Memphis 

The University of Memphis houses a second TN-based, U.S. DOE-funded IAC, which provides no-cost studies of manufacturing plants across West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and Eastern Arkansas. Engineering and Technology students perform studies analyzing a plant’s energy, waste, and productivity issues. In addition, the IAC provides an educational opportunity to engineering students through on-site plant visits, data analysis, and technical report writing. On average, recommended actions from an assessment result in annual cost savings of $55,000.

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) 

MTSU houses a Center for Energy Efficiency, which provides both an organized approach to campus-wide efficiency projects as well as educational opportunities for students and the professional community. Focusing on its “Three Cs”—Campus, Classroom, and Community—the Center supervises building retrofits, energy management projects, infrastructure upgrades, etc.; offers cooperative internship opportunities and job placement for students in energy efficiency fields; and provides educational/energy certification seminars, training opportunities, and leadership resources.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is currently researching several energy topics supported by funding awards from the National Science Foundation and U.S. DOE, totaling around $3 million. Learn more about the University’s efforts here.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Score: 2.5 out of 12
Buildings Summary List All

Since Tennessee is a home rule state, codes are adopted and enforced at the jurisdictional level. In August 2019, the state adopted the 2018 IRC and the 2018 IECC codes with amendments for residential construction. This change went into effect on July 16, 2020. Commercial and state-owned buildings must comply with the 2012 IECC. Tennessee has hosted code training sessions.

Residential Codes List All

State building codes adoption and enforcement efforts fall under the purview of the State Fire Marshal’s Office within the Department of Commerce and Insurance (C&I). Any changes to building energy code must comply with the State’s rule-making procedures. On August 27, 2019, C&I conducted a rulemaking hearing to adopt the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) and the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) with weakening amendments for residential one and two family dwellings and townhouses. The rule adopts the 2015 IRC seismic design categories (seismic map) instead of the 2018 seismic design categories (seismic map), and retains the 2009 IRC and IECC requirements for Testing, Duct Testing and Air Leakage, Insulation and Fenestration Requirements. The rule removes the requirement that the permit be purchased in the jurisdiction where the work will be performed, and the rule also allows a local government to request a building standard less stringent than the state standard adopted by a different jurisdiction. The permanent rules were filed with the Secretary of State on April 21, 2020 and are expected to go into effect on July 16, 2020. See the Rulemaking Hearing Rule(s) Filing Form (the amendments can be found on page 2 and 3) and the EERE Building Energy Codes Program page for additional information.

However, because Tennessee is a “home rule” State, significant variation exists in codes adoption and enforcement at the local level. Under Tennessee statute, all local jurisdictions must adopt a residential energy code that is within seven years of the most recently published energy code. All local jurisdictions may also opt out of residential building energy code adoption with a two-thirds majority vote of the local governing body. In addition, local jurisdictions cannot be required to adopt a local code that is more stringent than the one adopted by the State, but they may voluntarily choose to adopt an updated code version. If opting out, the vote must be completed after each local election cycle. As of May 2019, 92 jurisdictions have opted in to the state residential building code (apply the statewide building code to their jurisdiction and utilize the state’s building permit system and building inspectors), 80 jurisdictions have opted out (building codes are not recognized nor enforced), and 264 jurisdictions are exempt (building codes are adopted locally, meeting or exceeding the statewide standard; exempt jurisdictions hire their own inspectors and all paperwork is administered locally and audited on a 3 year cycle). More recently, C&I reports that as of June 2020, 165 local jurisdictions have adopted building energy codes that exceed the 2009 IECC adopted by the State. Of those, 34 local jurisdictions have already adopted the 2018 Residential IECC, and 21 have adopted the 2015 IECC.

Moreover, a large majority of Tennessee's construction activity occurs in the greater areas of Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville, all of which have building codes which meet or exceed the State's minimum building code. As of May 2019, roughly 770,000 Tennessee residents live in jurisdictions with “opt-out” status. Subtracting this number from Tennessee’s total population (6,829,000), an estimated 6,059,000 residents—89% of the state’s population—live in jurisdictions with building code adoption.

The State began implementation and enforcement of adopted energy codes for new building projects in July 2011. The State Fire Marshal’s Office requires a State building permit for new residential construction in areas of the State, except those where an exempt local government is enforcing a residential building code itself or where the local government has notified the Department it has opted out of the law. Building construction projects subject to code enforcement by the State Fire Marshal’s Office are required to obtain a State building code permit prior to commencing construction. The Department verifies contractors' licensure as part of the permitting process.

Given the recent update to the 2018 IRC and IECC residential energy codes, there are currently no jurisdictions that have adopted building energy codes that exceed the codes adopted by the State. It is expected that certain jurisdictions with near-term clean energy and carbon reduction goals will adopt the 2021 IRC and IECC for residential properties within the next few years.

A listing of the State’s currently adopted codes and codes history is available here:

Last Reviewed: May 2022

Commercial Code List All

State building codes adoption and enforcement efforts fall under the purview of the State Fire Marshal’s Office within the Department of Commerce and Insurance (C&I). Any changes to building energy code must comply with the state’s rule-making procedures. On August 19, 2015, C&I conducted a rulemaking hearing to adopt the 2012 IECC for commercial and state-owned buildings. The permanent rules were filed with the Secretary of State on May 6, 2016 and went into effect on August 4, 2016. For certain types of commercial facilities—specifically Moderate-hazard factory industrial, Group F-1; Low-hazard factory industrial, Group F-2; Moderate-hazard storage, Group S-1; and Low-hazard storage, Group S-2 buildings—2006 IECC applies in lieu of 2012 IECC under these rules. See for additional information. 

As is noted above, because Tennessee is a “home rule” State, significant variation exists in codes adoption and enforcement at the local level. Local jurisdictions cannot be required to adopt a local code that is more stringent than the one adopted by the State, but they may voluntarily choose to adopt an updated code version. C&I does not maintain a list of local commercial building code adoptions.

The State began implementation and enforcement of adopted energy codes for new building projects in July 2011. The State Fire Marshal’s Office requires a State building permit for new residential and certain commercial construction in areas of the State, except those where an exempt local government is enforcing a residential or commercial building code itself or where the local government has notified the Department it has opted out of the law. Building construction projects subject to code enforcement by the State Fire Marshal’s Office are required to obtain a State building code permit prior to commencing construction. The Department verifies contractors' licensure as part of the permitting process.  

Last Reviewed: May 2022


Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan:  The Tennessee (TDEC) Office of Energy Programs, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, and the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy) are currently engaged in a residential energy code compliance baseline field study. The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and its partner, Southface, are leading the initiative, which is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy award to SEEA.  This study will focus on a sample of single-family homes in the two climate zones in Tennessee and will identify the residential building energy code sections for which the State may wish to consider conducting additional education, outreach, and/or training.  The kickoff meeting was held in March 2017, and the study is expected to be completed in FY2018.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: Under state regulations, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is granted authority to audit local exempt jurisdictions every three years, in order to check that they are enforcing codes correctly. The State Fire Marshal’s Office audits exempt jurisdictions to verify code compliance and inspector certifications. This is an ongoing task and not a comprehensive audit of all jurisdictions at the same time. Approximately 90 jurisdictions are audited each year.

    Additionally, the State of Tennessee — through OEP, C&I, and the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy — participated in a residential energy code compliance baseline field study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and conducted by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and Southface. This study focused on a sample of single-family homes in Tennessee’s two climate zones and will identify the residential building energy code sections for which the State may wish to consider conducting additional education, outreach, and/or training. Data was collected from 15 counties spread out across Tennessee, with Davidson County having the highest number of homes tested (27 homes) and Sevier County having the fewest number of homes tested (2 homes). More than 2,300 different data points were collected across the 138 different homes used in the study. The study was conducted in 2018 and a preliminary draft report was issued in February 2019. The final project report was published in April 2021. The report and its findings can be found at this link:

  • Utility Involvement: The State Fire Marshal’s Office has not established utility commission regulatory guidelines. The Tennessee Public Utility Commissioner (formerly Tennessee Regulatory Authority) does not regulate the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the federally-owned corporation that provides electricity to approximately 99.7% of the electricity service territory in Tennessee.)

  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: Over the course of 2019, the State Fire Marshal’s Office held several stakeholder meetings to seek input on the proposed adoption of the 2018 IRC. Additionally, the State Fire Marshal’s Office has met with the Southeastern Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) several times over the past several years to discuss building energy codes and enforcement. SEEA has offered to provide assistance and advice for adopting new codes and to influence energy code stakeholders. There is no established timetable for meetings. They are convened on an as-needed basis.
  • Training/Outreach: 
    • In addition to adoption and enforcement of building energy codes, C&I provides training and continuing professional education courses to codes inspectors across the state through the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy (TFSCEA). In 2013, TDEC OEP provided $195,000 in grant funding to C&I to develop a 2012 IECC training program for inspectors. OEP also provided C&I the opportunity to participate in 2012 IECC “train-the-trainer” courses administered by Southface Energy Institute. The grant funding allowed C&I to purchase equipment and gain the knowledge necessary to provide training to codes inspectors across the state.

      Following the grant period in 2013, C&I offered several free training opportunities to codes inspectors in all regions of the state. Classes were hosted at the TFSCEA campus in Bell Buckle as well as offered in jurisdictions throughout Tennessee. Stephen Snow, TFSCEA Codes Enforcement Program Director, noted that the training program was extremely successful in its initial outreach. He indicated that requests for the training slowed for some years once jurisdictions decided to adopt or not adopt the 2012 codes. However, he also stated that the State requirement for jurisdictions to adopt an edition of the IECC that is always within seven years of the latest printed edition has spurred jurisdictions to once again explore which viable edition they will adopt. 

      For example, the town of Cookeville requested in early 2016 that TFSCEA come and provide training to approximately 40 of its local contractors for the sole purpose of learning IECC requirements. In February 2016, the East TN Building Officials Association asked TFSCEA to hold IECC training for approximately 130 inspectors and building officials in their region to help their inspectors understand and implement IECC testing requirements. As interest in IECC adoption and enforcement increases, TFSCEA will create more IECC courses throughout the state to move out of “introductory” training and into more “topic-specific” training.

      TFSCEA and the State Fire Marshal’s Office have also been exploring implementation of a comprehensive program to incorporate “distance learning,” which will change the way all Academy training, including IECC courses, will be offered. This online training will reach more individuals and small groups of officials within jurisdictions whose strict budgets have traditionally precluded travel to the TFSCEA campus. While more jurisdictions have adopted the 2012 IECC through the support of Academy IECC training, new inspectors joining these departments will be more easily trained in the use of the code through online course delivery. All students will still have access to the resources the Academy can provide to support their training. TFSCEA and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are optimistic about the benefit this new medium will bring to inspectors and will have a variety of online presentation methods and testing options to ensure that students of TFSCEA distance learning are properly equipped to enforce the most current and viable editions of the IECC. Although TFSCEA has begun to offer several of its courses through this “distance learning” medium, the Academy does not currently offer IECC training through an online portal.

Last Reviewed: May 2022


CHP Summary List All

The state offers financing assistance for some CHP projects and has identified CHP as a resource to improve energy system resilience. Two new CHP systems came online in Tennessee in 2018.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Tennessee Interconnection orders

Description: On January 5, 2007, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) issued orders in dockets 06-00182 and 06-00183 stating that Entergy and Kentucky Utilities had already implemented standards 11 (net metering), 14 (time-based metering), and 15 (interconnection) as described by PURPA 2005, prior to August 8, 2005 and further consideration of those standards by TRA was not required (i.e., declining to make any changes in the existing standards).

In August 2007, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) adopted a modified version of PURPA 2005: "TVA shall make available, upon request, interconnection service, for generators with output of 20 MW or less, to any electric consumer that it serves." As part of its decision, TVA is allowing the distribution utilities that operate in its territory the flexibility to create their own interconnection procedures that are similar to TVA's.

TVA also offers the Dispersed Power Production Program, under which a facility that generates small amounts of power (typically less than 80 MW), including CHP systems, may qualify to connect to TVA power lines. Once connected, a qualifying facility can either use its power for itself and sell any extra to TVA at TVA's avoided costs, or it can sell all of its power to TVA at TVA's avoided costs.

Last Updated: July 2019

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

There are currently no state policies designed to acquire energy savings from CHP (like other efficiency resources) or energy generation from CHP (in terms of kWh production) that apply to all forms of CHP.

Last Updated: July 2018

Deployment IncentivesList All

Tennessee has several policies and programs in place that can incentivize CHP deployment in addition to other technologies and resources.

In 2015, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) issued a request for proposals to industrial customers in the TVA-service area to provide technical guidance and financial assistance towards the capital costs of waste heat recovery and/or CHP projects. The objective is to provide up to $7 Million to establish at least 5 MW of customer-owned generation from waste heat recovery and CHP. TVA awarded $6.75 Million to Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, TN to build a 6 MW CHP facility, which is under construction. 

In 2016, TVA announced it was awarding $6.75 million toward Erlanger Health System's new 8MW onsite CHP facility in Chattanooga, TN. The system became operational in late 2018 and is providing electricity, steam, and chilled water to the hospital campus. TVA and The Chemours Company also announced in January 2015 that they would convert a limited-use combustion turbine at TVA Johnsonville into a highly efficient CHP plant while continuing to provide steam to Chemours, which came online in 2018 with a capacity of 87 MW.

The Pathway Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Loan Program (EELP), a low-interest revolving loan fund, launched in 2010 to assist Tennessee for-profit and not-for-profit commercial and industrial businesses in implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. In January 2016, EELP was expanded to offer financing to local government entities, including municipalities, counties, school districts, and other public agencies. Pathway Lending, a US Treasury certified community development financial institution, oversees the $33 million revolving loan fund, which is comprised of loan capital provided by the State / the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs (TDEC OEP) ($14 million), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) ($14 million), and Pathway Lending ($5 million). Eligible projects under EELP include, but are not limited to: energy efficient equipment upgrades; lighting; building envelope retrofits; cool roofs; renewable energy installations; and co-generation, including CHP.

Throughout 2018, five-year term Energy Efficiency loans had a fixed interest rate of 2%, and ten-year term Renewable Energy loans had a fixed interest rate of 5%. Local government entities were eligible to receive up to six years of financing at a 2% interest for qualified energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Qualifying entities could apply for loans between $20,000 and $5 million.

At the State level, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Energy Independence Act  in 2014, which amended TCA §67-4-2004(9) to include facilities utilizing natural gas in a CHP configuration, granting them the same treatment as geothermal, hydrogen, solar, and wind sources for excise tax assessment purposes, based on the cost of installation. 

Further, the Tennessee Public Utility Commission, through TCA §65-5-103, may authorize utilities to recover operational expenses and capital costs and earn a return on CHP installations in industrial and commercial sites. This 2014 statutory change opened up opportunities for investment, innovation, and partnerships with investor owned utilities in the State of Tennessee.


Last Updated: July 2019

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies exist to encourage CHP in Tennessee. The Qualified Energy Conservation Bond Program and Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program have both been used in the past to encourage the deployment of waste heat to power (WHP) systems in the state.

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services also helps companies evaluate, measure, and create a site-specific energy plan, which may include evaluating CHP options. 

In February 2019, the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the federally-owned corporate electricity provider for Tennessee, approved a project that will seek to deploy CHP, solar, and other technologies to address behind-the-meter customer needs. This project, called the DER Flexibility Research Project, allows member utilities to deploy CHP systems as well as to enter into a purchased power agreement with TVA for the power provided. The project is capped at 300MW total, of which a third may be CHP. TVA and the member utility organization have stated goals for the project of providing high levels of distribution system reliability and resiliency.  

Last Updated: July 2019

Score: 1.5 out of 15
Utilities Summary List All

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the largest publicly-owned electric utility in the country, is the primary electricity provider in Tennessee. As a publicly-owned utility, TVA is governed by a board of directors. While past energy efficiency efforts have been modest, TVA has ramped up energy efficiency programs for electricity customers across all sectors in recent years. Nonetheless, Tennessee falls below the national average for efficiency spending and realized savings.

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) is the state agency charged with the setting of rates and service standards for privately-owned telephone, natural gas, electric, and water utilities.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

In June 2007, the Tennessee legislature approved a joint resolution calling for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the largest publicly-owned electric utility in the country, to initiate large-scale efforts to improve energy efficiency. House Joint Resolution Number 472 noted, "[E]nergy conservation can easily meet and exceed the growing demand for electricity; and….TVA used energy efficient means of creating power in the 1970s to supplant the need to build new power plants." In response, TVA has released a suite of energy efficiency programs, for all customer segments, including but not limited to: home energy evaluations, rebates and attractive financing for efficiency measures, and technical/advising services.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: July 2018

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

There is currently no state-level policy in place that treats energy efficiency in the electricity sector as a resource. However, TVA evaluates energy efficiency and demand response programs on a level playing field with generation assets through the Integrated Resource Plan process.

For more information on energy efficiency as a resource, click here.

Last Updated: July 2018

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) stated in its 2008 Environmental Policy that in order to meet its objective of reducing the rate of carbon emissions, it needed to reduce load growth by at least one-quarter over five years through energy efficiency and demand-side initiatives.

In its 2011 integrated resource plan, TVA included savings goals from energy efficiency and demand-response in its recommended planning direction. The goals included reductions in peak demand of 3,600-5,100 MW and energy savings of 11,400-14,400 GWh to be met by the year 2020. These ranges include savings already achieved through 2010, when the planning process began. The degree to which these goals are binding in the long term is unclear and therefore is not considered an EERS. 

Last Updated: July 2018

Utility Business Model List All

There is currently no policy in place that decouples electric utility profits from sales, but the Tennessee Valley Authority made a determination that efforts will be made to address the issue of lost contributions to fixed costs for distributors.

In 2010, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) approved the Chattanooga Gas Co.'s request for an increased monthly charge for fixed costs to “more properly align the interest of ratepayers and utilities in better promoting energy efficiency.” The mechanism is referred to the Alignment and Usage Adjustment (AUA). The AUA applies to residential (R-1) and Small Commercial (C-1) classes. A revenue per customer was calculated for the aforementioned customer classes in docket 09-00183. Each year, the actual revenue per customer is compared to the benchmark revenue per customer. If the revenue per customer declines, then customers are surcharged to collect the difference during the subsequent year, and vice-versa. The AUA was approved on a three-year trial and was extended pending a full report on the mechanism. It remains in effect. There is, however, a 2% accrual on margin recoveries. 

There is currently no policy in place that rewards successful energy efficiency programs. The Tennessee Valley Authority has made a determination that incentives are not appropriate for a public power company.

Last Updated: July 2018

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: total resource cost test
  • Secondary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: utility cost test, ratepayer impact measure test

Evaluations in Tennessee are mainly administered by the Tennessee Valley Authority. There are no specific legal requirements for these evaluations in Tennessee.

According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), TVA relies on a Total Resource Cost model (TRC) to be its primary cost effectiveness test for decision making. In addition, Tennessee uses the Ratepayer Impact Measure test (RIM) and the Utility Cost Test (UCT) as a secondary test.  According to TVA, the benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio and total program level screening. The rules for benefit-cost tests are not specified. Some exceptions of flexibility exist in the application like low-income programs, pilots, and new technologies. TVA has instituted a robust EM&V effort to assess all its programs on an ongoing three- to four-year cycle. An independent, third-party contractor has been engaged to collect onsite performance data, validate adherence to program guidelines, and identify potential process improvements. Planning estimates of impacts, life spans, and net-to-gross ratios are adjusted in accordance with the findings of the EM&V assessments.

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Tennessee is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP).

Last Reviewed: January 2020

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

No specific required spending or savings requirements were identified.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

According to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio and total program-level screening. The rules for benefit-cost tests are not specified. Some exceptions of flexibility exist in the application like low-income programs, pilots, and new technologies.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

Level of coordination is unclear from publicly available data.

Last updated: July 2018

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

There are no self-direct or opt-out programs in Tennessee. 

Data AccessList All

Tennessee has no policy in place that requires utilities to release energy use data to customers or third parties. 

Last Updated: July 2018

Score: 3.5 out of 13
Transportation Summary List All

The state has passed complete streets legislation and allows regional authorities to set up dedicated funding streams for mass transit.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

No policy in place or proposed. 

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land Use Integration: Tennessee's Multimodal Access Grant provides support to the transportation needs of transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists through infrastructure projects that address existing gaps along state routes and access at transit hubs.

The 25-Year Long-Range Transportation Policy Plan provides the foundation for prioritizing transportation investments across the State. The updated plan will aid in accomplishing TDOT's mission to serve the public by providing the best multimodal transportation system in the nation. TDOT's 25-Year Long-Range Transportation Plan allows TDOT to make key long-term funding and policy decisions about transportation investments throughout Tennessee today and in the future. A major outcome of this two-year comprehensive effort is a mid-term, 10-Year Strategic Investment Program. 

TDOT is currently in the process of revamping its transportation demand management (TDM) program, Smart Commute. This program focuses on the state’s largest urban areas, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis. The program’s goal is to increase the efficiency of transportation systems by reducing single occupant vehicle trips through increased use of transportation alternatives (i.e., transit, carpools, vanpools, biking, walking, and teleworking). TDOT will be working with regional TDM programs, which offer education and outreach opportunities to encourage employers and commuters alike to take alterative commute options. TDOT is also developing performance measures to begin tracking the progress of the TDM programs and is updating the Smart Commute webpage to reflect all relevant program changes. The Smart Commute Webpage is in the process of migrating to the State’s broader Team TN site. 

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) developed a Tennessee Statewide Multimodal Freight Plan under MAP-21 that was revised to meet FAST Act state freight plan requirements; this plan was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in March of 2018. A summary of how this plan meets FAST Act state freight plan requirements is available in Appendix 1. The plan does not include energy efficiency performance measures. The plan also does not include a modal balance target, but does speak to efforts focused on freight diversion (the diversion of freight truck traffic to other modes, such as rail or water).

Additionally, TDOT recently update the Statewide Rail Plan. A primary objective of this plan is to “encourage rail transport, which provides for the efficient movement of freight while reducing energy consumption and highway congestion by reducing truck traffic.”

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Transit Funding List All

Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-3205 grants local governments the ability to use revenue from a surcharge for costs associated with the planning, engineering, development, construction, implementation, administration, management, operation, and maintenance of public transit system projects that are part of a transit improvement program. Additionally, Tenn. Code Ann. § 64-8-207 outlines the powers granted to regional transportation authorities to finance mass transit and transportation plans.

Multimodal Access Grants: Beginning in FY 2014, TDOT established and managed a grant program to fund multimodal transportation improvement projects along the state highway network. TDOT’s Multimodal Access Grant Program improves access to all modes of transportation at key locations along or near state routes by filling gaps in the existing system. Infrastructure projects improve safety, encourage economic development, and support the transportation needs of all users on the state routes by improving facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users. Multimodal Access projects are funded at 95% by the state with a 5% local match. The State match for a project must not exceed $950,000. Eligible projects include sidewalks, bus shelters and other transit stop amenities, pedestrian crossing improvements, and bike facilities on state routes. To date, this grant program has funded 75 projects totaling $58,000,000 in grant funding. The application window for the 2020-21 round of funding opened in June 2020, and will make $18,000,000 available for eligible projects.

IMPROVE Act: On April 26, 2017, Governor Haslam signed the “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy Act,” or the IMPROVE Act into law. The legislation, House Bill 534 and Senate Bill 1221, passed with huge margins in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly. The law provides a stable, reliable source of funding for transportation infrastructure improvements and creates the capability for local voters, through a referendum, to impose a capped surcharge on existing taxes as a dedicated funding source for transit projects. 

The Tennessee state legislature allocates $21 million annually to the Division of Multimodal Transportation Resources within TDOT through the IMPROVE Act Public Transit Capital Grant program. These funds are distributed through an annual, competitive call for projects. Projects are evaluated on their (1) project readiness, (2) improvements to jobs access/economic development, (3) reduction of congestion, (4) improvements to safety, and (5) alignment with strategic priorities/strong MPO support. Previously awarded project types include (1) rolling stock, (2) transit facilities, (3) Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects, (4) safety & security improvements, and more. 

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed. However, some local jurisdictions offer incentives:

  • The Davidson County Clerk offers a “green permit” for low emission vehicles, which allows free parking at metered parking spaces within the Downtown Nashville Central Business Improvement District (Link).
  • Knoxville Utilities Board residential customers are eligible to receive a rebate for the purchase and installation of Level 2 electric vehicle supply equipment. The rebate will cover 100% of the costs, up to $400 (Link).

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Equitable Access to TransportationList All

Expanding access to public transit

Office of Mobility & Accessible Transportation: Enacted by TN legislature in 2020 with the purpose of improving the mobility of Tennesseans. The Office resides in the Multimodal Division of TDOT and provides resources and expertise for expanding and improving accessible transportation and mobility across the state. The Office provides an annual report to the legislature on their work. The 2021 Report featured the initial draft of a 5-year strategic plan and the 2022 report will include the final Strategic Plan that includes objectives for the next 5-years.

Statewide Job Access Reverse Commute: This Coordinated Statewide JARC planning project will use active community engagement and human-centered design to identify and address critical transportation needs for employment access in persistent poverty communities. The final objective is a fully developed Statewide JARC Program which will increase access to jobs through enhanced transit options in persistent poverty areas, with an emphasis on innovate program design.

Pedestrian Road Safety Initiative: TDOT Multimodal Planning Office is currently utilizing Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds specifically to spot infrastructure improvements for pedestrian safety, such as sidewalks and signalized midblock crossings in high needs pedestrian locations. These chosen locations align with transit routes and underserved populations. To target these locations, TDOT created the Multimodal Prioritization Tool, which includes factors such as crash history and underserved population demographics to score Tennessee roadways and prioritize highest need locations.

The Tennessee Housing Development Authority's (THDA) Low Income Housing Credit (LIHC) 2021 Qualified Allocation Plan also notes that preference for Public Housing Authority and Existing Multifamily Housing Allocations will be given to projects that propose a development covered by a Concerted Community Revitalization Plan, which must address infrastructure (e.g., access to public transit, transit-oriented development, etc.)."

Equitable transportation electrification

On February 3, 2021, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced a partnership to develop a statewide electric vehicle (EV) fast charging network to power the growth of EVs across Tennessee and reduce barriers to transportation electrification. Specifically, the two have signed an agreement to collaborate and fund a network of fast charging stations every 50 miles along Tennessee’s interstates and major highways.

TDEC and TVA will leverage various funding sources to support the development of the fast charging network with an anticipated project cost of $20 million. TDEC has committed 15%, the maximum allowable, of the State’s Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust allocation to fund light-duty EV charging infrastructure. Approximately $5 million from this fund is expected to be allocated to fast charging infrastructure along corridors.

Under the state's initial allocation under the Volkswagen Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust, all grant programs released by TDEC thus far (the School Bus Replacement Grant Program, Transit and Shuttle Bus Grant Program, and the Medium and Large Truck Grant Program) have offered higher funding caps for government-owned projects that will operate 70% or more of the time in economically Distressed counties (as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission). Distressed Counties are defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission as those counties that rank amongst the 10% most economically distressed counties in the nation based on a three-year average unemployment rate, per capita market income, and poverty rate. Distressed County designations are updated each State Fiscal Year. Additionally, to consider the potential beneficial impact of selected projects on air quality in areas that bear a disproportionate share of the air pollution burden, the State has developed a “Disproportionate Burden Index” (DBI), which combines environmental, economic, and demographic datasets in a geospatial format to determine geographic units in Tennessee that have the highest air quality burden. Given that disproportionate burden is relative to the location of a project, TDEC utilizes the DBI and its geospatial display during the proposal review phase to assist with project prioritization and selection, focusing on the location and/or service area of the proposed project. For more information on the DBI, refer to Section VI. Consideration of Disproportionate Burden within the State of Tennessee’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

In January 2019, Drive Electric TN (DET) released the first edition of its Electric Vehicle Roadmap, which identifies “Opportunity Areas” that will increase EV adoption across multiple Tennessee use cases and sectors. Three DET Opportunity Area committees have since been formed to address various projects and initiatives highlighted in the Roadmap: Charging Infrastructure Availability, Policies and Programs, and Awareness.

The Policies and Programs Opportunity Area has begun several projects to promote best practices for equitable EV and charging infrastructure deployment, including creation of a Local Action Plan video series for use by local governments in support of transportation electrification. One planned video in this series, expected for publication by the end of 2021, will address steps local governments and other stakeholders can take when designing and implementing policies for equitable access to EVs and their economic, environmental, and social benefits.

Additionally, in November 2019, DET’s Infrastructure Opportunity Area published a Statewide Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Needs Assessment to evaluate the condition of Tennessee's current EV charging infrastructure and to identify charging needs for the future. Whereas high demand EV charging sites can attract private investment (e.g., retail charging, community charging), the Needs Assessment found that lower demand EV charging sites (e.g., corridor charging, rural charging) are not as appealing for private investors and may require investment from public institutions and/or utilities. The Needs Assessment also concluded that EV charging infrastructure should be prioritized for highway routes and rural tourism destinations, to relieve range anxiety and connect rural and urban areas. Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Opportunity Maps developed by TDEC highlight these corridors and existing fast charging infrastructure (DCFC), the location of State Parks, and Distressed and At-risk Counties.

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Tennessee has not set appliance standards beyond those required by the federal government.

Last Reviewed: June 2019