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Sustainable Transportation and Alternative Fuels

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the transportation sector is the largest energy consuming end-use sector in Tennessee, representing 29.4% of Tennessee’s total energy consumption in 2017.  To address this critical energy sector, the TDEC Office of Energy Programs (OEP) promotes and educates Tennessee citizens about alternative fuels, advanced vehicle technologies, and sustainable transportation options. By prioritizing and educating citizens regarding the aspects of energy use in transportation, OEP seeks to reduce energy costs within the transportation sector, increase the energy efficiency of the transportation sector, enhance resiliency and emergency preparedness through diversification of available fuels, and promote economic growth with improved environmental quality.

TN Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo

Each year, TDEC, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and Tennessee Clean Fuels co-host the Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo. This two-day forum provides insights, case studies, and lessons learned on topics related to sustainable transportation and features a showcase of alternative fuel vehicles and equipment. The event also includes an awards ceremony to honor winners of the annual Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards; these awards recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation systems in the state.

Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition

The U.S. Department of Energy's (U.S. DOE) Clean Cities program advances the nation's economic, environmental, and energy security by working locally to advance affordable, domestic transportation fuels and technologies. In Tennessee, there are two U.S. DOE-designated Clean Cities Coalitions: The Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition (MWTCF) and the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition (ETCF), known collectively as Tennessee Clean Fuels. Since 2017, TDEC OEP has served as the Coordinator for MWTCF.

Tennessee and the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement

In 2015, Volkswagen (WV) admitted that it had installed software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators in approximately 590,000 motor vehicles containing diesel engines. Under the VW Diesel Settlement, VW must: (1) recall at least 85% of the affected vehicles; (2) invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and promotion; and (3) establish an Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) to mitigate the environmental effects of the affected vehicles’ excess NOX emissions. TDEC OEP serves as the administrative lead for purposes of managing Tennessee’s trust allocation under the EMT.

Drive Electric Tennessee

Drive Electric Tennessee is a statewide electric vehicle consortium organized by Navigant Consulting on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority.  A core team of stakeholders, including TDEC OEP, worked together to develop a shared vision for electric transportation in the state, which includes goals and guiding principles for increased EV adoption over the next 5-10 years. The group has released the first edition of an Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Tennessee, identifying projects and initiatives for local stakeholder implementation that will increase electric vehicle adoption. 

Initiative for Resiliency in Energy through Vehicles (iREV)

iREV brings together emergency management, energy security, and transportation experts to support the incorporation of alternative fuel vehicles in emergency response and preparedness operations. iREV’s resources and technical assistance aid emergency management entities in examining the costs, benefits, and interdependencies associated with diversifying local fleets, reducing dependence on petroleum, and investing in alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure in support of energy security.

TN Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program

The Tennessee Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program provided grant funding to minimize the incremental cost of more than 80 alternative fuel vehicle purchases and/or conversions. Managed by TDEC OEP, the Program incentivized the investment in and operation of natural gas or propane-powered light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles by public, non-profit, and private fleets in Tennessee.

TN Electric Vehicle Advisory Council (TEVAC)

OEP coordinates and participates as a member of TEVAC, a statewide stakeholder organization that meets on a quarterly basis to discuss issues related to electric vehicles (EVs), including market developments, infrastructure planning and installation, and vehicle adoption in Tennessee. TEVAC consists of representatives from the auto manufacturing, utility, research, public, and nonprofit sectors and serves as a resource through which members share research and data on EVs to inform best practices.

Alternative Fuels Data Center

The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides information, data, and tools to help fleets and other transportation decision-makers find ways to reach their energy and economic goals through the use of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and other fuel-saving measures. The AFDC serves Clean Cities coalitions (including MWTCF), as well as businesses, policymakers, government agencies, and the general public.


TennSMART is a public-private consortium designed to accelerate the development and deployment of new intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee.  It provides a collaborative forum for key stakeholders representing the automotive and trucking industries, local and State government (including TDEC OEP), and research institutions to address opportunities that no one organization could attain alone. TennSMART focuses on research related to connected and automated vehicles, EVs, cybersecurity, freight efficiency, and multimodal commuting.

TN Natural Gas and Propane Vehicle Grant Program photo, "CNG Fueled Delivery Truck," by Pat Corkery, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). TennSMART photo, "VTIF Research," by Dennis Schroeder, NREL.  All other photos courtesy of TDEC OEP staff, U.S. DOE, Wikimedia Commons, or