Tennessee Energy Efficiency Loan Program
OEP oversees the State’s involvement with the Pathway Lending Energy Efficiency Loan Program (EELP). EELP launched in the fall of 2010 with the purpose of establishing a low-interest revolving loan fund to assist commercial and industrial businesses in implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, which, in turn, reduce operating costs, improve productivity, and make Tennessee businesses more competitive. Pathway Lending operates and manages this revolving loan fund, to which the State and TVA each committed $14 million and Pathway Lending committed $5 million. Eligible projects under the EELP include: efficient equipment upgrades, lighting, HVAC/mechanical upgrades, building retrofits such as cool roofs, renewable energy projects, and co-generation.
Beginning January 4, 2016 the Energy Efficiency Loan Program began accepting applications from local governmental entities. This expansion offers up to six years of financing at 2% interest for qualified energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to Tennessee local governmental entities including municipalities, counties, school districts and other similar public agencies.
Success Story: Wade's Food Center
Started in 1917, Wade’s Food Center, Inc. has evolved from a hardware and grocery store on the square in Decatur to more than a dozen grocery and hardware stores across East Tennessee and Georgia. Along with their stores, the Wade family has been a fixture in rural Tennessee since well before Willis Wade opened his first Piggly Wiggly in Decatur in 1983.
At the helm of the latest generation of Wade’s Food Center stores is Willis Wade’s daughter Tiffany Wade-Pilkey. “My favorite part about working in the grocery business is the people,” said Tiffany. “You have a lot of grateful people in a small community. All of our stores are in rural areas and we support each of the communities wholly.”
Tiffany recently lead all six of their Tennessee stores through a complete lighting upgrade with the help of an energy efficiency loan from Pathway Lending and funds from the USDA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. The Wades found out about Pathway Lending’s loan program and the other incentives they were eligible for through Jim Clark of Intelligent Energy Optimizers, who stopped by their Etowah store while visiting family.
“Jim’s company had just completed a lighting project in South Carolina, and told my dad about the energy efficiency program,” said Tiffany. “Right after their meeting, our project started. I have learned so much through this process – grant writing, inspections, everything.”
The only hurdle the Wades encountered during the process was their light usage hours being underestimated. “Make sure you are clear on your operating hours and how your impact funds are calculated.” Their inspection and projections process had to be repeated, and sensors installed in the store to measure light usage. “Brandon England from Pathway Lending helped us every step of the way – he helped answer a lot of my questions.”
Upgrading the lighting in their six Tennessee grocery stores will save enough energy to power more than 100 households for a year. The new lights produce less heat, which also helps the Wade’s bottom line for cooling costs. “Investing in this energy efficiency program has been worth every penny. Basically by the time the project is done, you’ve already paid for it.”
What’s next? The Wades are already looking at upgrading the lighting in their Georgia locations, and have plans to install a cool roof for the Decatur store. Pathway Lending is proud to help Wade’s Food Center, Inc. invest in improving the community their family has called home for generations.
Success Story: Manufacturers Industrial Group
Manufacturers Industrial Group (MIG) is a full service contract manufacturer primarily producing automotive seat subassemblies, components and hardware. With more than one millions square feet of floor space across their facilities in Lexington, Chattanooga, and Athens, energy efficient lighting presented a tremendous opportunity to reduce their operating expenses. In 2011, MIG received a complete facility audit for their Lexington location. Provided through a partnership with Pathway Lending and several state agencies, this audit included a comprehensive review of lighting, wiring, air hoses, power outlets and other areas, and resulted in the decision to retrofit the facility’s lights.
Management knew they would achieve significant long-term energy savings with the retrofit, but they also realized other unexpected benefits. Once installed, the improved lighting had a profound impact on employees – on their physical, physiological, and psychological well-being, affecting their overall performance. “It is like the difference between night and day,” said former MIG CEO Andre Gist. “Along with the energy improvements, the new lighting also provides a better environment for employees. I highly recommend it.” The lighting retrofit paid for itself in two years and has since led to additional projects at their other loctions, which help this rural Tennessee employer operate efficiently now and for years to come.
Did You Know: A study by the American Society of Interior Designers on Employees Perceptions of Workplace Lighting found:
- 68% of employees complain about the light in their workspace.
- 75% report that they could be more efficient and productive with better light.
- 30% suffer from headaches due to eyestrain.
- 25% report losing 15 minutes per day due to eye focusing problems. This is equivalent to 1.5 weeks per year.