Walking in Memphis—Just Feet Above a Coal Ash Cesspool

Memphis residents now have another reason to sing the blues. Last week, the nation’s largest public utility, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), admitted that the groundwater beneath its Allen coal-burning power plant is poisoned with astronomically high amounts of arsenic. Levels of the potent carcinogen measure nearly 400 times the federal limit for drinking water. In addition, lead in the groundwater is more than four times the standard.

A Penny Shared is a Penny Used to Lift Energy Burdens in Memphis

More often than not, Memphians rely on each other in the face of a challenge, so it’s only appropriate that now, when other options are unavailable in the short-term, Memphians are turning to each other to help lift unnecessarily high energy burdens that are contributing to an intergenerational cycle of poverty. The Share the Pennies program, which came out of a community-driven effort to find relief for burdened communities, is betting that Memphians will once again come to each other’s aid in the short-term, as we continue to fight for long-term solutions from sources outside our communities.

Memphis Wins BIG in the Solar in Your Community Challenge!

Summer is just around the corner and the sun is already shining on Memphis, TN. Five Memphis teams are moving forward to the next phase of the SunShot Prize: Solar In Your Community Challenge, a Department of Energy initiative aimed at increasing opportunities and access to solar resources in lower-income communities (The State University of New York Polytechnic Institute will administer the Challenge). Memphis is prime real estate for solar projects, thanks both to geography and the long hours of sunlight we get throughout the year. Couple that with a high number of communities living in poverty and in need of cheap power – the SunShot Challenge is a perfect fit for Memphis.

What’s Wrong With This Picture? TVA’s So-Called Coal Ash “Solution”

The Tennessee Valley Authority is planning to “clean up” 13.4 million tons of coal ash by capping it in place. Our new animation shows why cap in place is not a solution for unlined ash pits: it doesn’t keep ash separated from groundwater. Click the image on the left to watch the 30-second clip, and then [...]

Black History Month Energy Leaders Blog Series: Reverend Marlon T. Foster’s Quest for Energy Efficiency and Community Solar

A recognized and dedicated leader and pastor in South Memphis, Rev. Marlon Foster was born, raised and currently lives, works and worships in the area. Shortly after his graduation from Lemoyne-Owen College (LOC), Foster and several other residents began tutoring reading comprehension to children in the neighborhood. These were the beginnings of what is now known as Knowledge Quest (KQ), a youth and community development organization, whose mission is “to vigorously equip youth to maximize their potential through intellectual and character development”.

Smart, Prosperous and Resilient? Memphis Named as 1 of 6 Sites for New Climate, Health and Racial Equity Initiative

High energy burdens, sub-standard housing, pervasive poverty, poor public transportation access, poor access to health care and food deserts are all too common in North Memphis. Large community re-development projects in Memphis have often left communities like North Memphis behind – resulting in more divided neighborhoods and displacement of low-income and minority communities. Many are left asking – when is this ever going to change?

As it turns out, a change may be coming thanks to a novel opportunity known as the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). Memphis, specifically North Memphis, has been chosen as one of six SPARCC sites, along with Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles and the San Fransisco Bay Area. The three-year SPARCC initiative is focused on fostering collaboration and could lead to multi-million investment in community driven projects.

Black History Month Energy Leaders Blog Series: Lynn Evans Becomes First African American Woman to Lead TVA Board

For the first time in its 83-year old history, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has an African-American woman leading its Board of Directors. It is also the first time someone from Memphis, which is home to TVA’s largest customer Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW), has held the Board chair. V. Lynn Evans was named as the new TVA Board Chair after the former TVA Board Chair, Joe Ritch, ended his term on January 3, 2017. In these polarizing times, we celebrate the fact that one of our largest utilities in the Southeast has appointed a qualified leader like Ms. Evans – and broken with history by appointing a woman to Board chair for the first time. As one local Memphis publication put it – Ms. Evans is “a ‘first’ on three fronts.”

Success! Memphis City Council Votes to Help Lift Extreme Energy Burden

At Tuesday afternoon’s Memphis City Council meeting, the Council unanimously approved a resolution that strongly recommends changing Memphis Light Gas and Water’s (MLGW) current Share the Pennies program to an “automatically enrolled” format. This small program design change, which SACE has been advocating for since Spring 2016, will help generate significantly more funding for Project Care, MLGW’s low-income home weatherization initiative – potentially generating around $1.5 million dollars per year! Additionally, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), MLGW’s wholesale power provider, has agreed to purchase any energy savings realized by the “new” Share the Pennies program, providing another valuable source of funding for a program.

Join Us at the Energy Justice Town Hall on Jan. 12th!

Energy Justice Town Hall this Thursday – Jan 12, 6-7:30PM | Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library | 3030 Poplar Ave – SACE staff and several Memphis allies invite you to attend our Energy Justice Town Hall to learn why Memphians have the highest energy burdens in the country – and share your own story as we discuss suggestions for solutions.

Spotlight Shines on Extreme Energy Burdens in Memphis

This past week, national experts from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) traveled from Washington, D.C. to Memphis, TN to help shine a spotlight on the extreme energy burdens many Memphians are struggling under on a daily basis. As previously reported in a SACE blog, ACEEE identified Memphis as the most energy burdened [...]