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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 [...]
This blog is the second in a series SACE is publishing on recent energy efficiency meetings between TVA and community members all across the Tennessee Valley. The first blog, focusing on TVA customers in rural East Tennessee, can be found here. As part of a statewide organizing effort, communities across Tennessee are meeting with Tennessee [...]
This Earth Day, we take a moment to recognize that clean energy solutions can not only help save our planet from the devastation of extreme climate change, but also help save families from suffering due to high energy costs. Just this week, Memphis, TN was named one of the top 10 cities with the highest energy burden in the country in a new report, with Memphians spending an average of just over 6% of their income on energy bills. This percentage more than doubles for low-income families in Memphis, with those families paying over 13% of their income on utility bills – the highest in the country! Families with high energy burdens suffer significant negative health impacts and economic hardship. They face greater risks for respiratory diseases and increased stress, and too often have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping their lights on.
Where’s the best place for solar energy? It may not seem obvious to many readers, but Memphis, Tennessee is one of the smartest places to put solar energy in the Southeast. Just this week, TVA showed how it is following this kind of smart siting by signing a a 53 megawatt (MW) solar facility power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nashville-based renewable energy provider, Silicon Ranch Corporation, to construct what will be Tennessee’s largest solar array in Millington, TN, just north of Memphis.
What’s so smart about putting solar in the western part of TVA’s service territory? It turns out that on hot summer days, TVA can rely on the sun shining on West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi late into the day – producing solar energy just when air conditioners across the entire Tennessee Valley most needs this clean energy to keep folks cool.
In cities as old and historic as Memphis, TN, there are often many older, inefficient homes where energy seeps out through leaky windows, doors and poorly insulated attics. A city often remembered for its role in the Civil Rights Movement, Memphis is a majority-minority city with African-Americans comprising around 63% of the population. As of 2010, almost 27% of Memphians were living in poverty – and only a little more than half of the city (51%) owned their own homes. The other half of Memphians live in multi-family housing, like apartment buildings, duplexes, and condominiums, where families have less control over the energy efficiency of their residences.
Arlicia Gilliams is one Memphian who used to live in an extremely inefficient apartment that lost energy through poorly sealed doors, windows and a poorly sealed attic. Although gainfully employed and working hard, Ms. Gilliams was struggling to meet unnecessarily high utility bills while also on the search to buy a house. Now, Ms. Gilliams is the proud owner of a new energy efficient home built by Habitat for Humanity.
As 2015 draws to a close, we wanted to update you on where our major Southeastern utilities are in terms of decreasing their reliance on dirty, coal-fired power. This blog series is following up on a previous series in 2013. (You can view our previous Southeast Coal Roundup blogs here – Tennessee Valley Authority, Southern [...]