City Kicks Off Solar Cities Project

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City Kicks Off Solar Cities Project

Posted: 10/24/2008
Mayor Bill Haslam and the U.S. Department of Energy's Tom Kimbis officially launched Knoxville's Solar America Cities Program today by helping unveil a dozen brightly-colored street signs announcing that Knoxville is a Solar America City.

Knoxville was one of a dozen cities that the DOE selected earlier this year to participate in the 2008 Solar America Cities program. The cities - ranging in size from large municipalities like Houston, Denver and Boston to smaller ones like Santa Rosa, CA - were selected based on their commitment to reducing the barriers to widespread deployment of solar technology.

These 12 cities join 13 other cities that the DOE designated as Solar America Cities in 2007, bringing the current total to 25 cities. The program is part of the DOE's Solar America Initiative that aims to make solar-generated electricity cost competitive by 2015. Knoxville is one of only three Solar America Cities in the Southeast.

The selection includes a $200,000 DOE grant to the city and another $250,000 worth of technical assistance from DOE.

The unveiling took place during a ceremony at the Tennessee Amphitheater in World's Fair Park and the 2.5x3-foot signs will soon greet motorists on streets and highways across the city. 

"The City of Knoxville is, in a lot of ways, starting from scratch in terms of solar infrastructure," Haslam said. "But because of our selection as a Solar America City, and the expert help that comes with that honor, we're off to a great start." 
"We're committed to lowering the barriers to the development of solar energy in our city and we look forward to turning the ideas we have into reality," he added.

Kimbis, Director of Market Transformation for the DOE's Solar Program, helped create its Solar America Initiative, which includes the Solar America Cities program. 
"The Solar America City partnerships are helping our nation address two of the most pressing challenges we face," he said, "improving our energy security and combating global climate change."

Also taking part in the ceremony were Dana Christensen, Associate Laboratory Director of the Energy & Engineering Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE); Mintha Roach, President and CEO of the Knoxville Utilities Board; Joseph Hoagland, Vice President of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response for the Tennessee Valley Authority; Ryan Gooch, Energy Policy Director, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development and Madeleine Weil, Deputy Director of the City of Knoxville's Policy & Communications Department who led the city's effort to be named a Solar America City.

The staffs at ORNL and the Florida Solar Energy Center are providing the technical expertise needed to make the initiatives successful.

TVA is providing a $50,000 annual grant for two years to support the program and both TVA and KUB have pledged additional technical assistance.

The City of Knoxville's plans include:

1. Installation of a 4.8 kW solar power generation system in the new LEED-certified downtown transit center.

2. Integration of solar hot water systems in some of the homes the city's Community Development Department and its non-profit partners build or renovate.

3. Design and installation of an educational exhibit for the existing 15 kW solar power array at Ijams Nature Center.

4. Development of outreach aimed at identifying businesses and individuals interested in solar power and getting useful information to them. The effort would include the development of a website highlighting the technical resources and financial incentives available to those interested in installing solar technology.

5. Establishment of high quality solar installation certification courses to strengthen the local workforce.

6. Creation of technical training programs for City, County and KUB code officials and inspectors.

More information about the City of Knoxville's Solar Program is available at

More information about the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities Partnership is available at