Latest News

Skyhawk Solar Project Construction Underway

Date: August 17, 2022

Thanks to a partnership between the Tennessee Valley Authority, Origis Energy, and Excelsior Energy Capital, construction has started on the Skyhawk Solar project — a 100-MW solar facility in Obion County. The solar project will supply carbon-free energy to Google’s hyperscale data centers in Clarksville, Tennessee, and Jackson County, Alabama.

Skyhawk Solar was developed through TVA’s Green Invest, a utility-scale solar solution that offers business and industry an effective, timely, and cost-competitive solar solution to aggressively meet sustainability goals. The program matches customer-driven commitments for renewable energy with new utility-scale solar facilities to be constructed in the Tennessee Valley.

“TVA has the cleanest power system in the southeast and we are helping attract sustainability-focused companies that bring jobs and investments to this region,” said Doug Perry, senior VP of TVA Commercial Energy Solutions. Read more.


Camp for High Schoolers Fosters an Interest in Engineering

Date: August 17, 2022

Tennessee Tech recently held an engineering and computer camp for high schoolers, actionnews5 reports. The camp, geared toward future engineers, helps familiarize the young students with the world of engineering and the many disciplines available to those in the field.

At the camp, students learn from professors at Tennessee Tech from many different departments including chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing and engineering technology, and mechanical engineering.

One engineering student at the college credits the camp with enticing them to major in the field.

Federal Funds for Infrastructure to Bolster State Tourism

Date: July 20, 2022

The US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration is investing $4.1 million in the City of Pigeon Forge to support the recovery and growth of the local tourism economy via infrastructure improvements and resiliency measures. These grants are funded by the American Rescue Plan.

A $3.3 million grant will be spent on transportation infrastructure improvements in the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and on US 411 in Sevier County, to allow increased capacity for visitors traveling to the region's recreational attractions and special events. The EDA investment will be matched with $2 million in local funds.

Another $774,600 grant for Pigeon Forge will support development of a regional recovery strategy to plan resilience to future economic shocks. The EDA investment will be matched with $1.5 million in state and local funds. Read more.


PFAs Found in Drinking Water Near DOD Sites

Date: July 20, 2022

Recently released data from the Department of Defense show high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) found in drinking water near military bases, including in Tennessee, waterworld.com reports. The EPA says no level of the toxic, cancer-causing chemicals are considered safe for human consumption.

The chemicals were found in groundwater near 400 military installations in 18 other states, as well.

In June, the EPA issued four drinking water health advisories relating to PFAs. To help combat PFAS pollution, it has also invited states to apply for part of $1 billion in funding to address contaminants in drinking water, specifically in small or disadvantaged communities. An additional $4 billion will ultimately be available for this purpose as part of infrastructure law grant funding.

Volkswagen Opens Cutting-Edge Battery Engineering Lab

Date: June 18, 2022

A new $22 million Battery Engineering Lab in Chattanooga will be Volkswagen of America’s flagship facility for battery expertise. Opened earlier this month, the 32,000 square foot facility will enable Volkswagen to gain a competitive edge in the push to electric mobility, the company stated in a news release.

The company’s engineering group in Chattanooga consists of more than 100 engineers in various roles. They are focused on sustainability; when batteries are discharged during testing, the energy produced will be transferred back into the building, and local public grid and scrapped materials will be recycled.

Building the Battery Engineering Lab from the ground up allowed Volkswagen to install highly specialized equipment, such as the electrical Multi-Axial Shaker Table. The machine allows for extreme vibration tests to simulate one average year of driving (15,000 km or about 9,321 mi) in just one week.


School Districts Identified for ‘Clean’ School Buses

Date: June 18, 2022

About 80 Tennessee school districts were selected by the Environmental Protection Agency as having priority for “clean” school bus funding, WPLN reports. Prioritized school districts were identified as high-need, low-income, and rural.

The funding will help districts replace older, heavily polluting buses with new ones that use greener technology. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said this “will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities.” Read more.

New Airport in Oak Ridge Could Draw Industry, Development

Date: May 18, 2022

This year's state budget includes $11 million for a new general aviation airport in Oak Ridge, which could help draw industry to the area, according to the Oak Ridger.

"Oak Ridge is becoming a center for innovation, and the new airport will connect it with the rest of the country and support the economic growth of the region," a news release from the Tennessee Republican Caucus stated.

The airport will be located at the East Tennessee Technology Park, a 1,300-acre industrial site at the former K-25 site and near Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"…companies are locating at ETTP and investing millions of dollars in advanced energy research and development as well as medical isotope production," the news release stated. A medical isotope company, Coquí Pharma has expressed interest in the ETTP site.

The airport would not have commercial flights. In total, the project is expected to cost about $55 million and is relying on funding from various sources. An environmental assessment and preliminary engineering study is in its beginning stages, and the airport is slated to open in 2025.


Tennessee Valley Authority Releases Sustainability Report

Date: May 18, 2022

The Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public power provider, released its Fiscal Year 2021 Sustainability Report sharing the agency's comprehensive efforts to be a national leader in environmental, social and governance initiatives as it creates a more sustainable future across seven states.

"Sustainability is deeply rooted in TVA's culture, and it's our cornerstone as we deliver innovative solutions that are transforming our seven-state region and beyond," said Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO.

Through solar energy, transportation electrification, advanced nuclear technology and energy justice efforts, TVA says it uses sustainability as a competitive advantage to attract jobs and investment. The agency's mission is to position itself and the communities it serves as sustainability leaders as the nation drives toward net-zero emissions.

Tennessee National Guard Recognized for Best Environmental Program

Date: April 19, 2022

The Tennessee National Guard's Construction and Facilities Management Office Environmental Program was awarded an Environmental Stewardship Trophy for best overall environmental program.

The award goes to the state or territory with the highest overall score in cleanup, conservation, energy, and construction by the National Guard Bureau's Installations and Environment Directorate. Tennessee achieved the maximum allotted score in conservation, in addition to high scores in the other sections.

Conservation and compliance is crucial to the National Guard's environmental responsibilities. The Department of Defense owns 8.8 million acres of land in the United States, with 13,790 acres managed by the Tennessee National Guard. Land conservation is vital to the future force readiness, the agency says.


Coalition Urges Valley Authority to Move Faster Toward Renewable Energy

Date: April 19, 2022

A new coalition is pushing the Tennessee Valley Authority to work toward independence from fossil fuels by 2030, but the provider's goal is 2050, to ensure low-cost and reliable energy, the Memphis Flyer reports.

The Clean Up TVA Coalition is made up of dozens of organizations, including environmental, social justice, and political groups like the Memphis NAACP, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Sierra Club, Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light, Appalachian Voices, and more.

The coalition was formed in response to TVA's desire to replace its Kingston and Cumberland coal plants with new methane gas plants and 149 miles of new gas pipeline. The utility reportedly has the second-highest planned gas buildout by 2030 among all major utilities. The coalition is urging TVA to invest instead in clean energy, such as solar, storage, and energy efficiency, to replace the utility's fossil fuel fleet, especially the retiring plants.


NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Civil Engineer III/Office Leader

Memphis, TN

Engineering Manager
Clarksville, TN

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Tennessee PE Honored as FEYA Finalist

Date: March 14, 2022

Christopher Saucier, P.E., was recently honored as a top 10 finalist for NSPE’s Federal Engineer of the Year Award for his work on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Boone Dam Remediation Project in Kingsport, Tennessee. Saucier and the other finalists were recognized prior to the announcement of a winner during a virtual awards event on February 24. Robert Zueck, Ph.D., P.E., was named the 2022 FEYA winner.

The Federal Engineer of the Year Award, sponsored by the Professional Engineers in Government, honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide. These nominees have made extensive contributions to their organizations and also to the public that PEs ultimately serve.

Chris Saucier P.E.

Leading Project Manager Brings Boone Dam Remediation to a Close
After nearly seven years of remediation work, Boone Dam is expected to reopen to the public this summer. Christopher Saucier, P.E., was the principal project manager and technical director for the Boone Dam Internal Erosion Remediation Project, the largest dam safety modification program in agency history. The final construction piece of the dam’s recovery, a composite seepage barrier (cutoff wall), is anticipated to provide value beyond remediation costs and ensure public safety through enhanced risk reduction measures. Guiding a team of 60 engineers, geologists, and geographic information specialists, Saucier led development of new project structures and processes—coordinating efforts and communications between TVA design and construction teams and external contractors.

Aligned with the numerous technical advancements achieved during the project, Saucier facilitated new strategies for agency reviews and approvals required for project closure and reservoir operation, further advancing TVA’s implementation of risk-informed decision making. He also developed steps for evaluating project implementation impacts on TVA’s dam safety risk profile. Following the final stage of remediation, which demonstrated successful performance during reservoir refilling, an external independent review board recognized the project’s successful best practices as exemplary.


Chattanooga Sewage System Upgrades Will Stop River Contamination

Date: March 14, 2022

Chattanooga’s sewer and storm water systems are receiving infrastructure upgrades in an effort to reduce sanitary sewer overflows after heavy rainfall. The city’s old sewer system combined sewage and rainfall into one system, causing repeated overflow into the Tennessee River, according to Water and Wastes Digest.

The project, “Clear Chattanooga,” includes major upgrades and revisions to portions of the wastewater system including pipe rehabilitation, pump station improvements, and upgrades to the Moccasin Bend Environmental Campus.

Proposed Law Would Ban Blockage of Large Utility Projects by Municipalities
Last summer, Memphis did something rare: it cancelled a major oil pipeline project from a multi-billion-dollar corporation, according to a WPLN News report.

The decision was celebrated by some Memphis residents and denounced by the fossil fuel company behind the project. Now, Tennessee lawmakers have introduced legislation that would preempt local governments from blocking future projects.

Infrastructure Improvements Needed to Avoid Weather-Related Outages

Date: February 16, 2022

After a major ice storm knocked out power for more than 100,000 Memphis residents earlier this month, potential proactive solutions are being considered by various groups, according to an article in the Tennessee Lookout.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water primarily blamed downed tree branches for the outages and said it needs more resources to remove limbs throughout the city. An aging infrastructure is also blamed. MLGW's president said the utility has engaged with other city utilities on preparedness tactics to inform its infrastructure improvement plan. In a 2019 master plan, the Shelby County Office of Resilience recommended implementing a smart grid to mitigate power outages. However, cybersecurity risks and higher costs are stumbling blocks to such a solution.


$5.6 Billion Ford Plant Will Bring Construction Jobs, Development to West TN

Date: February 16, 2022

Engineering businesses could stand to benefit from Ford's Blue Oval City, the construction of which is expected to bring 3,000 workers on site each day by year's end, according to HTL Advantage President Mark Herbison, as quoted by commercialappeal.com. That number will likely increase to 8,000 workers a day in 2023, he said. HTL Advantage is an economic development coalition of three West Tennessee counties—Haywood, Tipton, and Lauderdale.

About 3,500 permanent jobs are expected to be created by the $5.6 billion Ford plant. Local and state officials believe that it could transform Western Tennessee. Other professions that could benefit from the project include architects, homebuilders, and trucking companies. Production at the facility is slated to begin in 2025.


NSPE Career Center

Date: February 16, 2022

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Mechanical Design Engineer

Minority Educational Institution Student Partnership Program
Oak Ridge, TN

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Infrastructure Plan Allocates Millions for Bridge Repairs in Tennessee

Date: January 19, 2022

Under President Biden's infrastructure plan that infuses $26.5 billion into bridge repair across the US, Tennessee will receive $302.1 million. The funds will come over five years via the Federal Highway Administration. Aside from making much-needed repairs, a major goal of the funding is to help bridges withstand the effects of climate change by modernizing them, FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.


Tennessee Wants to Incentivize Colleges to Graduate more STEM Students

Date: January 19, 2022

To meet demand for STEM and healthcare workers over the next decade, Tennessee may soon incentivize its community colleges and universities to recruit and graduate students in those fields, according to a Knoxville News Sentinel report.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is proposing a change to its funding formula that would give more money to colleges for students majoring in high-need academic fields. About a quarter of all associate degrees, a third of all bachelor degrees and over half of community college certificates would qualify for this premium, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The extra money will help community colleges and universities afford creating and supporting high-cost degrees like engineering and other STEM programs.