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October 15, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Tennessee Tech, partners awarded $10 million by Appalachian Regional Commission

The project involves leading a four-state consortium focused on smart grid technologies.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded Tennessee Tech University (TTU) in Cookeville $10 million to lead a four-state consortium to help rural electric utilities and energy start-ups deploy smart grid technologies by providing grid modeling support.

It was one of four projects totaling $34.5 million that ARC announced as part of the latest round of funding under its Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) program which supports large-scale, regional economic transformation through multi-state, collaborative projects. According to the announcement, TTU and its partners are bringing $8,216,312 in matching funds to this project. The project will serve 468 businesses in 191 counties across Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia over the course of three years.

ARC noted that “providing grid modeling support will help remove barriers to deploying green, smart grid technologies such as electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations, wind farms, solar photovoltaic arrays, and battery storage. There is a need to support rural electric utility companies as they model when, where, and how to integrate smart grid technologies into their existing electric grids. Tech start-ups can leverage grid modeling services to test innovative hardware and software technologies for scalability and interoperability during product development and launch. Smart grid technologies will also support the growth of the “Battery Belt” in Appalachia and growth of data-driven energy innovation ecosystems in the region.”

Partners include West Virginia University; Pennsylvania State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specifically its Lincoln Lab; two of Launch Tennessee‘s network partners (The Biz Foundry in Cookeville and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center); and BRITE Energy Innovators.

Other awardees in the latest ARISE announcement are:

  • Catalyst Connection and its partners that were awarded $10 million for a project to harness the tools of 10 Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliates, plus the regional non-profit Reimagining Appalachia, to provide technical assistance and other support to small and medium manufacturers seeking to enter or expand into clean energy and green technology sectors. Its geographic focus is Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • The Industrial Commons and its partners that were also awarded $10 million to fund the construction of a 40,000-square-foot textile upcycling facility that will serve as a regional hub for textile circularity and connect entrepreneurs and brands to circular supply chains. The project is focused on North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
  • Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission and its partners that were awarded a little more than $4.5 million to engage youth within an eight-county region of the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York (the “Twin Tiers”) to increase career education, work experience opportunities, and positive employment outcomes.


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