By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Energy is the second highest budget allocation for a city after labor costs, Warren Nevad of the Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (TREEDC) says.
That fact alone explains why the full-time Municipal Management Consultant for the University of Tennessee (UT) is so involved in the work of TREEDC and its upcoming first-ever “International Renewable Energy Conference.” The event is set October 12, 13 and 14 at Tennessee Technological University (TTU) in Cookeville.
The “international” tag is not an accident. TREEDC decided in 2012 to build global partnerships and selected the Philippines in early 2013 as its first target.
“We’re anticipating six to eight university officials and Mayors from the Philippines to attend the conference,” Nevad said. In addition to his consulting role with UT’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service, Nevad also serves as TREEDC’s Director.
From the fledgling organization established by four Tennessee Mayors in 2008, TREEDC has grown to a statewide association boasting 96 Tennessee city members and another 10 international communities. It even includes two out-of-state universities – Arkansas and Mississippi State – as members.
With its university connections, education is obviously a key priority for TREEDC. It is also helpful that the TREEDC Chair is Joe Johnson, President Emeritus of UT.
“We’ve held 20 forums since our founding,” Nevad explained. They are designed to help Mayors learn about new initiatives in other cities, available opportunities, and best practices in renewable energy.
“Our model can be easily replicated,” Nevad says. “Most green organizations are industry specific, whereas our focus is on leveraging the member cities. We’re promoting all of the renewables. We’re technology neutral.”
He describes another part of TREEDC’s function as a matchmaking service for cities and businesses.
“We get them to dance and how they do it is up to them,” Nevad says.
The upcoming conference takes TREEDC’s educational focus to a new level.
Anyone can attend the October event, Nevad says. The registration fee is $99 a person, and TREEDC hopes to attract 250 to 300 registrants. To register and learn more about sponsorship opportunities, click here.
Nevad promises an exciting three days. He’s particularly excited about Neil Petchers, who will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon on October 13. He is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NORESCO, an international energy services firm that has implemented energy infrastructure upgrade projects for government and private industry clients throughout the U.S. and as far away as Guam, Alaska, and Japan.
Other sessions on October 13 will include panels on topics such as international best practices, funding available for energy efficiency and renewable projects, compressed natural gas and propane; waste to energy projects in two West Tennessee cities; and net zero energy manufacturing.
The conference wraps-up after panels on the morning of October 14. For a complete program agenda, click here.