Save the Date! December 5-6: NHA Southeast Regional Meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee

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Save the Date! December 5-6: NHA Southeast Regional Meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee

DATE:

October 31, 2022

BY:

Jeremy Chase-Israel, Content Development Specialist, NHA, and Marycella Dumlao, Meeting Planner and Program Coordinator, NHA

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Save the Date! December 5-6: NHA Southeast Regional Meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee

NHA thanks our sponsors:

Kleinschmidt

The southeastern U.S. is the focus of the National Hydropower Association’s (NHA) final regional meeting of 2022. With the central location of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the event, which will take place December 5-6, is an occasion for hydro project owners, developers, service and product suppliers, and representatives from state and federal governments to come together to learn more about the potential for hydropower advancement in the region.

While NHA’s national events, Clean Currents and Waterpower Week, are well-known for their industry and policy agendas, the National Hydropower Association also runs numerous regional events throughout the year. This series of meetings provides opportunities for NHA member organizations in specific regions of the United States to network with one another, as well as those in, and affecting, the industry.

These meetings are available for any individual to attend (registration fees are required). In all cases, employees working for NHA member organizations are eligible for reduced registration rates.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SOUTHEAST MEETING

The Southeast Regional meeting is supported by 20 sponsors, and the event’s host utility is Tennessee Valley Authority. With significant development and innovation occurring across the southeastern U.S., attendees stand to learn more about critical energy storage projects like Rye Development’s proposed Lewis Ridge pumped-storage facility, which would represent a $1 billion investment into eastern Kentucky.

In addition to large-scale projects, the necessary work of upgrading, modifying, and repurposing hydroelectric projects and dams is alive and well across the Southeast. Appalachian Hydro Associates’ work with Berea College in Kentucky is emblematic of hydropower’s great community stories. In this instance, the college partnered with a local hydro project developer to add hydropower generating capacity at an existing lock and dam, providing Berea College with 2.64 MW of renewable power for its campus, making the school the first higher education institution in the United States to participate in the construction of such a plant.

Berea College’s Matilda Hamilton Fee hydropower project.

Attendees of NHA’s Southeast Regional Meeting will also have the opportunity to learn more about important environmental work project owners are undertaking across the Southeast, like Duke Energy’s investments in improving recreation areas in multiple states and assisting in conservation efforts to protect vulnerable wildlife in Florida.

With so much happening, the NHA Southeast Regional Meeting provides attendees with a curated agenda designed to address the big issues affecting the area, hear from speakers representing the industry’s top minds, and network with one another to develop deeper connections and find solutions.

LONG-DURATION ENERGY STORAGE DEVELOPMENTS

The world needs renewables. This sentiment is being championed by legislators, policy makers, industry leaders, and citizens, but the framework for achieving carbon zero is still in development.

Pumped-storage hydropower was the subject of the recent “Full Committee Hearing on Opportunities and Challenges in Deploying Innovative Battery and Non-Battery Technologies for Energy Storage” conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and it has received additional support by the Inflation Reduction Act through the expansion of tax credits. During the hearing, Senator John Barrasso (R – WY) commented on pumped storage:

“Wind and solar are weather dependent technologies. We are going to continue to add these technologies to the grid, and energy storage is going to be critical for maintaining electric reliability. It will require more affordable and longer duration storage technologies than we have right now. The only currently available long duration storage is pumped storage hydropower.”

Pumped-storage hydropower, which is being championed alongside batteries as an integral component in maximizing the benefits of other renewables via energy storage, is experiencing incredible investment in the Southern United States. Rye Development’s Lewis Ridge project represents a $1 billion investments, with the potential to provide 2,000 jobs during the multi-year build period.

The Lewis Ridge project in eastern Kentucky directly addresses the employment woes common in the rural South, where communities that once thrived off industries like coal mining have suffered.

Michael Gambrel, who is the general manager of an Asher Land coal mining site in Kentucky, commented on Rye’s proposed development:

“It’s important to note that as mining winds down, the community will need the construction and permanent jobs in the future. This will be a good thing, because the coal is almost gone from this property, and it will not be an idle property when we get this project permitted and constructed. It will be good for the community, the state, and the property owner.”

ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE

As the world reels from the effects of climate change, states across the southeastern U.S. are experiencing a range of impactful weather events, from floods to devastating hurricanes. Ben Heath, who is a water resource engineer for Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), discussed how eastern Tennessee has been affected by an increase in rainfall, and how the organization has responded:

“Normally, East Tennessee gets 51 inches of rain a year,” he said. “But from 2018 through 2020, the Tennessee Valley has had three of the wettest years on record. Eight of the last 10 years have been above normal rainfall. Five of the last ten years have been in the top 13 wettest.”

With a focus on flood damage reduction, Tennessee Valley Authority has made mitigating the potentially devastating effects of water a priority; in reference, Heath said:

“Since 2018 we prevented nearly $2.5 billion in flood damages to property and building structures. On average, each year we have averted $320 million in flood damages.”

When referencing the 1867 flood, which saw the river near Chattanooga rise nearly 58 feet, Heath said: “Chattanooga could not exist without the flood protection that TVA provides. TVA has prevented $8.1 billion in flood damages to date in Chattanooga.”

2022 has been an important year for Tennessee Valley Authority’s Boone Dam project, a hydro and flood control dam on the South Fork Holston River, which returned to normal operations after a complex, seven-year project to repair it after a sinkhole was discovered at the base of the embankment. At an event marking the project’s completion, Jeff Lyash, TVA’s president and chief executive officer, said:

“The Boone Dam project exemplifies all three aspects of TVA’s mission of service. Environmental stewardship by providing a beautiful recreational area for families to picnic, swim and relax this summer; economic development with a lake that helps communities in the Tri-Cities region prosper from fishing tournaments to boating activities and much more; and electricity that is clean, reliable and generated right here at the Boone Dam hydropower facility.”

TVA’s Boone Dam Project

BIG STEPS FOR SMALL HYDRO

Green energy projects are popping up across the South, and Jennifer Granholm, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, visited one in Tampa Bay, Florida, earlier this year. The project? A retrofit of the Hillsborough River Dam with two turbines, which will generate 839 kilowatt-hours of electricity and will power the city’s water treatment and wastewater treatment programs.

During the visit, Secretary Granholm commented on the potential benefit of adding electricity generation capacity to existing dams without a power component:

“There are about 90,000 dams across the country only three percent of them actually generate electricity. Fifty percent of them could, but only three percent of them do,” said Granholm, and she added, “The Biden administration is very much focused on this issue of cost and bringing down prices and one way of doing that is to make sure we have as much renewable clean energy on the grid as we possibly can.”

As project owners and operators look to follow suit, hydropower generating capacity upgrades, like the ones seen in Tampa Bay, offer great examples of the importance small hydro can play in achieving the clean electricity goals of the southeastern U.S.

Secretary Granholm speaks at site of Tampa Bay hydro project.

FIND OUT MORE

To learn more about NHA’s Southeast Regional Meeting taking place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, from December 5 – 6, click here.

If you have any questions about attending, please reach out to Marycella Dumlao, meeting planner and program coordinator, NHA.