Mayor David Briley has announced grant funding to support a new green jobs component to NES Home Energy Uplift (HEU), a weatherization program for limited-income homeowners in Davidson County.
The Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF) will invest $300,000 to establish a green jobs training program at Nashville Career Advancement Center (NCAC). NCAC will prepare available workforce to perform energy-retrofit installations and water efficiency measures, provide nationally accredited certifications upon completion of this training, and connect participants to jobs created by HEU.
HEU provides limited-income homeowners in Davidson County with whole-home, deep-energy retrofits (a process that produces large energy savings) valued at up to $8,000, lowering household utility costs while improving residents’ health, comfort, and quality-of-life.
NCAC’s Green Jobs Initiative will address HEU’s pressing need for labor talent, namely retrofit technicians, with a focus on connecting low-income or unemployed/under-employed Nashvillians to training and career pathways in the energy-efficiency sector. TVA is also advancing a statewide approach for minority-business contracting around weatherization work, in partnership with local power companies and Tennessee Urban League Affiliates.
“I am grateful to SSCF for helping Nashville launch a green jobs component to HEU. This will provide the people who need it most in our city the training required to access opportunity in a growing field,” said Briley. “Energy-efficiency programs like HEU save money, improve health, lower carbon emissions, and grow the local economy.”
HEU has so far retrofitted 77 homes in Nashville, resulting in annual utility-bill savings of $486 per home (4,865 kWh of electricity per home, per year). TVA committed $1 million to launch the program this spring, with the support of NES and in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office.
“Our goal is to help individuals get on a sustainable career pathway while performing HEU energy audits and retrofits in the neighborhoods in which they live,” said Patrick Combs, executive director of the Nashville Career Advancement Center. “SSCF’s investment helps us address a significant local workforce shortage in a trade that makes Nashville greener, healthier, and more affordable.”
Energy upgrades provided by HEU may include weatherization, air sealing, high-efficiency heat pumps and air conditioners, ENERGY STAR windows, crawl space and attic insulation, heat pump water heaters, whole-house ventilation and more. These retrofits require skilled local labor (in many cases from small, local businesses) that cannot be outsourced.
Metro Council members Brenda Haywood and Freddie O’Connell have also recently filed a non-binding resolution encouraging the NES Electric Power Board to generate additional participation in its ‘Round It Up’ donation program to help further underwrite Home Energy Uplift so more limited-income homeowners in Nashville can be served. The program allows customers to voluntarily agree to “round up” their monthly utility bills to the next whole dollar, with resulting charitable donations averaging approximately 50 cents per month.
“Working with our partners at TVA, MDHA, and the Mayor’s Office, less than a year into our pilot we’re seeing a substantial demand for the retrofits provided by NES Home Energy Uplift,” said DeCosta Jenkins, president/CEO of Nashville Electric Service. “We welcome any additional resources to help us serve more families and more seniors, so they can stay in their homes, live healthier and more comfortably while putting people to work in good jobs.”
Low-income residents in the Southeast face some of the highest energy burdens in the nation. In addition to allocating a larger portion of their income to utilities, energy burdens are associated with long-term health effects, systemic economic adversity, housing displacement, and stress.
According to Metro’s 2016 greenhouse-gas emissions inventory, the residential building sector generated 22% of the city’s carbon-dioxide pollution, a major cause of climate change.
Davidson County homeowners may be eligible for NES Home Energy Uplift if they meet income restrictions, and if their primary heating and cooling source is electric.