Rebuilding Better

The wildfires of 2016 burned many Sevier County homes. But contractors are rebuilding better and smarter, thanks to TVA EnergyRight.

MAY 3, 2021 — “It looked like a bomb had exploded,” recalls lifelong Sevier County resident Johnnie Bryan. “Cars were sitting everywhere burned.” According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Great Smoky Mountains wildfire in late November 2016 destroyed nearly 2,500 homes and businesses and burned 18,000 acres, toppling power lines for miles.

As a builder and a contractor, Bryan has watched construction take off in the last couple of years as the area continues to recover. And homes are being built better and smarter thanks to TVA EnergyRight’s New Homes Program, he notes. An early adopter, Bryan was one of the first contractors to use the program, and has worked closely with his local power company, Sevier County Electric System (SCES) for several years and has worked build energy efficient, electrified homes.

The New Homes Program was created by TVA and local power companies in the 1970s (and redesigned in 2017) to offer a suite of new HVAC and water heating equipment incentives for home builders. (Watch the video above to learn more.)

Lucas Harkleroad, SCES programs administrator, credits the program for helping rebuild homes after the fire.

“That little extra incentive to go all electric is a big deal,” says Harkleroad.

Incentives are available for building all-electric single-family homes, and for retrofitting homes and duplexes. The incentives are offered for both single family homes and duplexes. To be eligible for incentives, homes must be built to prevailing local codes and have qualified equipment installed.

“There is value in having the New Homes Program, as builders are able to reinvest back into the communities and they also have the confidence that their homeowners will be able to take advantage of stable utility bills well into the future,” says Amy Edge, TVA general manager for Customer Delivery in the Northeast.

And that’s good news for those building new homes in Sevier County.