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TVA Launches School Uplift, Investing $7.3 million in 160 Schools

May 17, 2021

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ­– Tight budgets and aging buildings have left many schools facing the difficult choice to fund learning programs or facility upgrades. A new program by the Tennessee Valley Authority will help 160 public schools in seven states solve that problem.

TVA is investing $7.3 million in a new School Uplift program over the next three years. School Uplift trains school personnel to reduce their schools’ energy use and save money. The state of Tennessee’s Energy Efficient Schools Initiative is partnering with TVA and has provided an initial $600,000 in matching funds.

“Every dollar invested in our schools helps districts allocate resources to where it matters most – educating our children – and we’re excited to bring School Uplift to our  schools,” said Cindy Herron, vice president of TVA’s EnergyRight program. “EnergyRight’s mission is to partner with local power companies to transform lives and communities with industry-leading energy services and programs. Helping schools save money on their energy costs and improve learning environments is an important investment in the Valley’s future.”

Eleven schools recently completed the School Uplift pilot, learning to save energy and competing to earn grants for building upgrades and solar pavilions.

The first schools to earn energy upgrade grants worth $400,000 each include:

  • Bledsoe County High School, Pikeville, Tenn.
  • Van Buren High School, Spencer, Tenn.
  • Pickett County K-8, Byrdstown, Tenn.

    On average, pilot schools have already saved nearly 20% on their annual energy bills from behavior changes alone. The energy upgrade grants will provide much needed facility upgrades with a focus on further reducing energy consumption and costs.

    Schools awarded TVA-funded grants for solar pavilions include:

  • Pine Haven Elementary, Jamestown, Tenn.
  • Pickett County High School, Byrdstown, Tenn.
  • South Fentress Elementary, Grimsley, Tenn.
  • Pikeville Elementary, Pikeville, Tenn.
  • Spencer Elementary School, Spencer, Tenn.

TVA is a leader in renewable energy, and the solar pavilions will function as outdoor classrooms while demonstrating solar power to a new generation of students.

“Tennessee has the best teachers in the nation, and we need our classrooms to match that standard to give students the best learning opportunity,” said Scott Slusher, EESI deputy director. “Making our schools more energy efficient will pay dividends for years to come.”

In 2008, the Tennessee General Assembly started EESI with $90 million. To date, over $102.5 million has been approved for projects that improve the energy efficiency in Tennessee’s public K-12 schools – saving schools more than $43 million in energy costs. TVA is now looking for additional state agency partners for matching funds.

TVA EnergyRight will be recruiting schools interested in participating in the 2022-2023 program. Visit for more information.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation. 


Scott Fiedler
Public Relations
[email protected]

Scott Slusher
Energy Efficient School Initiative Deputy Director
(615) 741-4366

TVA Media Line

Our media staff is available 24 hours a day. If you cannot reach the contact above, please call our media line at 865-632-6000.

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