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The Tennessee Valley Authority hopes to expand the number of businesses and workers making homes more energy efficient, especially among minority-owned contractors, through a new Urban League program that the Chattanooga chapter is launching next week.

TVA chose Tennessee's Urban League Affiliates to develop the pilot program in preparation for an even bigger program in fiscal 2020. Vicky Bone, an energy consultant hired to develop the program at the Chattanooga Urban League, said Tuesday that she hopes to attract at least 20 contractors and even more workers interested in being included in TVA's quality certified network of contractors in Chattanooga. Similar programs are planned through the Urban League chapters in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville.

"As we have met with local power companies across Tennessee, they have all indicated there is a shortage of contractors and workers doing this type of work and we hope we can expand the pool of businesses and workers, especially among minority-owned companies that remain underrepresented in the construction and remodeling fields," Boone said.

TVA distributors such as EPB in Chattanooga conduct eScore energy audits to help individuals and businesses identify cost-effective energy efficiency measures they might implement . Local power companies also operate energy efficiency programs in low-income neighborhoods such as EPB's Home Energy Upgrade program, which have used TVA grants to make energy upgrades in more than 250 homes over the past four years.

How to participate

The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga will conduct informational recruitment sessions about the minority contractor and worker training from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on August 6, 7, and 8 at the 730 M.L. King Boulevard. The training for contractors will be conducted at the Urban League on August 16 and 17 and for employees on August 22-24. More information is available at 423-756-1762

The new Urban League program will teach minority contractors and employees how to properly weatherize homes, reducing residents' total energy expenditures while improving their health and safety. Boone said such skills are in demand and the median pay for workers training in such fields is about $16 an hour.

The training program is open to any business that has been in operation for at least a year and has a valid business license. The training includes both business skill development through LaunchTN programs such as Co.Lab. in Chattanooga and hands-on skills training in air sealing, attic insulation and duct sealing offered through green/spaces in Chattanooga.

"This partnership will create a multi-skilled workforce while helping some of the most vulnerable families in our community. It's a win-win," said Warren E. Logan, Jr., president of Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, which is overseeing the program among the four major Urban League chapters in Tennessee.

Frank Rapley, TVA's senior manager of EnergyRight Solutions, said "the spirit of innovation in Chattanooga makes it the perfect place" to launch the new training initiative for minority contractors and workers.

"We are confident that this partnership will allow Tennessee's workforce to continue to grow while addressing the needs of our community," he said.

The pilot program over the next couple of months is expected to be expanded across the TVA region in 2020 and also include training in HVAC services.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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