Bredesen Plans to Create State Energy Policy

By ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Phil Bredesen has announced plans to create a comprehensive energy policy for Tennessee.

Bredesen, a Democrat, said this week he will soon sign an executive order laying out the energy plan. The state will begin by addressing what the governor called the "low-hanging fruit" of finding ways to make its buildings and vehicle fleet more efficient.

Last weekend's National Governors Association meetings in Washington illustrated that there is far from a consensus on energy issues among the states, Bredesen said in a speech to the state Chamber of Commerce.

"It just reinforced the fact that this is one of those instances where Tennessee is best served by just rolling up our sleeves, getting to work and accomplishing some things," Bredesen said.

"We, as a state, can focus on driving innovation," he said. "The rest will sort itself out at the national and regional levels."

Bredesen said the field provides economic development opportunities and that Tennessee can position itself as a national leader if it gets working on the topic.

A common theme of conversations among the governors over the weekend was the need for large-scale alternative fuel production, Bredesen said.

"I am proud that Tennessee is leading the pack in the research of production of cellulosic energy, which has great promise in that regard," he said.

The University of Tennessee is working with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop ways to turning cellulosic materials like switchgrass and poplar trees into a competitive source of ethanol in five years.

The governor also cited Tennessee Valley Association head Tom Kilgore's work toward developing cleaner and more efficient power generation.

"And they're looking to support new innovation," Bredesen said.

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