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Make Orange GreenKNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, received the Presidential Award for making the largest purchase of green power from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 2011.

Gordie Bennett, UT’s sustainability manager, and Maria Rosales and Nick Alderson, undergraduate students majoring in environmental studies, accepted the award on behalf of the university at a ceremony on April 9 in Memphis. UT was one of several regional businesses and local power distributors recognized for driving the success of TVA’s Green Power Switch program.

The university purchased 9,000 megawatt hours of green power from TVA last year. That is the equivalent of eliminating the yearly greenhouse gas emissions from 1,535 passenger vehicles, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Green power purchases allow consumers to help ensure renewable energy from wind, solar, and landfill gas is added to TVA’s power supply.

TVA and local power companies, working in cooperation with the environmental community, developed Green Power Switch as a way to bring cleaner, greener power to the Tennessee Valley, explains Jenny Wright, product manager for TVA’s Green Power Switch.

“This program is successful only through the efforts of local distributors of TVA power and people and businesses who commit to making the region a little bit ‘greener’ each month,” said Patty West, TVA director of renewable energy programs.

UT’s commitment to environmental responsibility has been recognized by the Princeton Review and by the Sustainable Endowments Institute as one of the nation’s top campus sustainability programs.

Over the past seven years, campus has used funds from the student environmental fee to gradually increase the amount of green power it purchases.

For more information on UT’s sustainability initiatives, visit For more information on TVA’s Green Power Switch program, visit the TVA website.


Gordie Bennett (865-974-7780,

Jenny Wright (423-751-3046,