On May 21, officials from the State of Tennessee unveiled new electric golf course equipment at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay Golf Course outside Chattanooga. Using funds provided by the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program, the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay replaced gasoline-powered golf course equipment with battery-powered options including greens and approach mowers, bunker rakes, greens rollers, and utility vehicles.
According to Jacobsen, the equipment includes seven Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 all-electric riding greens mowers. Superintendent Paul Carter and his team are using three of the ECLIPSE mowers to maintain greens and four to mow tees and surrounds.
Overall, officials expect the new electric equipment to provide an estimated 300% decrease in annual operating expenses and a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The electric equipment is virtually silent when it operates, minimizing noise that could disturb both golfers and wildlife. Additionally, there are no fluids to manage, such as hydraulic or other automotive fluids, reducing potential impacts to vegetation and ground water, while also reducing staff resources.
"This initiative is the first of its kind at a Tennessee State Parks golf course," said Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau.
Funding for the Harrison Bay project comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state (at approximately $5.25 million per year). As part of the grant program’s initial offering, a total of $5.3 million in Clean Energy Grants was awarded in 2012 to a variety of projects within state government, municipalities, utilities, state colleges, and universities and communities throughout the state.
According to TDEC’s Office of Sustainable Practices, the project has similar benefits as those touted for electric vehicles, further multiplied in the fact that lawn mowers and other small engines do not have the same pollution control measures required of larger pieces of equipment with internal combustion engines. The first EPA requirements for lawnmowers began in 1997 and much of the replaced equipment at Harrison Bay predated those pollution reduction measures.