Chattanooga shines on Green Power Night

Lookouts on cusp of Minors' first ever fully carbon-neutral game

Reliever Ryan Nutof models the Green Power jerseys that the Chattanooga Lookouts will wear for Friday's carbon-neutral game.

By Benjamin Hill / | August 22, 2019 10:50 AM

A Reds affiliate is going green.

The Chattanooga Lookouts, Cincinnati's Double-A farm club, are staging Green Power Night on Friday. In doing so, they'll become the first Minor League team to host a 100-percent carbon-neutral game. The Lookouts are commemorating the occasion by suiting up in green jerseys, a distinct deviation from their normal red and white color scheme.

Green Power Night is the result of a partnership between the Lookouts, EPB and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). EPB, previously known as the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, is a city-owned utility company; the TVA, federally owned, provides electricity for businesses and local power companies. On Friday, the Lookouts' home of AT&T Field will be powered via locally-generated solar energy credits. The solar energy comes from EPB's Solar Share, a community solar energy installation located on Chattanooga's Holtzclaw Avenue.

Friday's Lookouts game will be powered by EPB'S Solar Share, located in Chattanooga.

"The whole thing came about through [EPB and the TVA]. They're two great partners of ours," said Lookouts media relations director Dan Kopf. "We jumped at the opportunity. They wanted us to be the first team to be carbon neutral, and in Minor League Baseball you just love being the first. We dove in from Day One." 

Chris Niblock, TVA program manager, origination and renewables, said that the idea for Green Power Night came about over pizza. 

"I was new to the renewables team, and I reached out to our partners at EPB to find out what they were doing in the renewables space," he said. "So it started with pizza. We were making small talk, finding common ground, and talk turned to baseball. I'd heard of Major League teams with carbon-neutral games, but never heard about a Minor League team doing it. It was a cool opportunity to talk about Solar Share and what's available to the community. ... I met with [Lookouts president] Rich [Mozingo], and he was very enthusiastic."

MLB's first carbon-neutral game was staged by the Seattle Mariners in 2008, and various teams have followed suit over the ensuing 11 years. Niblock saw extending the concept to the Minor League level as a way to further educate the public about the options that may be available to them.

"People are becoming more and more interested about where their power is coming from," he said. "We need people to understand what programs are available, whether you're a renter, a homeowner or a run a small business. It can be scalable to whatever amount of renewable energy you're trying to achieve."

"Baseball binds us," added Scott Fiedler, part of TVA's public relations staff. "So if you have leaders in baseball and leaders in solar energy, why not bring those together?" 

When EPB's Solar Share program was first introduced, approximately two years ago, one of its taglines was, "You don't need a roof to make a difference." This is, of course, a crucial distinction for an open-air venue such as AT&T Field. As the Lookouts noted in their press release, the "community solar field on Holtzclaw Avenue will provide solar energy credits equivalent to the 2,500 kilowatt hours needed to power the Lookouts game and support operations. This solar energy is equivalent to 1.98 tons of carbon."

AT&T Field will host Minor League Baseball's first carbon-neutral game on Friday.

In essence, the Lookouts will purchase renewable energy certificates to offset the carbon used during Friday's game. This purchase, as Niblock explains it, "retires the certificate on behalf of the Lookouts." 

"It's like when you go to an arcade, playing Skee-Ball," he said. "You're racking up tickets, and as you get tickets you need to redeem them. The redemption of tickets is the redemption of renewable energy on the grid." 

In addition to the green on-field jerseys, Friday's game features a Green Power commemorative bat giveaway. Representatives from EPB and the TVA will be on hand, as well as congressman Chuck Fleischmann (whose district is based in Chattanooga). 

"[The Lookouts] have encouraged us to have the run of the stadium," said Niblock. "We're encouraging the fans to wear green, to green out the stadium for the first carbon-neutral game in Minor League history." 

"The Lookouts have been in the community since 1885," said Kopf. "We wanted to use our voice to show that baseball can be green. We want to show other teams, and other businesses, that you can do this and become more sustainable."

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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