U.S. EPA and DOE Join Forces with States to Spur Action on Energy Efficiency

U.S. EPA and DOE Join Forces with States to Spur Action on Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have formed an action group to help states achieve the maximum cost-effective energy efficiency improvements possible in offices, buildings, industries and homes by 2020.

The Obama administration announced the launch of the State Energy Efficiency (SEE) Action Network today.

The two lead agencies are to work with other organizations and participants -- which are to include representatives for state and local governments, business leaders, public utility commissioners and non-government organizations -- to help states carry out energy efficiency initiatives.

The new group is to convene in March. To guide its efforts, the group plans to work from the framework set by the "National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, Vision for 2025," which was laid out in 2006 -- except the SEE Action Network wants to achieve the goals five years ahead of time.

In working with states, the network is to provide technical assistance as well as help with specific policy and program issues to advance energy efficiency efforts. Those state efforts can include financing solutions, residential efficiency programs and improving availability of energy usage information, among other projects.

As to funding, the network's web page underscores the group's focus on efforts that will deliver:

"The U.S. Department of Energy will provide new funding opportunities to states that seek to create new results-based policies and programs that encourage energy efficiency," the passage about funding reads.

"Funding opportunities will encourage stakeholder collaboration within states, and regional coordination across states to invest in policies that will deliver energy efficiency savings, now and into the future."

The DOE and EPA said that 32 state public utility commissions requested help from the agencies last year regarding energy efficiency programs.

With support from the DOE, the National Governors Association is also trying to help states with their efficiency campaign.

In January, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices selected six states -- Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin -- to participate in the organization's Policy Academy on State Building Efficiency Retrofit Programs.

The academy, funded by the DOE, is designed to help states develop strategies and action plans to improve the energy efficiency of existing building and reduce costs and emissions.

The selection criteria for states applying to the program included their articulation of:

  • A clearly defined problem
  • Preliminary goals and desired outcome
  • Relationship to other state objectives
  • The Breadth, depth, and influence of proposed state team
  • Data capacity

"Most energy efficiency efforts have focused on new construction or the low-income sector only, often ignoring the substantial energy savings available by retrofitting existing buildings," NGA Center Director John Thomasian said in a prepared statement. "This Policy Academy will help states realize energy savings across the board, through comprehensive building retrofits programs."

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Frank Bonilla Abstracts.tv