The recipient of a recent $20 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) has announced plans to use the money for a new program that will increase the energy efficiency of small and large residential, commercial and public buildings across the Southeast.
In its 2010 report, Energy Efficiency in the South (PDF), the SEEA found that implementation of aggressive energy-efficiency initiatives in the South could prevent energy consumption in RCI sectors from growing over the next twenty years, and that public and private investments in these policies would deliver rapid and substantial benefits to the region.
The SEEA will partner with communities to test and evaluate a variety of energy saving building models. So far, the organization has partnered with 15 cities to plan projects in eight southeastern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
“This large infusion of funding from DOE into the Southeast provides an unprecedented opportunity to promote energy efficiency and innovation while also creating jobs in this tough economy,” said SEEA Executive Director Ben Taube in a press release.
The DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, which is part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, was created to complement the Obama Administration’s Recovery through Retrofit (PDF) initiative, and catalyze a national energy upgrade model that could save $100 million in annual utility bills for households and businesses.
One of the provisions of the SEEA program, which will use a combined formula allocation and pay-for-performance strategy to choose specific projects, is to provide affordable, accessible financing programs for retrofitting buildings in both rural and urban settings.
Although critics have said that customers will be forced to pay higher utility bills if large-scale energy efficiency projects are pursued, the EPA maintains that total cost can decrease 2 to 9 percent over a 10-year period when retrofits are made in place of new infrastructure. As a result, decreased grid demand could exert downward pressure on market prices.
The city of Houston recently signed a contract worth $23 million to retrofit 19 city buildings and New York City recently announced plans to use TRIRIGA’s environmental sustainability software, TREES, to reduce the more than $800 spent on energy use in municipal buildings each year.
In total, the DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative has awarded over $45 million to 25 different communities across the county, allowing states to make important strides toward meeting the aggressive goal of the EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, which is to achieve all cost-effective energy efficiency by the year 2025.