by Robert Gluck
In September U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced a new, whopping $450 million program designed to catalyze a nationwide energy upgrade.
Experts estimate the program could save $100 million annually in utility bills for households and businesses.
Dubbed The Recovery Act’s “Retrofit Ramp-Up”, the program pioneers innovative models for rolling out energy efficiency to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in a variety of communities.
Much like past roll-outs for cable TV or the Internet, the Department Of Energy (DOE) intends to create models that, when undertaken nationally, save consumers billions of dollars on their utility bills and make the huge savings of energy efficiency available to everyone.
According to Chu, energy efficiency isn’t just low-hanging fruit; it’s fruit lying on the ground.
“We have the tools to reduce energy use at home and at work and to provide huge savings to families and businesses on their energy bills.
But use of these technologies has been far too limited because we lack the simple and effective ways for people to access them,” said Chu.
Chu said the ‘Retrofit Ramp-Up’ program supports large-scale models that can open new energy efficiency opportunities to whole neighborhoods, towns, and, eventually, entire states.
The Recovery Act, the Secretary added, allows innovative communities to demonstrate a variety of sustainable business models that can be replicated across the country.
The Request For Information (RFI) issued in September is for competitively selected local energy efficiency projects.
This competitive portion of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program targets community-scale retrofit projects that make significant, long-term impacts on energy use and can serve as national role models for grassroot energy efficiency efforts.
According to the DOE, the agency is accepting feedback on both the competitively-selected portion of the EECBG program for up to $390 million for neighborhood-scale building retrofits, as well as up to $64 million for local governments that were not eligible to receive the formula grants announced earlier this year.
The EECBG program empowers local communities to make strategic investments to meet the nation’s long-term goals for energy independence and leadership on climate change.
In other words, more green jobs and better green jobs training.
This first topic area under the funding solicitation will target a select number of innovative programs that are structured to provide whole-neighborhood building energy retrofits.
These will be projects that demonstrate a sustainable business model for providing cost-effective energy upgrades for a large percentage of the residential, commercial, and public buildings in a specific community.
Possible approaches could include innovative partnerships between the public and private sector, utility retrofit and audit programs, alternative financing, retail partnerships, and others.
More green efforts could include LEED AP certification for homes and buildings and energy audits by certified professionals to obtain maximum benefits from the project.
The DOE will award up to $390 million for these projects
The second topic area for up to $64 million is reserved for cities, counties and state-recognized Indian tribes that were not eligible to receive population-based formula grant allocations from DOE under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.
These funds are intended to help expand local energy efficiency efforts and reduce energy use in the commercial, residential, transportation, manufacturing, or industrial sectors.
Chu said the aim of the ‘Retrofit Ramp-Up’ program is to jump-start an industry that makes energy efficiency savings easy to access and available to everyone.
“By encouraging partnerships between local governments and effective private enterprises, we hope tune-ups for buildings will become as accepted as tune-ups for cars.
These efforts will save Americans millions of dollars, reduce carbon pollution, and create new green jobs,” Chu concluded.
Well, we could do with as many green jobs as can be possibly created for the well-being of our planet and for greener future generations.