Thursday, January 13, 2011

Breaking down barriers to efficiency

With all of the focus on developing new energy sources to reduce American dependence on finite foreign fossil fuels it’s easy to forget that there is an easy, inexpensive, emissions-free way to increase energy availability: energy efficiency. The beauty of efficiency is that on some level we all have individual control over it; anyone who has saved money by turning down their heater thermostat can attest to this. On a national scale, it is estimated that the US could reduce energy consumption by 23% across all sectors by implementing a comprehensive efficiency strategy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

CEEP legislative report highlights CEC and similar programs

A report on Community Energy Efficiency Pilot (CEEP) programs released last month by the Washington State University (WSU) Extension highlights the efforts of the Community Energy Challenge and seven other Washington State energy efficiency programs to develop innovative ways to provide services to their communities. All of the programs highlighted in the report received grants administered by WSU and funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) with the mandate to "develop and implement pilot programs providing community-wide urban residential and commercial energy efficiency upgrades."

The legislature set forth the following goals for participating programs:

– Increase public outreach on energy efficiency.
– Grow the retrofit industry and workforce with family-wage jobs.
– Expand delivery of energy efficiency services and incentives to those immediately above low-income thresholds.
– Test whole neighborhood approaches and other innovative approaches.
– Provide creative energy efficiency financing options.

The Community Energy Challenge is highlighted for creating local jobs and the report includes a quote from a participating contractor who said "I would likely not be in business without the Community Energy Challenge." Another quoted contractor credits the work generated by the CEC with allowing him to hire two new employees. The report also mentions North Fork Brewery, a local business that has saved an average of 7.5 percent of their energy costs with recommendations made by the CEC and is in the process of installing solar panels.

Other pilot programs include City of Ellensburg, Clark Public Utilities, Puget Sound Energy & UCONS L.L.C., Snohomish County Public Utility District, Sustainable Living Center, SustainableWorks, and Thurston County Economic Development Council.