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Energy Department Announces $5 Million for Energy Planning, Innovative Energy Practices, and Technical Assistance in 16 States

; Date: September 21, 2018

Tags: Department of Energy

To hear the rhetoric about the Trump Administration, they are gutting all environmental and renewable energy projects and we are headed back to the dark ages in government policies of all kinds. The reality is that the Dept of Energy is continuing to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency project, and the project funding announced here is an excellent example. This is a $5 million package of funding in three areas - "Energy Planning" at the state level, "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy" and other "Clean Energy Activities". I have no idea whether the funding level has decreased or not, just that the DoE is regularly making similar announcements to this, demonstrating that funding is not $0.

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $5 million in funding for 16 states to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and improve energy productivity. Through DOE’s State Energy Program (SEP), each of the 16 awardees will work to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy, grid resiliency, and improve energy reliability and affordability. Several of the SEP projects are multi-state partnerships, expanding the impact of these investments.

The projects fall under three categories:

State Energy Planning

  • DOE will fund approximately $1.6 million to assist four states - Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah - and Washington, D.C. to pursue comprehensive energy planning to enhance energy reliability, energy efficiency, grid modernization benefits, and other projects.

Innovative Opportunities for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Practices

  • DOE will fund approximately $3.2 million to assist 10 states - Alabama, Alaska, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. States will implement an array of projects aimed at enhancing the resilience of states and communities, including rural communities; enabling financing for public or private sector energy investment; deploying mechanisms to enhance access to building energy use information; and partnering with local governments and workforce development.

Technical Assistance to Advance Clean Energy Activities

  • DOE will fund approximately $275,000 to assist two states and one U.S. territory - New Jersey, Utah, and Guam - with providing technical assistance to expand the scope of existing work, including supporting energy efficiency in schools and advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy in low and moderate income communities. State-led projects will culminate in replicable actions that other states and local governments can adopt.

Since 2007, the (www.energy.gov) State Energy Program (SEP) has invested more than $77 million in 42 states through competitive awards to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that are consistent with national energy goals.

Learn more about the projects announced today (www.energy.gov) HERE.

The projects funded for this announcement

SEP awarded approximately $5 million to 16 states to advance innovative approaches for enhancing energy security, supporting state-led energy initiatives, and maximizing the benefits of decreasing energy waste.

Area of Interest 1: State Energy Planning

  • COLORADO (Colorado Energy Office) National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Rocky Mountain Institute
    • Amount: $300,000
    • Colorado will test new approaches to demand side management, demand response, and renewable energy integration in existing residential buildings that ensure customer affordability. Data and analysis from the project will be used to inform future state intervention in regulatory and utility demand side management and generation resource planning.
    • Potential Impacts/Goals:
      • Create a model for evaluating energy efficiency and renewable energy investments at a community scale (referred to as “energy districts”- interconnected buildings incorporating energy efficiency, distributed energy resource storage and controls) versus individual buildings/residences.
      • Address the growing challenge of traditional utility energy efficiency to meet cost-effectiveness thresholds due to current low cost of electricity in many areas.
      • Support market penetration of over 2.3 million existing residential households in CO, and beyond to the 118 million households in the United States
  • MINNESOTA (Minnesota Department of Commerce, State Energy Office) Michaels Energy; Environmental Initiative
    • Amount: $300,000
    • Minnesota will examine use of electrification as a tool for grid optimization and develop recommendations for policy makers, regulatory agencies, and utilities around three main focus areas: electrification regulation and policy, including evaluation of Minnesota’s 1.5% renewable portfolio standard; cold climate performance of electrification technologies in all sectors; and promoting grid modernization through increased deployment and use of electric vehicle infrastructure and the potential for new revenue models.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Identify more efficient technologies, such as heat pump water heaters and cold climate heat pumps, for the 12.5% of Minnesota households using propane or fuel oil for heating and the 66% of Minnesota households utilizing natural gas for heating, and reduce their energy costs.
  • NORTH CAROLINA (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality State Energy Office ) Duke Energy
    • Amount: $300,000
    • North Carolina will develop analyses and a stakeholder-driven roadmap to improve its integrated resource planning process to support high-value investments (including more non-wires technologies) that build grid resiliency, enhance reliability, and provide/maintain energy affordability.
    • Potential Impacts/Goals:
      • Compare economic costs and benefits from three different non-wire resiliency investment scenarios (baseline, low, and advanced) using a methodology to value resilience developed by Sandia National Laboratories.
      • Identify investments designed to save more than $10 billion in lost economic output from grid disruptions.
      • Create new metrics to better measure potential community benefits of resilience (such as, lost economic activity) and guide future investments.
      • Help it and 27 other states with integrated resource planning processes better incorporate risk of grid outages; all states will have access to a cost-benefit analyses of resilience investments.
  • UTAH (Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development) Colorado Energy Office; Idaho Office of Energy Resources; Montana Department of Environmental Quality; Energy Strategies, LLC
    • Amount: $539,234
    • Utah will use economic modeling to quantify the costs and benefits from potential formation of a western regional energy market (Western Regional Transmission Organization) and create evaluative frameworks.
    • Potential Impacts/Goals:
      • Convene all western states to provide perspectives on Regional Transmission Organization options.
      • Develop a framework for western states to assess the technical, governance, and public policy considerations of joining a regional energy market.
  • WASHINGTON, D.C. (DC Department of Energy and Environment)
    • $300,000
    • Washington D.C. will identify an electrification pathway that supports the District’s goal to reduce energy waste by 50% by 2032. D.C. will focus on neighborhood-based strategies for increasing load management, reducing peak demand, and saving energy.
    • Potential Impact/Goals:
      • Model load growth and distribution system impacts from electrification investments to align them with the energy waste reduction goal.
      • Focus strategies on vehicle electrification and charging infrastructure and electric heat pumps, with the latter targeting 10% of residential building owners.
      • Design a set of distributed energy resource -focused measures for neighborhoods with high demand. Solutions will inform other cities seeking to reduce demand in high-growth areas based on grid performance data for substations zones provided by PEPCO.

Area of Interest 2: Innovative Opportunities for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Practices

  • ALABAMA (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Energy Division) Smart Home America; National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO); Erin Deady Law
    • Amount: $249,608
    • Alabama will develop a turnkey Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program with standardized resources and guidance for local governments to implement C-PACE. Alabama’s PACE legislation allows for energy measures as well as resiliency improvements to mitigate flooding and withstand high winds, increasing energy affordability and resiliency. Alabama will provide extensive education and outreach to local governments, business and property owners, lenders, and insurers to ensure marketplace participants have a consistent knowledge base.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Increase in energy efficiency and energy resilience projects due to availability of financial mechanism.
      • Statewide C-PACE framework with stakeholder buy-in.
  • ALASKA (Alaska Energy Authority)
    • Amount: $300,000
    • Alaska will develop a unified approach to C-PACE that will accelerate time to market and prevent a piecemeal marketplace by creating uniform program parameters, establishing a statewide C-PACE administrator, and provide technical assistance to local governments. C-PACE will also assist in enhancing building resilience, including through use of distributed energy resources.
    • Project Impacts:
      • C-PACE initiated in three communities - efficiency savings estimated at $96 million annually.
      • Approximately 100 million sq. ft. in nearly 10,000 commercial buildings retrofitted.
  • MARYLAND (Maryland Energy Administration) partnering with VIRGINIA)
    • Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG); Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC); National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)
    • Amount: $430,400
    • Maryland will accelerate the conversion of streetlights by local governments to energy efficient LEDs. Maryland and Virginia will provide local governments with comprehensive technical assistance including utility negotiation support, technical resources, and procurement, financing, and implementation guidance.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • At least two utilities will have altered their tariff and fixture ownership structures (and Public Utility Commissions have approved modified tariff structure).
      • Five communities implementing conversions.
      • 18 million kWh saved annually.
      • $15 million invested.
      • 136 jobs created.
  • MISSOURI (Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Energy)
    • City of Rolla, Missouri; Missouri Public Utilities Alliance (MPUA); City of Stockton; St. James Winery; City of St. James
    • Amount: $285,000
    • Missouri will work with three cities to develop a resiliency roadmap for small and medium communities to better prepare for, withstand, and recover from disruptions. Missouri will assess this underserved market’s needs, develop a baseline, and identify best practices and technologies that communities can use in developing tailored resiliency plans.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • $3 million in savings from increased code compliance (11,445 MWh electricity, and 1,485,512 therms gas). (Missouri is a home rule state without a statewide code.)
      • Improved resiliency and reliability of local energy infrastructure and critical facilities through energy efficiency and distributed energy resource technologies, including combined heat and power.
  • NEW JERSEY (New Jersey Board of Public Utilities)
    • New Jersey Institute of Technology; Rutgers University
    • Amount: $299,996
    • New Jersey will address the significant lack of guidance on procuring and financing advanced community microgrids, which creates barriers to investment. The state will create a guide with information grounded in legal, economic and regulatory reality, outlining how to maximize economic and resiliency benefits of microgrids.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Develop 1,500 MW of distributed generation and combined heat and power resources where net economic and environmental benefits can be demonstrated, as part of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ 2011 Energy Plan.
      • Creation and dissemination of a Financing Advanced Microgrids Online Toolkit to provide robust, reality-based guidance to understand the process of procuring and financing advanced community microgrids.
  • NEW MEXICO (New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department)
    • Amount: $300,000
    • New Mexico will use systems dynamic modeling to evaluate a number of energy efficiency policy options and financial mechanisms to both assess their potential for energy and cost savings, and for creating revenue streams. The NM Financial Resiliency through Energy Efficiency (FREE) project will enable communities to implement and sustain a range of energy efficiency technologies best practices and will achieve:
      • Creation of a funding mechanism for private and public energy efficiency projects while creating a positive revenue stream for the State of New Mexico.
      • Projected annual energy savings of $138-$276 million.
      • The creation of financial models to implement goals of the New Mexico Energy Roadmap, published in 2018.
  • NEW YORK (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) Yale University; University of New Hampshire; Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
    • Amount: $276,039
    • New York seeks to develop a fully-functional data clearinghouse for renewable thermal (heating and cooling) technology performance. Renewable thermal technology includes solar thermal water heaters, biomass thermal (wood combustion), advanced biodiesel, and high efficiency heat pumps (both ground source and air source). The clearinghouse (called oTherm) will provide standardized performance data and enable quantitative validation of anticipated renewable thermal technology system performance, which will spur investment in these energy savings technologies.
    • Projected Savings:
      • 841,600 MMBTU annually.
      • 21,040,000 MMBTU over the lifetime.
      • $5.63 million customer bill savings annually.
      • $140.8 million customer bill savings over the lifetime.
  • RHODE ISLAND (Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources) partnering with WEST VIRGINIA and MASSACHUSETTS
    • Massachusetts Dept. of Energy Resources; West Virginia Office of Energy; National Grid; Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP); Energy Foundation
    • Amount: $500,000
    • Rhode Island will expand the use of enhanced building energy efficiency information policies for public buildings in 150 small, medium, and rural communities across nine states to expand their deployment of energy efficiency. The three partner states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and West Virginia) will develop a sustainable model for a shared energy manager, and provide automated and customized technical assistance through an online platform.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Municipal energy savings in buildings and transportation equivalent to 3,039 GWh/year.
      • Annual energy savings (value for all fuels) valued at over $79 million per year.
      • 150 small, medium, and rural communities across nine states engaged in reducing energy waste by 20% in public buildings and fleets.
  • WEST VIRGINIA (West Virginia Office of Energy)
    • WV Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE);
    • WV Department of Education Office of School Facilities and Transportation; West Virginia University; The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project
    • Amount: $300,000
    • West Virginia will inventory and benchmark approximately 1,500 public buildings into ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, and deploy a state policy requiring enhanced building energy efficiency information from state buildings by 2022. The project includes energy management training for facility managers and benchmarking training for university students and high school teachers and students.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Participation of 1,500 state facilities, 782
      • K-12 schools, and 36 institutions of higher education.
      • $3.26 million in potential cost savings.
      • Workforce development training for employees across local government, 36 universities, and K-12 teachers to support economic development.
  • WISCONSIN (Public Service Commission of Wisconsin)
    • Amount: $300,000
    • Wisconsin’s Statewide Assistance for Energy Resiliency and Reliability (SAFER2) aims to improve collaboration among state and local governments in energy emergency resiliency, mitigation and response plans. The project addresses a technical assistance needs gap for rural communities that lack financial and technical resources to support resiliency programs.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Improved efficacy of the State’s Energy Assurance Plan via ongoing collaboration with local governments, therefore improving statewide energy emergency resiliency, mitigation, and response.
      • Creation of a local energy resilience handbook.

Area of Interest 3: Technical Assistance to Advance SEP Formula Grant Clean Energy Activities

  • Guam (Guam Energy Office)
    • $75,000
    • Guam will conduct energy audits in K-12 schools, train school officials on creating energy management plans, and showcase results for replication.
    • Potential Impacts:
      • Established benchmarks for lighting, air cooling systems, water heaters, and plug loads.
      • Increased energy efficiency and lower consumption through outreach and education.
      • Standardized protocols for energy management throughout territory schools.
  • NEW JERSEY (New Jersey Board of Public Utilities)
    • Amount: $100,000
    • New Jersey will perform a feasibility and market analysis on electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and usage programs targeting low-income populations and multi-family dwellings. The project will:
      • Facilitate the installation of EV infrastructure at multifamily housing, where access to EV charging is non-existent.
      • Result in a plan for underserved communities to have greater access to EVs and its infrastructure.
  • UTAH (Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development)
    • Amount: $100,000
    • Utah will provide technical assistance to the City of Ogden to design a tailored energy efficiency and resiliency plan prioritizing low and moderate income communities. Utah’s work will inform the broadening of an existing activity to include energy efficiency and resiliency planning at the local government level.
    • Potential Impact:
      • A tested and replicable community-based program model for designing community level energy efficiency and resiliency plans.
      • Direct energy savings, particularly for low and moderate income households for the third most impoverished city in Utah.
      • Increased local government capacity to quantify and analyze the economic and environmental value of energy efficiency.
David Herron
David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.