Federal Resources for Community Energy
U.S. government is making great strides in implementing programs that encourage
more efficient use of energy as a means of reducing negative environmental impacts,
conserving resources, and reducing pollution.
DOE’s energy efficiency
and renewable energy programs, for example, are estimated to save some $17 billion
in residential energy costs by 2005, $12.5 billion in commercial energy costs,
and $5.8 billion in industrial energy costs. Federal energy programs will save
taxpayers some $400 million by 2005.
DOE will work expand the use of wind power
in the United States, and sees significant potential in areas with wind speeds
that are too low to tap economically with today's wind turbinesareas with
average annual wind speeds of about 13 miles per hour. To allow wind power projects
in these areas, DOE is establishing 21 partnerships with public and private entities
to develop low-wind-speed wind turbines. The program includes conceptual design
studies and the development of both turbine components and complete wind turbines,
and DOE expects the total investment in the partnerships to total $60 million
over the next four years. The wind energy resources that DOE intends to capture
through the new partnerships are currently considered "marginal" or
"poor" wind resources. Harvesting wind power from these sites will open
up much of the United States to wind power, excluding only the Southeast. See
the press release.
DOE and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
(OPIC), a development agency of the U.S. government, signed an agreement in September
2004 acknowledging their partnership to promote investment in cleaner, more efficient
energy technologies in emerging markets throughout the world. Under the agreement,
both agencies will work to create an Efficient Energy and Renewables Program,
focused on innovative financing and creative partnerships that will lead to environmentally
sound economic growth in developing countries throughout the world. Read
the press release.
The U.S. is joining forces with other countries
to encourage energy efficiency and renewables, as well. For example, Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham joined China's Science and Technology Minister Xu and Beijing's
Vice Mayor Fan in January 2004 to sign the Green
Olympic Protocol for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. DOE and China
signed a Statement of Intent on Green Olympics cooperation in September 2002,
and since then the two countries have established 11 teams to move forward on
the agreement. Two joint working group meetings were successfully held in Beijing
in 2002 and 2003, leading to new proposals for cooperation. The new protocol transforms
the Statement of Intent into a legally binding international agreement.
and Philippine Secretary of Energy Vincente Perez also signed a memorandum
of understanding in January 2004 to strengthen the Sustainable Energy
Development Program between the two countries and to promote the use of cleaner-burning
fuels in vehicles. The Sustainable Energy Development Program is a $5 million
project sponsored by DOE, the Philippines Department of Energy, and the U.S. Agency
for International Development (USAID). It includes efforts to develop a renewable
energy bill for the Philippines and to expand the use of cleaner alternative fuels
such as natural gas.
And, the U.S. and Russia have signed a new Protocol
on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The protocol provides a framework
and establishes a coordinating committee for the two countries to work together
on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
DOE announced the launch
of a new effort to educate state and local government officials about the vision
of a hydrogen economy in February 2004. Called "Hydrogen
Power: The Promise, The Challenge," the effort will involve workshops
in six U.S. cities, kicking off in Lansing, Michigan, on March 23, 2004
July 2003, DOE kicked off its new "Smart Energy Campaign" to educate
businesses, homeowners, and consumers on ways they can cut energy bills. The Smart
Energy Campaign emphasizes DOE's new Energy
Savers website and features a series of public service announcements and
a four-city Smart Energy Tour led by Secretary Abraham.
The White House has
awarded the Presidential Awards for Leadership in Federal Energy Management to
energy-saving teams at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force last week. The teams implemented
measures that will save the federal government about 1.3 trillion Btu (British
thermal units) of energy each year -- more energy than is used by 13,000 typical
U.S. homes. Read the press
The following programs represent some federal
resources your community might tap into when designing an energy program:
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy has many programs in place that provide technical
and other forms of assistance to encourage the efficient use of energy across
all sectors. Among them:
America focuses on energy-efficiency solutions as community solutions.
Rebuild America helps communities across the country sort though an often overwhelming
array of options for building improvements and develop and implement an Action
Plan that meet their needs. Working on a local level, Rebuild America helps community
organizations access innovative technologies, industry services, customized assistance,
and a variety of business and technical tools needed to perform energy retrofit
on buildings. The program focuses on five building sectors: K-12 Schools, Colleges
and Universities, State and Local governments, Public and Multi-family Housing,
and Commercial Buildings. Its Community
Energy page identifies useful resources to help design and implement a
successful community energy program.
of Building Technology, State, and Community Programs. This program aims
to provide technical leadership, promote energy efficiency, and stimulate collaborative
activities to make U.S. buildings more efficient, comfortable, affordable, and
sustainable. The goal of its Web site is to provide users with information about
advanced building technology systems and partnership opportunities that promote
energy efficiency and pollution prevention.
Energy Management (FEMP). FEMP’s mission is to reduce the cost of government
by advancing energy efficiency, water conservation, and the use of solar and other
renewable energy sources. This mission is accomplished by creating partnerships,
leveraging resources, transferring technology, and providing training and support.
Savers. A new website that offers tips on saving energy and money at home.
Technologies Program. Works in partnership with U.S. industry to develop
and deliver advanced technologies that increase energy efficiency, improve environmental
performance, and boost productivity. Programs include:
Practices. Works with industry to identify plant-wide opportunities for
energy savings and process efficiency.
Assessment Centers. Sponsors industrial assessments for small- and medium-sized
manufacturers at no cost. Recommendations from these assessments have averaged
$55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer.
A cost-sharing program to promote energy efficiency, clean production, and economic
competitiveness in industry. NICE3 provides funding to state and industry partnerships
(large and small business) for projects that develop and demonstrate advances
in energy efficiency and clean production technologies.
of Power Technologies. Its mission is to develop clean, competitive power
technologies for the 21st century, including renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal,
and biomass), energy storage, hydrogen, and superconductors. Much information
on these topics can be found at this website.
Energy Program. Advances decentralized energy technologies that offer
a solution to many of the nation's most pressing energy issues, including blackouts.
The program focuses on a range of distributed energy technologies, such as microturbines,
as well as integrating the technologies into systems for a variety of users.
Energy Technologies Program.
Works to develops solar energy technologies to provide power that is clean, reliable,
$avings. DOE and the Alliance to Save Energy launched this new public
education and awareness campaign in May 2004. The campaign will provide consumers
with the information and tools necessary to make smart energy choices a part of
their daily lives.
Sustainable Development Initiative, announced by the Bush Administration
in August 2002, is a joint effort of the Agency for International Development,
the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. These partners
"will coordinate their resources and expertise to provide new access to energy
services, help save money and reduce waste by increasing the efficiency of energy
use, and significantly reduce readily preventable deaths associated with indoor
and outdoor air pollution by changing vehicle and domestic energy use patterns."
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL) is a DOE-operated national laboratory whose mission is to develop
renewable energy technologies and transfer them to the private sector. NREL’s
staff is internationally recognized and respected for its work in photovoltaics,
wind, biofuels, and building energy efficiency. NREL’s Web site offers much useful
information, including a database of all NREL-produced publications, an on-line
photo library, articles explaining energy technologies and energy solutions, and
links to other energy resources.
DOE launched a national public service advertising
campaign in March 2004 designed to make children and their parents aware of energy
efficient behavior. The campaign features a reprehensible new villainthe
energy-wasting Energy Hogand includes public service announcements on television,
radio, and the Internet. The centerpiece of the campaign is the new Energy
Hog website, which is aimed at children, but also includes resources for
parents and teachers, as well as Internet versions of the Energy Hog ads. The
Web site's main attractions are the Energy Hog Training Camp and its five training
games, where children can train to become Energy Hog Busters and learn fun and
simple ways to use energy more efficiently.
Manufacturing Initiative, known as PVMat, has a goal to improve photovoltaic
manufacturing processes and products, while reducing manufacturing costs and developing
technologies that support large-scale manufacturing of solar cells.
National Laboratories and Boeing Company announced an agrreement in September
2002 to develop technologies that mutually benefit both. The initial tasks will
deal with concentrating solar power technology. The project objective is to establish
a Boeing-Sandia partnership that will combine the strengths of each organization
to make Concentrating
Solar Power (CPS) a success. This relationship will include a broad range
of CSP technologies, including power towers, dish engine systems, solar troughs
and concentrated photovoltaics. The project will focus on the development of key
demonstrations, risk-reduction testing and economic/system analyses.
announced in November 2004 that it will work with Stirling Energy Systems, Inc.
(SES) to build a 150-kilowatt
solar thermal power plant at its National Solar Thermal Test Facility
in Albuquerque, New Mexico. By January 2005, Sandia and SES staff will construct
five prototype dish-Stirling systems at the facility to complement a system installed
earlier this year. Sandia and SES will use the six-dish installation to improve
the reliability and performance of the dish-Stirling systems while determining
how best they can be integrated to form a large solar power plant. Although each
prototype system now costs about $150,000, SES estimates that a production unit
would cost less than $50,000, which would make it cost-competitive with conventional
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Environmental
Energy Technologies Division conducts multidisciplinary research on energy
and environmental topics to advance the efficient, environmentally acceptable
use of energy.
Bioproducts Research Institute is a new collaboration for the production
of energy and industrial products from biomass resources. Formed in 2002, the
institute combines the talents of DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
(PNNL), DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Washington
State University, and the University of Idaho. Using their existing laboratory
facilities, they will examine and develop methods for converting agricultural
and food processing residue and wastes into bio-based fuels, power and industrial
Guide to Buying a Solar Electric System is a DOE guide produced by the
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It offers an overview of the ins and outs
of purchasing a photovoltaic system for home or business use. Arranged in an easy-to-use
question and answer format, the guide covers everything from PV basics to acquiring
a net metering agreement.
Star programs focus on assisting consumers, businesses, and industry with
saving money and thus reducing pollution. There are several different Energy Star
programs, each with a different focus. For example, the Energy Star Homes Program
assists new home builders in developing energy-efficient homes and identifies
financing opportunities for new home buyers. The Energy Star Office Equipment
Program helps promote the manufacture and purchase of more energy-efficient office
equipment. The Energy Star Small Business Program helps businesses considering
energy-efficient upgrades of their business equipment and facility systems. The
Energy Star programs are voluntary, and participating partners have access to
a variety of assistance to help them reduce energy consumption and operating costs.
Announced in spring 2004, Energy Star also is allowing new commercial building
designs to earn an Energy Star label. If an architecture firm designs a commercial
building that is expected to earn the Energy Star label once it is built, that
firm can apply for permission to use the new "Designed
to Earn the Energy Star" label.
As well, Energy Star in summer
2004 launched a new multi-year campaign to encourage people to save energy in
their homes. The campaign lists five
easy steps for saving energy: changing your five most-used lights with
lights that carry the Energy Star label, buying appliances and other products
labeled with the Energy Star, being energy-efficient when heating and cooling
your home, sealing and insulating your home, and spreading the word to your friends
and family. The campaign features public service announcements on television and
radio and in the print media. See the Energy Star campaign Web page, which includes
links to the EPA press release, an Energy Star Action Guide, and the public service
announcements for television.
In 2003 alone, Americans, with the help
of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to power 20 million homes and avoid greenhouse
gas emissions equivalent to those from 18 million cars--all while saving $9 billion.
DOE and EPA presented the 2004
Energy Star Award Winners in March 2004. The awards highlight the efforts
of leading manufacturers, retailers, utility companies, and a variety of state
and regional programs that promote energy efficiency and awareness of the Energy
Presidential Energy and Environmental Awards
Six federal teams were
honored for their renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts include DOE's
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Environmental Protection Agency's Green
Power Purchase Program, the Air Force Renewable Energy Team, and energy management
teams from the Marine Corps, the New England Region of the General Services Administration,
and the Department of Health and Human Services. Together, the six teams helped
save 1.8 trillion Btu per year.
Power Parnership is another program administered by the EPA that encourages
companies to buy green power. Companies that commit to buying green power will
gain technical support and public recognition from EPA by joining the partnership.
The USDA's High
Energy Cost Grant Program provides grants for improvement of energy generation,
transmission, and distribution facilities serving communities with extremely high
DOE, USDA, and the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) will
all work together to encourage the use of woody biomass products as a source of
energy. Secretaries Abraham, Veneman, and Norton signed a memorandum of understanding
that establishes consistent policies and procedures across the three agencies
to support the use of woody byproducts from forest thinning and other land management
practices. The agencies agreed to explore opportunities to create a reliable,
sustainable supply of woody biomass and to encourage the formation of stable markets
for converting that biomass supply into energy. The agencies will also support
Indian Tribes that wish to make use of their woody biomass resources. Read
the press release.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) signed an agreement
with rural electric cooperatives in Fall 2003 to increase the use of renewable
energy and energy efficiency in rural areas by removing technical and market barriers.
The USDA signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Rural Electric
Cooperative Association to identify cost-effective, voluntary opportunities for
rural electric cooperatives to partner with farmers and ranchers to reduce greenhouse
gases. The agreement includes the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency,
fuel cells, microturbines, and biobased products. The agreement identifies areas
for public-private cooperation in research, standards development, and education.
updated: February 3, 2005
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