Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Energy Efficiency in Southeast to Get Huge Boost, Thanks to $20 Million U.S. DOE Award to SEEA Regional Alliance

/PRNewswire/ -- Energy Efficiency in the Southeastern United States will get a huge boost when the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) rolls out its program of innovative, large-scale building retrofits for homeowners and businesses under its recently-announced $20 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative.

The regional organization will partner with nearly a dozen communities of varying sizes and characteristics, each of which will use a different approach to increase the energy efficiency of small and large residential, commercial and public buildings. This diversity will allow SEEA to test and evaluate a variety of models in both smaller, more rural and larger, more metropolitan areas and make adjustments as needed. Another key aspect of the program, which will use a combined formula allocation and a pay-for-performance strategy to fund specific projects, will be the availability of affordable, accessible financing programs.

"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. "SEEA is looking forward to working with our various community partners across the region as we go forward and transform the market."

The Southeast Community Retrofit Ramp-up Consortium will partner with cities in eight southeastern states - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia - and with the U.S. Virgin Islands to dramatically increase the effectiveness of building retrofits across the region. SEEA's community partners include Huntsville, Ala., Celebration, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta, Ga.; Decatur, Ga.; New Orleans, La.; Carrboro, N.C.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Nashville, Tenn., Woodbury, Tenn.; Albemarle County, Va.; Charlottesville, Va.; and Hampton Roads Planning District, Va.

"News of the DOE award comes at a great time for us, as Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle have worked hard to help support our community-based local energy alliance program (LEAP), an energy efficiency program for residents and businesses," said Charlottesville Mayor David Norris. "We look forward to the economic stimulus and job creation energy efficiency can bring our community - as well as dollar savings for the utility bill payer."

"We are delighted to be a part of the SEEA coalition. Energy efficiency and water conservation are priorities for the City of Atlanta," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. "This program will allow us to meaningfully deliver programs to help our residents and business owners reduce their energy and water use."

SEEA's community partners have been planning and organizing for this opportunity since February 2009, when SEEA challenged cities to make extraordinary commitments to energy efficiency programming and infrastructure with a $500,000 competitive solicitation and award. Fifteen communities from six states tendered applications, based on hundreds of hours of partnership-building, meetings, planning, research and negotiations with utilities and city councils.

"SEEA is pleased to be the organizer of the consortium of communities and an active leader in making the Southeast more energy efficient," said SEEA Board Chair Kate Offringa, president and CEO of the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA). "This initiative will help the region overcome some of the barriers that have prevented energy efficiency from really taking hold in the Southeast - namely lack of financing and the need for a program structure that addresses the uniqueness of the region."

SEEA intends to start this program in early June. More information on the SEEA program can be found at http://www.seealliance.org/programs/cities.php.

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