Obama Administration Funds $68M in Energy Efficiency and Solar; Announces Executive Actions

Sept. 19, 2014
The Obama administration has announced $68 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy awards and a series of executive actions to advance the resources further.

The Obama administration has announced $68 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy awards and a series of executive actions to advance the resources further.

The grants and loans will go to 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The funding comes from the USDA’s Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

A list of the projects is posted here, along with how much money each will receive.

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In addition to the USDA funds, the executive actions, as described by the White House on Sept. 18, include:

  • Building a Skilled Solar Workforce: To continue to build a skilled solar workforce, DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network is launching a veterans’ job training pilot project at up to three military bases this fall. The pilot project will connect a talented Veteran population with DOE’s extensive network of more than 400 community college-based solar training institutions. The network will assist at least 50,000 highly-qualified new solar installers to enter the industry by 2020.
  • Improving Appliance Efficiency: DOE is issuing a proposed energy efficiency conservation standard for commercial unitary air conditioners, which are commonly used for space conditioning in commercial and industrial buildings. If finalized as proposed, this standard will save 11.7 quads of energy over the lifetime of units shipped over 30 years. That is equivalent to more than half of all the residential energy used in one year, making this potentially the largest energy savings estimated for any efficiency standard issued by DOE to date.  If finalized, it would also help cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons, and could save consumers nearly $10 billion on their energy bills through 2030. This year, DOE has issued seven final energy conservation standards, and when combined with the final rules already issued under this Administration, they will get us more than two-thirds of the way to achieving the President’s goal of reducing carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030.
  • Strengthening Building Codes: In May 2014, DOE preliminarily affirmed that industry’s latest commercial building code – the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 – 2013 – provides more energy savings than the previous Standard. Today, DOE is issuing the final determination for this action. Additionally, DOE is issuing a preliminary determination that the latest residential building code – the 2015 IECC – provides at least the same energy savings as the 2012 version. The updated ANSI/ASHRAE/IES code will help states and the federal government save money and energy on building operations and cut emissions by 230 million metric tons of CO2 through 2030. Improved codes for residential and commercial buildings have already saved U.S. homes and businesses $44 billion on their energy bills, and today’s action builds off of this progress.
  • Federal Programs Supporting Clean Energy and Efficiency in Affordable Housing:The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Community Planning and Development (CDP) office is affirming that under current guidelines, Section 108 funding can be used for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. To support local communities in utilizing this and other funding, HUD is creating a renewable energy toolkit for use by Community Planning and Development grantees.  The toolkit will provide program compliance information, tools, and capacity to integrate renewable energy components such as solar photovoltaic, solar hot water, and cogeneration in an efficient, cost-effective, and impactful way by using CPD funds, such as the Community Development Block Grant Section 108 program.  The toolkit will be finalized and available for use in early 2015.
  • Prioritizing Energy Efficiency in Service Projects to Reduce Poverty: This month, the Corporation for National and Community Service will release their AmeriCorps VISTA Program Guidance, which directs the development of new VISTA projects and outlines the national programming priorities for the VISTA program for the fiscal year. For the first time, energy efficiency and climate resilience will be two of the factors used when selecting anti-poverty service projects in low-income communities.
  • Improving Access to Federal Resources: DOE is launching Solar Powering America, available at energy.gov, a one stop shop that will provide access to a wide range of federal resources to drive solar deployment. The website will also be used to highlight and track private sector commitments to install distributed solar.
  • Leveraging Financing Tools to Deploy Solar:The growth of solar has been fueled in part by access to innovative financing tools. Today, DOE is releasing an updated Guide to Federal Financing for Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Deployment. This guide will highlight financing programs located in various federal agencies, such as the Treasury, HUD, and USDA, which can be used for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.
  • Highlighting Progress on Solar in Schools: A SunShot Initiative partner, The Solar Foundation, is releasing a reportexploring how U.S. schools are choosing solar to lower their energy costs and lower their carbon footprint. The report found that thousands of schools already are cutting their energy bills by choosing solar – using savings to pay for teachers and textbooks – and estimates that more than 70,000 additional schools could do the same. In fact, in 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program honored more than 40 schools and districts across the nation for drastically reducing their energy use through conservation behaviors and the use of on-site renewables, including solar.
  • Releasing New Reports Showing the Declining Price of Solar: DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are releasing three new studiesshowing that the cost of solar energy continues to fall across all sectors, which indicates that initiatives targeting soft costs are starting to work. In 2013 alone, the installed price of commercial and residential solar declined by more than 12 percent.
  • Convening Key Players to Drive Investments in Solar:The White House will host a roundtable discussion in October on how to facilitate increased capital flows into the solar market through measures such as the collection of performance data and the standardization of contracts and risk assessment tools. The meeting will bring together senior advisors from the White House and DOE, solar developers, investors, ratings agencies, and other relevant experts.
  • Cutting Solar Soft Costs with Innovation: DOE’s SunShot Catalyst business plan competition is now open and accepting applications through November 7, 2014. This prize challenge makes it faster and easier for American innovators to launch cutting-edge solar companies, while tackling time-sensitive market challenges like soft costs. Learn more and submit your video pitch at catalyst.energy.gov.
  • Driving Federal Procurement of Solar: In April, the Administration launched a Capital Solar Challenge, directing federal agencies, military installations, and federally-subsidized complexes to identify opportunities to deploy solar energy at federal locations across the National Capital Region. As part of the Capital Solar Challenge’s private sector outreach, the General Services Administration (GSA) will host an Industry Day on October 23, in Washington D.C. to perform market research and answer developers and investors questions about GSA’s procurement approach. The GSA Contracting Officer and Leadership will be present to discuss the Agency’s strategy for deploying solar in the National Capital Region and for using solar to help meet federal renewable energy goals with industry.
  • Increasing Energy Productivity:Just yesterday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that DOE, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Alliance to Save Energy are teaming up to launch Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030, an initiative supporting the President’s goal to double U.S. energy productivity by 2030. Private sector, state, and local leaders can join energy productivity dialogues, endorse the goal, and share best practices for capturing the economic benefits of improved energy productivity. Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 will create a national roadmap to grow our economy while reducing our energy costs. Learn more at http://www.energy2030.org/.
About the Author

Kevin Normandeau | Publisher

Kevin is a veteran of the publishing industry having worked for brands like PC World, AOL, Network World, Data Center Knowledge and other business to business sites. He focuses on industry trends in the energy efficiency industry.

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