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Peace Corps to Tackle Grassroots Energy Issues

The Peace Corps announced late last month that the U.S. Department of State will provide $1 million to fund the program in support of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA). The money will help Peace Corps efforts that increase rural access to energy, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in Central and South American communities.

Under the partnership, Peace Corps volunteers will work with members of local communities to build infrastructure to support environmentally friendly energy and to educate communities on climate change and energy conservation. Volunteers will train host-country citizens to install, operate, and maintain energy-efficient technologies, including alternative fuels, biodigesters, solar water heaters, photovoltaic devices, solar and fuel-efficient stoves, and wind or mini hydroelectric power generation. These efforts will make clean energy more accessible to rural communities, reduce carbon emissions, and provide opportunities for individuals to generate income.

This is the most recent initiative for ECPA, which has expanded since President Obama invited all Western Hemisphere countries to join during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in April 2009. In spring, DOE announced a series of EPCA partnerships to address clean energy and energy security in the Western Hemisphere, including launching an Energy Innovation Center for Latin America and the Caribbean, developing biomass resources in Columbia, and cooperating with Argentina on clean energy technologies. The Peace Corps' initial ECPA-related efforts will be implemented in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Suriname. 

Kevin Eber is a senior science writer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In that capacity, he has promoted energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies for nearly 20 years.

This article was first published in the U.S. Department of Energy's EERE Network News and was reprinted with permission.


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