DOE Helps States Foster Gigawatt-level Renewable Energy Developments

With no federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in place and the status of the federal renewable energy tax credits in flux, states are leading the way towards implementing frameworks for the development of renewables. This week the U.S. government took a step forward in helping nine states foster the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced which states were awarded a total of US $4 million in grant money for renewable energy policies and projects. The DOE’s grants were awarded to states that had plans to produce policy and regulatory framework that encourages utility-scale renewable-energy development and energy-efficiency developments.

US $2.6 million in grant money was also given to states with plans to implement advanced building codes.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, David Rodgers commented on the awards, “Our goal is to spur the greatest possible gains in energy efficiency or renewable energy for each dollar spent.”

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and Office of Electricity Delivery and Electric Reliability selected nine state projects that create and implement a policy and regulatory framework that would enable gigawatt-scale clean energy capacity, whether through renewable energy or demand side reductions.

While no cost share was required to win, state partners will contribute up to US $1.8 million for the projects, which range from regional protocols to evaluate, measure, verify and report demand-side resource impacts to reports addressing key barriers and incentives for building transmission for renewable energy.

“These projects will stimulate innovative state policy activities and investments to help transform markets for energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Rodgers.

The grants are intended to help states develop innovative legislation, policies, programs and strategies that accelerated investments in renewable energy or energy efficiency.

The state of Arizona was awarded US $500,000 to create a program that will help homeowners in five cities make energy-efficiency improvements through improved weatherization. Colorado will develop a report that addresses barriers and incentives for building transmission capacity for renewable energy through its US $397,000 grant. The report will include a set of policy recommendations to address permitting, siting and related environmental issues that represent major barriers to the development of renewable energy and transmission expansion within the region.

Georgia was awarded approximately US $250,000 to build on its ongoing activities to create infrastructure that will enable itself plus neighboring South Carolina and North Carolina to integrate clean energy into their electricity mix.

Hawaii was awarded US $500,000 to develop policy framework that will support creating the grid infrastructure necessary to bring renewable electricity to the Island of Oahu, where over 80% of the population lives. The state intends to look at demand site management, electrical storage, smart grid technologies and electrical transmission and delivery technologies.

On the other side of the nation, Maine plans to partner with the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership to assist the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to develop and use common regional protocols to evaluate, measure, verify and report demand-side resource impacts including energy efficiency. The state was awarded US $500,000.

Michigan will develop statewide infrastructure to support Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) and implement up to four PAYS pilot projects. The state was awarded US $491,100. The PAYS strategy will provide consumers with the option to finance cost-effective energy-efficiency and renewable-energy measures through a tariff on their utility bill, using a portion of energy cost savings to pay for the capital and financing cost of improvements.

Maryland will use its approximately US $462,000 to work towards the development of a smart grid in the state by implementing a program called EmPower Maryland. South Carolina, taking advantage of its long coastline, will use its approximately US $500,000 to overcome existing barriers for coastal clean energy development for wind, wave and tidal energy projects. The grant will be used to develop studies on transmission, resource validation and regulatory barriers.

Wisconsin plans to use its US $400,000 to evaluate the 25 oldest coal boilers under 85 megawatts in nameplate capacity and convert those suitable to wood-fired boilers. The state will also create a plan and with draft language for energy authorities to provide low interest loans for renewable energy projects.

Scott Sklar, President of the Stella Group Ltd., thinks the awards are an important step in the right direction.

“US DOE should be heartily commended for their awards to states to accelerate innovative approaches to significantly expand energy efficiency and renewables as well as educate code officials. This is a critical step in overcoming arbitrary roadblocks to more rapid integration of cost-effective efficiency and proven renewable-energy applications,” he said.

 

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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