Monday, May 3, 2010

Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance begins outreach efforts

On Friday morning, U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus joined national, state and local leaders in Wyoming to celebrate the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance's (GCEA) $17 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), awarded just over a week ago.

Part of the Clean Energy Roadshow's Cincinnati stop, the press conference preceded Saturday's volunteer effort to knock on 1,000 doors in Mount Washington, encouraging residents to retrofit their homes by handing out energy-efficient light bulbs. The thirty volunteers also signed up residents for $50 home energy audits.

It was the first of many such canvassing efforts planned by GCEA.

"The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance has offered a plan to retrofit thousands of homes and businesses in our community, putting people to work and helping to drive down utility costs," Driehaus said. "The Recovery Act is helping to move these projects forward. I'm pleased to join with local leaders today whose commitment to clean energy development helped secure these critical resources and whose hard work is moving us toward tomorrow's clean energy economy."

The GCEA's energy-efficiency outreach programs are supported by a financial strategy that leverages both federal funding and private capital, executive director Andy Holzhauser said.

"The model that we have developed, supported by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Duke Energy, seven local governments throughout Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, and many other key partners, forms a strong base for expanding our energy efficiency programs throughout the region," he said. "We anticipate involving private capital to generate an economic impact of $100 million or more during the period of the grant."

The funding was provided through the DOE's Retrofit Ramp-Up program, part of its $452 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.

The DOE estimates that the program will save households and businesses about $100 million in energy costs and will leverage more than $2.8 billion in additional investment over the next three years. Tens of thousands of new green jobs could be created in the weatherization industry, it says.

Up to 700 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created or retained locally.

"Clean energy jobs will be the jobs of the future, whether they are focused on improving energy efficiency of our homes or building wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles," said Gil Sperling, senior advisor with the DOE. "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided the down payment for our nation's transition to a clean energy economy. We need to leverage the combined resources of local and state governments and the private sector through partnerships like we're building here today to get the best return on these investments."

The Roadshow tour, created to find ways to help spur this public-private investment in the clean energy economy, is a collaboration between the Clean Economy Development Center, the Clean Economy Network, Change to Win, the Sierra Club, the Laborers' International Union of North America, Blue Green Alliance, Conservation Services Group, and other national partners.

Previous reading on BC:
$17M federal retrofit grant to save energy, create jobs (4/26/10)