US Stimulus Fund - Billions Available For Energy Efficiency

Knoxville in the U.S has recently conducted an extensive energy audit and they are about to find out which of 99 city buildings are wasting the most energy.

Their timing couldn't have been better with a flood of U.S. federal government stimulus money earmarked for energy efficient measures will be available for them to fund the changes.

Knoxville’s preparation has placed the city in a good position to benefit, but experts worry that other U.S. cities are not ready to oversee the huge sums of energy-efficiency money about to come their way.

The money in the bill is enough to pay for a tremendous expansion of efficiency efforts across the U.S.

“There’s enormous opportunity here for expansion of energy efficiency in this country,” said Lowell Ungar, the policy director for the Alliance to Save Energy, an advocacy group. “But there is certainly the potential for waste.”

Accelerating the country’s energy transition is at the top of President Obama’s list, and experts in the field agree with him that carefully chosen investments in efficiency will ultimately save more than they cost, by cutting energy bills.

The stimulus package will start boosting the budgets of many States departments that are more used to scraping the barrel to fund projects, for example Utah expects that its state energy office will receive $40 million for energy efficiency and related programs — 123 times the size of the office’s current budget.

Commercial buildings and homes account for 39 percent of national energy consumption. Improving their efficiency is not only cost-effective but also a good way to reduce the nation’s emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

But figuring out how to spend the money effectively — learning which university buildings need energy efficiency more than others, for example, or which office buildings need energy efficient lighting management — can involve time-consuming, tricky analysis for skilled technicians.

“People are very conservative about their buildings,” said Donald Gilligan, the president of the National Association of Energy Service Companies, a trade group. “Nobody wants to put a failed technology into school buildings or have the lights not work.”

Knoxville hopes to reduce the city’s energy bills as much as 25 percent, and the city is setting a lead for many other municipalities.

“There’s a lot of municipalities out there who are completely unaware this is moving forward,” Seth Kaplan, a vice president of the environmental group Conservation Law Foundation, stated - referring particularly to smaller cities. “They just don’t have the infrastructure in place to deal with this.”

Monday 1st March 2010

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