Energy Efficiency Leveraged As Financial Driver of Community Improvement in Southern US
Distributed Energy, March 10, 2015
When it comes to implementing leading-edge energy efficiency programs, certain US states and cities are known as innovators. These sustainability-savvy hot beds are prominent on the West Coast and in the Northeast, but a new trend is emerging in an area of the county where progress in energy efficiency is often unexpected—the southern US.
Southern states have been ranked historically low by key industry watchdog groups in terms of energy efficiency, compared to their counterparts. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, nearly all southern states stretching from the eastern seaboard to Texas ranked in the bottom half of US, with many falling somewhere in the 40s or high 30s range.
So why is an area of the country with some of the lowest energy efficiency rankings suddenly proactively addressing energy efficiency challenges? The answer is twofold: Increased sustainability pressures coupled with the daunting reality of maintaining aging infrastructure with little-to-no budget. But, more importantly, how are government entities with limited operating budgets and a long list of priorities able to implement new projects to improve their facilities? An innovative financing model is helping Southern communities complete energy savings projects without the upfront capital costs and special appropriations that oftentimes prevent critical infrastructure renovations from getting off the ground—and it’s making a significant impact on the region, both from a sustainability and economic development perspective.