DOE Clean Energy Road Show

Fri, 2010-06-11 15:08

The Department of Energy's Clean Energy Roadshow was in Charlotte this week.  I attended a stakeholder's meeting at the Charlotte Government center as the DOE announced two community block grant awards for energy retrofits in the Charlotte and Greensboro markets.  It was a standing room only event, which was impressive given that almost none of the public attendees knew about it more than a day in advance.

On one hand, I was impressed listening to Gil Sperling from the Department of Energy speak about the challenges and goals of the DOE's retrofit ramp up program. On the other hand, there were very few private companies that I could identify in the room, and it seemed mostly filled with government officials, non-profits, and other community organizers.  I believe that to make home energy retrofits a viable business that we need more private industry involvement and creativity.  At one point in the meeting, a contractor (who said he had 5 employees doing energy audits here in Charlotte) pointedly asked how he could be expected to run a business, hire employees, and compete against the free money being granted through this program - good question.

Overall, it was a bit scripted, but still informative, stakeholders meeting.  My main takeaways are as follows:

1 - Nationwide, we currently do 150,000 home energy audits per year.  The new target is 5-10 million homes per year.  They intend to scale retrofits up by targeting whole communities vs the traditional approach of targeting individual homes.

2 - They recognize the challenges of encouraging private industry, encouraging consumer demand, and generally building a self-supporting industry.

3 -  Gil mentioned the desire for Carbon Quantification which will help the US meet its international commitments.

4 - Gil mentioned a possible successor to the Home Star Program called Building Star.  Very interesting.

5 - In September, DOE expects to release a home energy labeling system.  Will this be different than Energy Star and HERS?

Overall, it was a very informative meeting.