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02/10/17

State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program

State Energy Program

The State Energy Program (SEP) was created in 1996 under the Department of Energy and assists states in maximizing the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy by serving as a resource for technical assistance, technology deployment, strategic partnerships, state energy plans, and financial assistance, among other resources. SEP also helps states develop energy emergency plans in preparation for natural disasters. Its major goals include increasing American energy efficiency, reducing energy costs, improving the reliability of energy services, developing alternative energy resources, promoting economic growth, and decreasing oil imports. 

The program has been successful in working toward each of those goals, saving $7.23 for each dollar of federal investment– amounting to $256 million in annual cost savings and 42.3 million MBtu in energy savings annually. SEP has also worked to address energy consumption in America’s buildings sector, which consumes more than 40% of the nation’s energy, by supporting energy efficiency retrofits in state and local government buildings. In doing so, the program has upgraded America’s infrastructure, covering 153 million square feet of energy efficient retrofits in state and local government buildings alone.  The value of federal investment does not stop there: every $50 million in SEP funding results in over $585 million in economic development and connects 300,000 efficiency experts to business owners and consumers to help them save money through energy efficiency.

The impact of SEP is unique in the way that it reaches every sector of the U.S. economy. In just the last few years, it has supported energy retrofits for public schools, reduced energy costs for Alaskans through energy monitoring software, improved irrigation efficiency for the dairy industry, and improved electric vehicle infrastructure on a key U.S. highway. These success stories, large and small, demonstrate how technical assistance, financing structures, and good partnerships can enhance the energy efficiency of the U.S. economy to save consumers and business owners money while also improving environmental stewardship.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) originated under the Department of Energy in 1976 with the goal of offering grant based assistance to low-income families to improve their energy efficiency through home upgrades. WAP helps families in need save money on their energy bills while also improving the health and safety of the home. Over the last 30 years, WAP has helped weatherize over 7 million homes, resulting in safer, healthier and more energy efficient homes for American families. WAP is also a highly effective program. When Oak Ridge National Lab reviewed the effectiveness of WAP in 2010, its analysis showed that the program’s impact was significant. Overall, WAP efforts weatherized 340,000 homes, produced energy savings of $1.1 billion, supported 28,000 jobs, and reduced carbon emissions by 7.3 million metric tons for that year alone. With a proven track record of generating savings greater than investment size, WAP has significantly helped the most vulnerable improve their standard of living and save money on cost-effective home efficiency improvements.