Editor’s note: Video from the news conference is available online.
The state of Delaware is the first in the country to use a new “green energy savings bond” model invented at the University of Delaware Center for Environmental and Energy Policy (CEEP) to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for public buildings.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell announced the new initiative Jan. 6, in partnership with Delaware's Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU).
The SEU, a unique nonprofit organization created to foster a sustainable energy future for the state, was developed in part by John Byrne, Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy and CEEP director, along with several UD graduate students and policy fellows.
Under the new initiative, the state and the SEU will be retrofitting state buildings, some of which are more than 30 years old, to update the systems that provide heat, air conditioning, electricity and water. Power for these facilities cost $33 million in FY09, but system modernization will significantly reduce energy consumption.
Upgrades for the Carvel Building alone will create 65 jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.1 million pounds, which is equivalent to removing about 860 cars from the roads each year.
“Getting people back to work and reducing energy consumption without impacting the state budget is one of the best examples of a win/win that you can find,” Markell said. “It's not just more jobs and less energy used, it's a significant and sustainable change in the way government uses its resources.”
The SEU is currently putting together a portfolio of $25-$35 million worth of energy efficiency projects in municipal, hospital and school buildings.
“The SEU is offering a timely and innovative approach to reducing the cost of state government,” said State Senator Harris B. McDowell, co-chair (with Byrne) of the SEU Board. “Our state buildings are rife with wasted energy and money. Cutting energy waste will make more money available for state services, employees, streets and infrastructure. And investments in energy efficiency mean more good-paying jobs and economic development opportunities. In a post-recession economy, it's a no brainer.”
No money from the state's capital budget will be required for the retrofits. The SEU, under its bonding authority, will provide the up-front financing. Energy services companies will guarantee a certain level of cost savings, and bonds will be repaid from those funds. Additional funding has been committed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“We have been working closely with DelTech, the Laborers' International Union and several nonprofits to ensure that our workers are trained and ready to start,” Markell said. “The initiative could employ hundreds of people across the state in jobs that cannot be exported.”
In addition to the fiscal benefits and job creation, the retrofits will provide significant environmental benefits through the reduction of pollution from fossil fuels, improved public health due to cleaner air, and a reduced carbon footprint.