Over the past two months, I have prioritized listening to our partners from Maine down to Maryland. I am energized by our talented staff and committed partners who are rising to the demands of this incredibly busy time in the energy efficiency field. Here are a few takeaways of what I have heard so far:
We Must Maximize Federal Funding for Long-Term Efficiency Gains
Major new federal funding for efficiency through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law create unprecedented opportunities for the Northeast region such as advanced building energy codes, workforce development, and investments in equitable building energy and electrification upgrades for single-family, multifamily, and commercial buildings. States and communities seek technical assistance to maximize these opportunities, while also supporting enduring programs that will last well beyond these federal funds.
The region has major opportunities to reduce emissions and reach communities that have been historically underserved through programs such as the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new $2 billion Climate Justice Community Change Grants program, Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program, and the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Rebates program. NEEP is supporting the region to maximize these opportunities through our resources, webinars, technical assistance, and convenings.
The Region Should Prioritize Workforce Development for the Energy Efficiency Field
The energy efficiency sector drives a large portion of the regional economy. The Northeast region support an estimated 485 thousand jobs and more than 74 thousand businesses in energy efficiency, according to the 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). In fact, efficiency is the largest energy sector for jobs in nearly every state in the region. But as new technologies evolve for efficiency and electrification, significant opportunity remains to upskill our energy efficiency workforce and ensure they represent the communities they serve. NEEP is prioritizing regional workforce advancement through projects such as our ReMaine Clean Energy Internship Program and the Total Energy Pathways (TEP) Workforce Online Resource Center, which provides on-demand courses and assistance for anyone looking to enter the clean energy workforce.
Partners Value Time Together to Share the Latest Strategies and Lessons Learned
I have heard a hunger for more opportunities to partner and engage with regional peers through in-person events and virtual cohorts. NEEP is serving as a regional convener on timely policy opportunities to transform the energy efficiency market through our in-person events, such as our annual Summit and Heating Electrification Initiative workshop, virtual cohorts and collaboratives, and our Ready Set Scale webinar series. Our 2023 series tackled topics such as funding opportunities for communities and unlocking data for IRA implementation.
Looking Ahead to 2024
I look forward with great excitement to leading NEEP in 2024! We are prioritizing strategies that will have the greatest impact and that respond to pressing stakeholder needs. We know that we must urgently scale efficiency and building electrification to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollutants to improve health and protect our future generations, while also investing in today’s communities and lowering costs for those struggling with high energy bills. This work is only possible through a collaborative approach, and we look forward to working together with our partners in 2024 to advance this critical mission.