Widely referred to as the “Stimulus Act”, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 was designed to create jobs and help those hit hardest by the recession. Through one section of ARRA, thousands of local communities across the country were awarded funding for energy efficiency projects and programs. The Department of Energy (DOE) provided technical and educational resources to help grantees make invest the funds well. As the funding from ARRA expired, communities were left with questions about how to keep the momentum going with limited resources.
In 2009, the DOE hired VEIC to lead a team of organizations charged with helping grantees established strategies for energy use. VEIC developed the Community Energy Strategic Plan (CESP) to serve as a blueprint to help communities articulate goals, develop strategies, and allocate resources to achieve a defined energy vision.
The tools and information were initially delivered through the CESP Academy: a series of webinars attended by select representatives from ten to twelve participating communities. Through the Academy, representatives worked with the Guide to Community Energy Strategic Planning (pdf), a book developed by VEIC to accompany the webinars. Each participant prepared a first draft of a CESP for circulation with their local leaders.
Now that ARRA funding has ended, the Guide continues to provide ongoing support for local communities through the DOE’s Better Buildings Alliance.
- Through CESP Academy, 23 local governments took the first steps toward development of strong energy plans for their communities.
- Through the CESP Guidebook and webinars, VEIC provided a planning framework and materials that remain in use by the DOE as they continue to support local governments with energy planning.