Carolinas Energy Planning for the Future: Local Government Toolkit
In December 2014, the South Carolina Energy Office, in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Advanced Energy, and UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), received a State Energy Program Competitive Award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to develop a bi-state coordinated vision for energy planning that can help meet state policy goals, support electric reliability, and comply with environmental standards. To further support the project goals, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation provided funding to expand the project reach and include education and outreach.
As part of the two-year project, an air quality toolkit was created to provide resources to local governments. The goal of this toolkit is to help local officials learn about energy-specific programs and practices that can be implemented in order to improve air quality. The specific topics covered in the toolbox include: background information on electricity generation, rate setting and air quality, transportation, internal operations, funding and financing, and community programs.
There are significant changes happening in the electric utility industry. These changes will affect every resident of the Carolinas, and some will impact local governments directly. Included changes are renewable energy, electric transportation, potential changes in rate structures and a switch in electric generation sources. It is important for local governments to be familiar with these changes in order to provide guidance and education to residents.
The below links include the Carolinas Energy Planning for the Future summary document, which provides a thorough overview of energy in the Carolinas. There are also overviews of how electric rate setting works in North Carolina and South Carolina. Lastly, you will find information on air quality and details on how energy efficiency programs can impact air quality.
- Carolinas Energy Planning for the Future Summary Report
- Renewable Energy and Local Government
- Rate Setting in North Carolina
- Rate Setting in South Carolina
- Energy Efficiency and Air Quality – Analysis Overview
- EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer
- EPA Co-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) Screening Model
- DOE Emissions Tool Estimates on Smart Grid Infrastructure Investments
- Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions – Benefits of Early State Action in Environmental Regulation of Electric Utilities: North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act
- RAP – Quantifying the Air Quality Impacts of Energy Efficiency Policies and Programs
According to the Energy Information Administration, transportation emissions are now the leading source of carbon dioxide in the United States for the first time since 1979. Governments can greatly improve air quality by encouraging alternative transportation. These changes can include improving public transportation, carpooling and car sharing, constructing bike and walking paths, using alternative fuels in fleet vehicles and supporting electric vehicles.
The links below provide further information on the steps local governments can take to encourage a shift in transportation in order to be more sustainable and improve air quality. One example of a program that can be implemented is the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. The electric vehicles and local government document shares the benefits of charging stations, including economic development and a healthier community, and provides best practices and a case study.
Transportation is a great area for local governments to begin putting together a strategy to decrease emissions in their fleet and in their community. Alternative fuels and modes of transportation significantly decreases local air emissions and creates a healthier place for people of all ages to live, work and play.
- Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations
- South Carolina Transit Partnerships
- Electric Vehicles and Air Quality
- DOE – Alternative Transportation Solutions
- DOE – Sustainable Transportation
- Clean Cities Website
- DOE – Workplace Charging Challenge
- DOE – Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Scorecard
- Palmetto State Clean Fuels Coalition
- NC Department of Environmental Quality – Transportation
- Plug-in NC – Electric Vehicle Educational Programs
A simple way to improve air quality is to examine opportunities in your internal operations including energy efficiency in government owned buildings, street lighting or water and waste-water treatment plants. There are plenty of great resources to help steer you in the right direction to get started or take your existing activities to the next level. Developing an energy component for your comprehensive plan can help create a vision for activities in your community. Learn about other local government and community successes through the below links and case studies.
- List of Energy Efficiency Programs in the Carolinas
- Energy Efficiency in Government Buildings
- US DOE – Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium
- US DOE- Outdoor Lighting Decision Tree Tool
- Asheville, NC LED Street Light Energy Efficiency Case Study
- CREE LED Lighting Case Studies
- ACEEE- EE opportunities in Municipal Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities
- EPA – Sustainable Water Infrastructure
- EPA – EE in Water and Wastewater Facilities
- Water Environment Federation
- Energy Comprehensive Plan Example – City of Raleigh Renewable Energy Overview
- Energy Comprehensive Plan Example – Philadelphia
- Energy Comprehensive Plan Example – City of Baltimore Sustainability Report
- South Carolina Energy Comprehensive Plan Guide
- Energy Savings Performance Contracting: A Primer for K-12 Schools
Energy efficiency projects are a great and lasting way to improve air quality. These programs, however, can be expensive undertakings, especially if they require a lot of updates or construction. To help bring down the costs of these projects, a variety of funding options exist. Whether you are working with residential, commercial, industrial, transportation or another area, many financial options are available including grants, low-interest loans, tax incentives and utility incentives. These financial assistance programs can help your local government to implement energy efficiency measures that will improve air quality in your community. Please see the links below for more information on programs that are available at the federal and state levels.
- Carolinas Funding and Financing Opportunities
- US Economic Development Administration – Economic Development Directory
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
- South Carolina Loans, Grants and Tax Incentives
- North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Grants
- Financing Energy Upgrades for K-12 School Districts
According to Energy Information Administration data, the residential and commercial sectors in the Carolinas produced a combined 6.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013. Local governments can help decrease this amount and greatly improve air quality by performing building benchmarking and supporting opportunities that promote energy efficiency in affordable housing, new and existing residential homes, schools and commercial buildings.
The resources below provide further information on the steps local governments can take to improve air quality and upgrade buildings to be more sustainable.
- List of Energy Efficiency Programs in the Carolinas
- Energy Efficiency Opportunities for Schools
- EPA ENERGY STAR New Homes
- DOE Building America Case Study
- Duke Energy Progress Residential New Construction Program
- USDA Rural Energy for America Programs
- DOE Energy Incentive Programs for North Carolina
- DOE Energy Incentive Programs for South Carolina
- ACEEE: State and Local Policy Database
- ACEEE: Energy Efficiency Policies for Local Governments
- ACEEE: State Energy Efficiency Scorecard
- ACEEE: City Energy Efficiency Scorecard
- ACEEE: Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool
- DOE Building Performance Database
- EERE – State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network