Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act & the Industrial Assessment Centers

In case you haven’t heard, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, signed in to law on February 17, 2009) provides enormous sums of money for advancing energy efficiency initiatives that save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and yes—help to stimulate our moribund economy.

Industrial Assessment Centers were a resource highlighted during the debate that led up to the ARRA’s ratification. The IACs are university-based centers dedicated to the development of hands-on energy expertise. This brilliant concept, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program, allows engineering students to gain experience while providing energy-saving recommendations to small manufacturing entities. Industrial entities that obtain IAC services get a student-teacher team to provide a one-day facility assessment. This culminates in an itemized list of recommendations for technology upgrades, procedural amendments, or behavioral changes that reduce energy waste or boost productivity.

The IACs are not new. In fact, these centers, now 26 in number and located across the U.S., have been around since 1974. Since then, they have amassed 14,000 individual facility-level energy assessments, producing over 100,000 improvement recommendations. A recent estimate reports that implemented IAC recommendations equate to a cumulative energy savings of $4.5 billion. About 250 students are involved in IAC activities in 2009.

IACs are well-positioned to become an even greater resource for economic development. We might expect to see more centers, an expansion of existing centers, or both. The vehicle for enabling this growth may be the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program grant. SEPs have been a historically important vehicle for extending federal grant dollars to state energy offices for driving the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. Hideously underfunded for the past decade, SEPs are suddenly (because of the newly-ratified ARRA) in a position to deliver over $3 billion to state energy offices. State administrators need to look no further than the IACs to quickly deliver measureable value.

I had the pleasure of giving a presentation to IAC students at their annual meeting in Washington, DC on February 6. I commended the group for choosing a career path in energy—a feature of critical importance to our economic health and national security. And as regular readers of this blog might guess, I spoke about the managerial aspects of energy cost control. I believe it was well received. Take a look at all the speakers’ presentations here.


Who links to my website?