The U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program (SEP) emphasizes the state's role as the decision-maker and administrator for program activities within the state that are tailored to their unique resources, delivery capacity, and energy goals.
SEP provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and increase energy affordability.
SEP was created by Congress in the early 1970s to encourage and facilitate state programs to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. The purpose of SEP is to promote the efficient use of energy and reduce the rate of growth of energy demand through the development and implementation of specific state energy programs.
SEP works with state and territory energy offices to address the following goals:
- Increase the energy efficiency of the U.S. economy.
- Implement energy security, resiliency, and emergency preparedness plans.
- Reduce energy costs and energy waste.
- Increase investments to expand the use of energy resources abundant in states.
- Promote economic growth with improved environmental quality.
Program Activities and Outcomes
SEP provides annual funding to 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories to support a nationwide infrastructure of state energy offices. Since 2010, SEP has provided states and territories with more than $540 million in financial assistance. Implementation of this funding by the states has resulted in a wide range of benefits to states, including:
- Implementation of energy security, resiliency, and emergency preparedness plans.
- Development of state-led strategic energy initiatives.
- Investments to expand the use of domestic energy resources.
- Reduced energy waste in more than 45,000 buildings (over 250 million square feet) through energy efficiency upgrades.
- Installation of more than 117,000 renewable energy systems (11.3 million kilowatt-hours).
- Education of more than 4.7 million people in performing energy audits and upgrades.
- Successful piloting of innovative energy projects with the private sector, K–12 schools, and universities.
- Execution of Energy Savings Performance Contracts to undertake retrofit projects in public facilities.
- Development of implementation models that serve as "how-to" guides for other states who wish to replicate the programs that are achieving energy efficiency savings.
Technical Assistance for States
SEP provides critical technical assistance to states and territories to maximize the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the nation. Over decades of work, SEP and its stakeholders have developed institutional knowledge on how to help state and local governments create new partnerships and connect with energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. This includes resources to help develop and implement financing mechanisms for institutional retrofit programs; loan program and management; energy savings performance contracting; comprehensive residential programs for homeowners; transportation programs that accelerate the use of alternative fuels; and renewable programs that remove barriers and support supply side and distributed renewable energy.
SEP maintains a couple of platforms to share state and local government best practices:
- The State and Local Solution Center is a one-stop shop of impactful public sector resources.
- The State and Local Spotlight is a monthly newsletter for the state, local, and K-12 officials with updates on relevant news, resources, and events.
The History of SEP
Originally known as the State Energy Conservation Program, SEP was established during the energy crisis of the early 1970s. The energy crisis resulted in a national increase in awareness of America's dependence on foreign oil. Congress responded to this mounting public concern with new legislation. New laws established a broad range of conservation programs and promoted new, more efficient sources of energy. The U.S. Department of Energy was created to lead and administer these new programs.
View the timeline below to learn more about the program and the legislation that formed its framework.