By Dr. Henry C. McKoy
We are coming to the time of year that marks the completion of a season. Labor Day is approaching which marks the end of summer. Labor Day is an occasion to celebrate the vital contributions of workers in this country. It is a time for cookouts and gatherings to celebrate with family and friends. It is also a time to celebrate coworkers. I want to begin this message by celebrating my colleagues and coworkers at the U.S. Department of Energy who work tirelessly on behalf of the American people every day, through every season. This is also a time of significance for two reasons: July marked my one-year anniversary leading the department's Office of State and Community Energy Programs, or SCEP. And August marks the one-year anniversary of the most transformative set of policies relating to the environmental, public health and economic benefits of our nation—the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law on Aug. 16, 2022.
When I took on this role at the end of July 2022, SCEP was still being born. It had begun as a result of a new vision following the passage of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021, whose funds were combined with annual appropriations to focus, for the first time, on a DOE office operating at the intersection of energy, place-based development, and equity. When I began, we had $6 billion in funds from IIJA and annual appropriations. About three weeks later, the IRA passed and we were suddenly a $16 billion office. Today, we manage that $16 billion of funding across 28 program areas ranging from weatherization assistance to helping states adopt the latest energy-efficiency building codes to the IRA’s largest consumer facing program, the $8.5 billion Home Energy Rebate Programs—touching over 250 million Americans. SCEP has a comprehensive portfolio of energy provisions to support nearly every community need.
This initial season of our work over the previous year—"SCEP 1.0"—was marked with the development and release of provisions and guidance that will allow for billions of dollars to be invested in every state and thousands of cities across America. Our office believes in the power of collaboration and spent countless hours holding listening sessions and reviewing thousands of pages of comments from Requests for Information (RFIs) to gain feedback from stakeholders at every turn before deploying our programs. I am pleased to share a breakdown of the Annual, IIJA, and IRA funding opportunities allocated to SCEP over the past year (note that some rounds of funding opportunities remain open while others have recently closed):
|Energy Future Grants||$27 million|
|Local Government Clean Energy Workforce Program||$12 million|
|Annual State Energy Program Grants||$66 million|
|Annual Weatherization Assistance Program||$336 million|
|Weatherization Readiness Fund||$30 million|
|Building Training and Assessment Centers||$10 million|
|Career Skills Training||$9.6 million|
|Energy Auditor Training Grant Program||$38 million|
|Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program||$532 million|
|Renew America's Nonprofits||$48 million|
|Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund Capitalization Grant Program||$242 million|
|Renew America's School||$193 million|
|IIJA State Energy Program Grants||$484 million|
|IIJA Weatherization Assistance Program||$3.3 billion|
|Zero Energy Code||$670 million|
|Home Energy Whole House Rebates||$4.3 billion|
|High Efficiency Rebate Program States||$4.2 billion|
|State Based Contractor Training||$200 million|
|High Efficiency Rebate Program Tribes||$225 million|
|Building Energy Code||$330 million|
*Note these congressionally allocated amounts may differ from program announcements. Amounts do not reflect funding withheld for program management, technical assistance, and program administrative costs.
SCEP's mission is to significantly accelerate the deployment of financial capital, clean energy technologies, knowledge, and practices through place-based strategies involving state, local, and Tribal governments, community organizations, academia, and business stakeholders that catalyze community economic development, create high-quality jobs, and improve the lives of Americans. Our guiding vision is to be the bridge that connects the federal government to community-serving institutions.
SCEP was born out of President Biden's vision for a better, more sustainable future for this country. With bold goals like achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the Biden Administration has put their might into a huge undertaking to curb emissions, reduce energy costs and ensure good-paying jobs
Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to visit with many stakeholders and partners across the United States, in rural and urban areas. These committed Americans form the foundation of what will be our equitable transition to a decarbonized economy. To achieve our ambitious climate goals of 2035—reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels, reaching 100% carbon pollution-free electricity, and delivering 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities, and the long-term goal of reaching net-zero emissions no later than 2050—no community, in fact, no individual, can be left behind or excluded. It is also clear that we cannot sit in the "ivory tower" and do this work. Being in and among the communities we serve is critical.
Our goal is to prove that SCEP's whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As we take the reflections of the inaugural year of our office, we will be even more intentional about how we engage with our stakeholders and execute on operational learnings. This movement from SCEP 1.0 to SCEP 2.0 following Labor Day will continue to make a commitment to transparency, while seeking to expand ways that we communicate with the public. We want to show you all the wonderful things that make up the SCEP office including our people, our work, and our partners. In the weeks, months, and years ahead, I invite you all to continue to hold us accountable. As we move into our next season, we know that the work will not be easy, but we know we will get there together. I can't wait for the many celebrations that await us.