Competitive Awards in Action

Learn how SEP Competitive Award recipients accomplished their goals and see the best practice guidelines they wrote to share with their peers.

The U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program (SEP) provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste.

SEP dedicates a portion of its funding each year to provide competitively awarded financial assistance that helps states meet their energy goals and explore opportunities for regional collaboration and partnerships. In a typical year, states may apply for funding under specific Areas of Interest with the flexibility to choose topics or approaches to achieving their energy goals within the Areas of Interest.

During Fiscal Years 2014–2016, SEP Competitive Awards up to $5 million were awarded to applicants seeking to maximize the impact of formula grant work related to energy efficiency and/or renew­able energy adoption under three Areas of Interest:


State Energy Planning

Since 2014, SEP has provided $4.5 million to 11 states to bolster state and regional energy planning by

  • Funding efforts to facilitate stakeholder and interagency discussions and related activities concerning the future direction of the energy sector in the state.
  • Helping states enhance economic development opportunities associated with energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Helping states undertake relevant analytics efforts and plan strategically for current and future environmental factors that will impact the energy sector.

Under this area, states have developed a roadmap for implementing a preferred set of solutions related to the electric power sector and natural gas supply and transport, with milestones set for 2020 and 2025.

Opportunities for Innovative Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs

Since 2014, SEP has provided $10.2 million to 20 states to assist in the development of new programs that advance energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption within several topics of emphasis:

  1. Advancing state energy reduction and/or renewable energy generation goals through utility partnerships;
  2. Financing mechanisms for public or private sector energy efficiency and renewable energy investment;
  3. Statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy targets/goals (including Renewable Portfolio Standards, Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, energy efficiency targets as part of an integrated resource plan, part of an RPS, or portfolio of programs that will provide defined savings).
  4. Policies and programs for distributed resources.
  5. Frameworks for evaluation, measurement and verification of energy and emission reductions.
  6. Financing retrofits for public facilities.
  7. Utility or third-party administered energy efficiency programs.
  8. Supporting partnerships with local governments to incentivize and/or remove barriers to energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.
  9. Building energy performance information for decision-making, including benchmarking and disclosure, aggregation of whole building usage data and data access.

Technical Assistance to Advance SEP Formula Grant Clean Energy Activities

In 2016, SEP provided $225,000 to three states for technical assistance activities that maximize the impact of their formula-funded grant work related to energy efficiency and/or renewable energy adoptions.  This Area of Interest is only open to states that have not received a competitive award in the last four years (2013-2016).

Read more about SEP competitive funding assistance in the areas of: