New Report Highlights Impact of AlabamaWISE Program on Jobs, Economy, Energy in Alabama

A report released by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) yesterday highlights the impact of community energy programs in Alabama by Nexus Energy Center and Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Elizabeth Grimes, ADECA’s energy program manager said “Through the Alabama Wise program, Nexus Energy Center has transformed the residential retrofit market in key communities statewide. More importantly, they’ve built local capacity to sustain this kind of work long into the future, thanks to extensive workforce education, contractor and realtor training, an innovative suite of financing options and targeted consumer outreach.”

The AlabamaWISE program was one of a consortium of 13 community energy programs funded by a Dept. of Energy Better Buildings grant through SEEA. “Partner cities have made significant headway in creating a new level of interest and acceptance for energy efficiency in the Southeast, and have achieved positive and measurable results through the diverse programs they’ve field tested and evaluated over the past three years.” said SEEA President Mandy Mahoney in announcing publication of the final project report, called EnergyPro3. “Energy Pro3 provides a vehicle for taking stock of this progress and identifying the Southeast-specific approaches that best capitalize on energy efficiency as a means to strengthen and revitalize our region’s economy.”

Nearly 10,000 energy audits were completed, resulting in energy upgrades to nearly 6,000 homes, created 290 jobs, generating $37,955,260 in contractor revenues, and saving families across the southeast $2,668,640 annually on their utility bills. The AlabamaWISE programs achieved 20% of the total with more than 1,200 residential retrofits by participating contractors throughout north Alabama. The SEEA EnergyPro3 report documents southeast-specific approaches that best capitalize on energy efficiency as a means to strengthen and revitalize our region’s economy and featured two AlabamaWISE success stories:

Report by Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance documents impacts and lessons learned from community energy programs funded by the Dept. of Energy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Birmingham Utility Cooperation:
Birmingham WISE reached out to natural gas provider Alagasco, which was an early champion of the rebate and contractor program. Of note, Alagasco actively promoted Eco Three, WISE’s most active contractor in Birmingham, through shared marketing efforts, including information about Eco Three and their offerings in a February bill that went more than 400,000 customers.

Huntsville Green Jobs for Veterans:
Sheila Stewart joined the army straight out of high school was honorably discharged after three years of service. Education quickly became a priority and Sheila earned an Associate’s Degree and spent several years working for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). But the pull of entrepreneurship drew Sheila from TVA to start her own business, Synergy Spa and Supplies, a personal care store in Madison, Alabama. Unfortunately her work ethic and vision couldn’t fight off the ravages of a down economy and she closed the store not long after opening.

Meaningful employment was hard to find, no matter the effort she put into the search. Sheila contacted Still Serving Veterans on a whim, and in short order received information about the Renewable Energy Institute, a training program run by Nexus Energy Center and Drake State Technical College. She jumped at the opportunity, “understanding that energy is the next big wave of careers… there’s lots of opportunity in energy jobwise.” She graduated at the top of her class with a BPI Building Analyst certification and shortly thereafter attended a job fair coordinated by Nexus, who ended up hiring her as business administrator. Sheila continues to work for Nexus, while at the same time pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business communications. She intends to remain in the energy sector upon graduation and is confident about her prospects, saying, “my training is going to afford me a lot of opportunities in the future.” And as a veteran, Sheila sees EE a bit differently, “This is America, we’ve got to reshape our thinking about energy.”

Download the full report here: http://www.seealliance.org/pdfs/SEEA_EnergyPro3_Report_FinalWeb.pdf