State and Local Energy Policy Innovation: The Recovery Act and On-Going Opportunities

State and local energy programs received a one-time infusion of Federal resources from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  This investment offered new opportunities to expand innovative clean energy programs to meet the needs and overcome the barriers to technology deployment in the 50 states and thousands of communities across the country.  A new research agenda in the Clean Energy Policy Laboratory (CEPL) at the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy seeks to understand the characteristics and variables behind how states formulated their ARRA State Energy Plans and explore low-cost and no-cost policy options to maintain these activities beyond the ARRA period.  From the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, to Leading by Example Initiatives in the States, to Foreign-State Agreements on Climate Change- such as the United Kingdom-California Pact- there is a growing recognition among academics, policymakers, and the general public that jurisdictions of all shapes and size in the United States are pivotal players in policy innovation in the 21st century clean energy economy.

Through the Georgia Innovation Internship Program in the Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Program (STIP) at the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Benjamin Deitchman produced a report and presentation for the economic development community in Georgia to assess the ARRA Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) project and long-term potential of energy savings and employment expansion in local governments in the state.  The project connected economic development and energy policy, showing that Georgia’s cities, towns, and counties could have better supported private sector efforts but can continue to build on successes with efficiency in the public building stock through Energy Savings Performance Contracting and other mechanisms.  Researchers at Georgia Tech hope that dissemination of best practices and recommendations can help policy-makers at the sub-national level adopt and implement clean energy practices to meet desired environmental and economic outcomes. 

The next item for research is to develop an understanding of how and why the 56 State and Territorial Energy Offices chose their respective programs through the $3.1 billion in ARRA State Energy Program funding (SEP) and how this rapid increase in SEP impacted state energy policy.  Researchers at Georgia Tech will analyze the State Energy Plans and develop policy diffusion and internal determinants models to see how factors such as local energy resources, state economics, and public administration influence clean energy policy choices.  While this will not be a formal program evaluation of SEP, it will analyze SEP spending and requirements to assess their impacts on programs, policies, and long-term efforts to secure energy independence and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.   

Resources:

  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants in Georgia: Opportunities for Growth From Local Government Energy Savings

Researchers:

  • Dr. Marilyn A. Brown: marilyn.brown@publicpolicy.asmith313 [at] gatech.edu (gatech.edu)
  • Dr. Benjamin Deitchman: bhd [at] gatech.edu