Sanders and Merkley

This week's climate heroes:
This legislation would dedicate 2% of revenues from climate change legislation to fund combined heat and power, waste energy recovery, and district energy projects. Based on various estimates, this could mean roughly between $1 billion and $1.5 billion per year for clean energy infrastructure. The Thermal Energy Efficiency Act would provide 40% of its funding for institutional entities (defined as public or non-profit hospitals, local and state governments, school districts and higher education facilities, tribal governments, municipal utilities, or their designees), 40% for commercial and industrial entities, and 20% to be used in the discretion of the Secretary of Energy to fund institutional entity projects, commercial and industrial projects, or federal facility projects. A match is required of all non-federal applicants, starting at 25% from 2012-2017, and rising to 50% from 2018-2050. The breakdown of how the money would be used is 75% for construction of infrastructure, 15% for planning, engineering, and feasibility studies, and the remaining 10% to be used at the discretion of the Secretary for either infrastructure or planning, depending on the need.

Thermal energy and combined heat and power (CHP) offer a huge opportunity for efficiency and emissions reduction using today’s technology. CHP can be used with a variety of fuel sources, including coal, natural gas, geothermal, biomass, oil, and waste.

According to the Department of Energy, moving from having 9% of our electric power as CHP today to 20% by 2030 would:

* avoid 60% of our projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions (equivalent to taking half of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. today off the road),
* create more than 1 million new jobs, and
* leverage new investments of $234 billion.

In order to achieve this, however, we need to increase long-term funding support for these systems. DOE has a stimulus-related funding application for $156 million for CHP, waste energy, and district energy. They have received 359 applications for projects valued at $9.2 billion. This represents a 25 to 1 ratio in terms of funding need to federal funding available. Based on the federal match, this shows that additional federal funding could leverage billions in state, local, and private sector dollars if more federal funding was available.
Lose less money by reusing the heat, and save the environment. This is probably the most significant step forward I've seen in a long time. $156 million is available, and pent-up demand for $9.2 billion is out there? Cash for Clunkers step aside!