DOE Announces Up To $3 Million to Administer Superior Energy Performance Program

January 19, 2012

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $3 million to help American manufacturers leverage energy efficiency as a path to increased competitiveness. Provided by the Advanced Manufacturing Office and the Building Technologies Program, the funding will support a Program Administrator whose role will be to promote and operate the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – accredited Superior Energy Performance (SEP) program. Once launched, SEP will provide a clear roadmap to help industrial and commercial facilities achieve continual improvements in energy efficiency. The program also promises to tackle a potential barrier to otherwise profitable energy efficiency investments by providing a transparent, globally accepted system for companies to validate improvements in their energy performance.

The SEP program, expected to be launched toward the end of this year, constitutes a key component of DOE's efforts to foster a culture of energy efficiency throughout American manufacturing as one of the pivotal ingredients for a robust clean energy economy. The SEP Program Administrator (SEP-PA) will be responsible for launching and overseeing the program during its initial stages with primary responsibility for developing a business model that will allow SEP to become a fee-based, self-sufficient program within three years of the award so it can operate without the need for financial assistance from the Federal government.

The SEP Program is intended to address several fundamental energy management challenges that today hinder greater adoption of energy efficiency opportunities within both the commercial and industrial sectors. These challenges include lack of awareness of the energy efficiency opportunities that exist, lack of understanding on how to implement improvements, lack of consistent business models to evaluate the competitive strength of opportunities, and lack of management commitment to manage energy use as an integral part of their operations. There are currently 35 companies in 20 states addressing these challenges by participating in SEP industrial demonstration projects. Eight SEP commercial pilot facilities have also been established to test the SEP Program elements and overall scheme.

In order to meet SEP criteria, companies must: 1) implement and conform to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 50001 energy management system standard, and 2) achieve defined levels of improvement in their energy intensity performance. DOE will be working with a Peer Review Committee consisting of the U.S. Council for Energy Efficient Manufacturing and other industry and commercial stakeholders for input to assist with the operation of the program. The Committee will review the performance of the SEP-PA to determine if adequate progress is being achieved toward program goals and will provide additional direction as needed to keep the program on a path to success. Among the goals against which it will be evaluated, in addition to standing SEP up with a self-sustaining business model through user certification fees, the SEP-PA will be expected to actively promote and market the program to help it become widely recognized and respected.

The funding is expected to be awarded to at least one entity over a period of up to three years subject to an annual performance review to determine if acceptable progress is being made toward meeting program goals and deliverables. Eligible applicants for this funding opportunity include U.S. domestic entities or consortia composed of: 1) academic institutions; and 2) non-profit [except 501(c)(4) non-profits] and for-profit private entities.

For more information and application requirements for this Funding Opportunity Announcement, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website. Letters of Intent in connection with this opportunity are due February 21, 2012. Applications will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on March 21, 2012. DOE anticipates notifying applicants selected for awards by May 2012 and making awards by June 2012.

Learn more about how DOE's Advanced Manufacturing Office is working to identify, explore, develop, demonstrate, and deploy new, energy-efficient processes and materials technologies that can help U.S. manufacturers secure a competitive advantage in the global economy.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.