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Report Highlights Renewable Energy Best Practices

Green Schools and Sustainability in Appalachia: Case Studies in Rural Practice highlights renewable energy and energy-efficiency best practices in colleges and universities that are environmentally sustainable and that foster education-community partnerships to support local economic growth. It emphasizes those institutions most closely aligned with local economies and highlights lessons learned from effective programs.

Throughout Appalachia, educational institutions have been historic leaders in rural communities, and important new strategies and bold new initiatives often are a direct result of the vision and support of local secondary and higher educational institutions. Because of the important role educational institutions play in the community, this report seeks to address two principal questions:

  • How can colleges and universities work with communities to promote sustainable development and create new economic opportunities in rural Appalachia?
  • How can education-community-industry-labor partnerships encourage and lead local policy efforts to create local jobs and retain more wealth in the community, while improving energy efficiency and boosting renewable-energy production?

The Appalachian Region is rich in a variety of energy resources, including conventional fossil fuels, renewable fuels, and alternative energy fuels. The Region's mines currently produce more than a third of the nation's coal, and its electrical utilities provide 15 percent of the nation's electrical output. The development of alternative and renewable energy in the Region is growing rapidly. The energy industry in Appalachia directly generates almost 150,000 jobs, with hundreds of thousands more generated by businesses involved in the production and distribution of related goods and services.

By using its full range of energy resources and employing emerging energy technologies and practices, the Region can create and retain jobs; increase the supply of locally produced, clean, affordable energy; help companies stay competitive; and keep the Region moving toward energy independence.

ARC provides a range of assistance to help communities develop clean energy programs, as well as support to help new energy businesses expand and create local jobs. Commission-supported activities include:

  • Training and education programs focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean fossil energy production.
  • Direct grant support for energy-efficient buildings and water facility projects, and the underwriting of programs to help clean-energy businesses expand and grow.
  • Strategic partnerships to develop new policies and programs with leaders in the new energy economy, such as industry trade associations, nonprofit organizations, utilities, and public agencies.
  • Research into economic opportunities provided by the new energy economy.

In 2006, ARC created an "energy blueprint" for Appalachia to provide a strategic framework for the promotion of energy-related job opportunities through the stimulation of sustainable energy production, efficiency, and innovation efforts in the Region. The report Energizing Appalachia: A Regional Blueprint for Economic and Energy Development (PDF: 650 KB) provides an overview of the global, national, and regional energy landscapes, explains the energy blueprint's goal and strategic objectives, and identifies specific strategies that can be pursued by ARC and its partners.

In October 2009, ARC held the New Energy, New Jobs, New Opportunities for Appalachia conference, on new opportunities for business growth and job creation in the new-energy sector. Materials from the conference are available on the ARC Web site.

Renewable-Energy and Energy-Efficiency Grant Competition Winners

ARC has held four energy grant competitions focusing on a range of activities, including renewable energy production, energy-efficient construction, community energy planning, and energy education programming. Over the four competitions, ARC has received 189 applications from all 13 states, for a total of $10.3 million in requested funds. Applicants have included municipalities, nonprofits, public school systems, colleges, and trade associations. In total, ARC has provided grant-competition funding of $2.5 million for 49 projects, 23 of which target ARC-designated distressed or at-risk counties.

The grant competitions have focused on the following topics:
2010: Community Energy Planning and Implementation
2009: Energy Education and Training
2008: Renewable-Energy Production and Energy-Efficient Development
2007: Renewable-Energy Production and Energy-Efficient Development

2010 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant Competition Winners
2009 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant Competition Winners
2008 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant Competition Winners
2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant Competition Winners


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