Top Ten Accomplishments in 2015
You can also view a timeline of our accomplishments since 1984.
1. Informed Congress and the policy community about EPA's Clean Power Plan, examining options for states and low-income communities
EESI convened three briefings to examine key policy and legal issues associated with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, finalized in August 2015 but placed on hold by the Supreme Court in February 2016. The Clean Power Plan is the first time carbon emissions from existing power plants, which accounted for 38.7 percent of domestic carbon emissions in 2014, would be limited in the United States. EESI kicked off the series with a look at the legal issues, with a briefing entitled, EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Will it Work and Will it Be Upheld? In another briefing, EESI dug into the issue of state compliance with How Are States Planning to Comply With the Clean Power Plan? The three briefings were covered in multiple media outlets, including ClimateWire, Fierce Energy, Penn Energy, and The Washington Examiner. One of the briefings—How Can States Comply with the Clean Power Plan?—was carried live on C-Span. EESI's Executive Director Carol Werner called the Clean Power Plan "a real opportunity for states," which can take advantage of clean energy and energy efficiency measures to grow their economies and create well-paid, local jobs. In 2016, EESI has continued to examine issues associated with the Clean Power Plan, including impacts and opportunities for low-income communities and communities of color.
2. Became a "go-to" organization for rural electric utilities launching on-bill financing programs for clean energy home upgrades
EESI’s On-Bill Financing Assistance Project is an ongoing initiative aimed at helping families reduce their energy usage, cut energy bills, and improve home comfort—all with no upfront costs. EESI achieves this by working with municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives to establish "on-bill financing" programs: households borrow money to upgrade their homes, and repay the loans through a monthly charge on their utility bills. In 2015, EESI's partnerships with utilities in Michigan and Iowa led to the development of on-bill financing programs with utilities in those states, with additional promising opportunities in Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Missouri. EESI will continue to offer technical assistance to utilities in 2016 and beyond to promote this approach to financing for energy efficiency, as well as community solar. The White House sees on-bill financing as a key, low-cost way for states to meet the Clean Power Plan's goals and help families struggling with high electricity bills; it has asked EESI to help make its rural energy efficiency loan program friendlier to potential borrowers. And, the National Research Council held a two-day workshop drawn from EESI's briefings on rural cooperative clean energy strategies.
3. Brought attention to the health dangers of gasoline emissions
EESI called attention to the pressing need to clean up our vehicle fuels, both to protect the climate and to protect our health. In addition to representing 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, tailpipe emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles release ground-level ozone and other potent air toxics, such as particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These pollutants have been linked to a host of health and developmental issues, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cardio-pulmonary effects, and cancers. Auto manufacturers say new efficient-engine technology needs cleaner fuels to achieve better performance. To inform the EPA and the public on ths, EESI organized briefings and published fact sheets, press releases, and an op-ed.
4. Called for action to help communities face the impacts of climate change
Communities are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including increases in extreme weather and rising sea levels. Many of these communities do not have the resources to respond to climate impacts through adaptation strategies to improve their resilience, making federal assistance critical for them. EESI's series of four briefings and one issue brief made the case for climate change adaptation and increased resilience, and provided options for action. Better preparedness saves lives and money. For every $1 spent in disaster preparation and planning, U.S. taxpayers save $4 in recovery costs after an extreme weather event.
5. Helped “pave the way” for mass transit increases in the new Transportation Bill
A series of briefings at the beginning of the year, and behind-the-scenes collaboration with key Congressional offices, helped pave the way for a bipartisan six-year Transportation Bill with strong support for mass transit. EESI's Hill briefings, held in partnership with the American Public Transportation Association, focused on the investment needs of the mass transit system. EESI’s well-crafted panels had speakers who emphasized that such investments would be very worthwhile: every $1 spent on mass transit results in $4 in economic benefits. The 2015 Transportation Bill increases spending on transit programs from $8.6 billion to $10.6 billion in 2020—a 23 percent rise—and also increases funding for pedestrian and bicycle programs, a win for public health, mobility options, air pollution, and the climate.
6. Earned a Top 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator and a Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits
EESI was deemed a Four Star Charity (the highest possible rating) by the nation’s premiere charity evaluator, Charity Navigator, for the ninth time since 2005. According to Charity Navigator President Ken Berger, "the Environmental and Energy Study Institute outperforms most other charities in America." EESI earned the highest possible score (100) on accountability and transparency measures. EESI was also proud to earn a 2015 Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits, the Yelp of the nonprofit world, for the fifth year in a row.
7. Showcased the growth and success of energy efficiency and renewable energy industries in bipartisan Congressional Expo
EESI played a fundamental role in organizing the Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo, which showcased a cross-section of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to more than 800 attendees. Held in partnership with the House and Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses, the Expo brought together 46 companies/organizations, six Administration officials, and seven Members of Congress (from both sides of the aisle). EESI also showcased renewables in several briefings (see list, including Find Out How Many Solar Jobs Were Created in Your State and Offshore Wind: Can the U.S. Catch Up with Europe?) and fact sheets (Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, 2015; Fuel Cells). The Expo's policy forum and all of these briefings were livestreamed, reaching a diverse audience of hundreds more across the country.
8. Helped increase federal funding for energy efficiency in buildings
EESI put energy efficiency in buildings front and center in 2015, and it paid off! Federal funding for the Building Technologies Office, part of the Department of Energy, increased 16.57 percent. This action came after an EESI briefing focused specifically on the Office’s budget request for 2016. Reducing U.S. building energy consumption would have a major impact, as buildings represent 40 percent of the total energy used in the United States and 70 percent of U.S. electricity usage. EESI also substantially expanded the number of exhibitors from the buildings industry at the 2015 Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo. Making buildings and the products that go into them more energy efficient will save billions of dollars each year, improve comfort, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
9. Emphasized the federal budget's critical role in moving to a sustainable economy
At the request of the bipartisan House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus, EESI publishes an issue brief and convenes a Congressional briefing every year to examine the proposed federal budget's impact on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The federal government plays a critical role in funding early-stage research and development that the private sector is often incapable or unwilling to undertake, and as a market for clean technologies as the federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the country. Demystifying these complex documents for Congress, so that it will have a better understanding of the benefits of clean energy spending, is more important than ever.
10. Examined China's climate actions and renewable energy initiatives.
EESI worked in collaboration with the ChinaFAQs Project of the World Resources Institute to examine the actions China is taking on climate change and clean energy, as well as U.S.-Chinese cooperation on these issues. Always a contentious Congressional issue, China has been the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide since 2007, when it overtook the United States. China will play a critical role as the international community seeks to keep global warming well below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as agreed during the Paris climate conference in December. EESI's briefing on China's actions, and an op-ed by EESI Executive Director Carol Werner in The Hill, made it clear that the United States is not alone in tackling climate change.