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A report by Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology concluded that the adoption of strong energy efficiency initiatives in the South would generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs, cut utility bills, sustain economic growth, and reduce the need for new power plants.

Founded in 2006, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) advances the types of initiatives studied in the report. SEEA has established itself as a trusted, reliable, and expert resource when working with an array of unlikely allies in the 11-state Southeast region: from utilities, manufacturers, and government leaders to energy and environmental organizations, low-income energy advocates, and universities.

When Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant started work on the state’s first comprehensive energy plan in early 2012, SEEA organizers saw an opportunity. They met with lead staff members to share expertise, provide planning tools, and craft a suite of initiatives that would help the state meet its energy efficiency goals. That included new building codes, which save consumers money, reduce pollution, increase reliability, and provide quality and comfort.

In addition to serving as a go-to resource for state leaders, SEEA looked ahead and helped prepare those who would would be key to successful implementation of the new codes, which in turn helped support for their adoption. Organizers trained building code officials in enforcement best practices, discussed the new codes at a meeting of the Building Officials Association, and served on an educational panel alongside officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority and Mississippi Power at an event sponsored by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

In April, the Mississippi legislature adopted landmark pieces of legislation that strengthen the state’s investment in energy efficiency infrastructure. That included replacing an optional and outdated building code from 1975 with one of the most stringent model codes for commercial and public buildings (ASHRAE 90.1-2010).

For years, the state has occupied the lowest position in the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, the industry authority for tracking state-level energy efficiency activities.

That’s about to change.

 

Photo credit: SEEA president Mandy Mahoney speaks at an event. Photo courtesy of SEEA.