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P.A. Capdau Charter School

August 8, 2007 - 3:16pm

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Prepared Remarks for Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Principal Mitchell, for your kind introduction.  I am glad to be back here in New Orleans to witness the tremendous progress all of you have made after the devastating events of two years ago.

I am here not only to commend your efforts but also to state my commitment and the Department of Energy's commitment to the continued rebuilding effort.

With great challenges come great opportunities.  While there are tangible losses to grieve over when such devastation occurs, the resilient American spirit also finds unique ways to maximize any positive impact.  In this case, the chance to rebuild much of the physical infrastructure that has been lost, puts your city in a position to lead by example in many new areas, with better designs and better technologies.

One of the greatest opportunities - and one of the greatest challenges - we face together as a nation is the need to find and develop new energy sources.

There are a variety of ways in which the Department of Energy is pursuing solutions to this challenge.  For example, through the Advanced Energy Initiative, the President has committed substantial resources to further increasing U.S. energy security through greater reliance on renewable and alternative energy sources. And the President's Twenty in Ten Initiative aims to reduce U.S. projected gasoline consumption by 20 percent within a decade through increased efficiency and greater reliance on clean alternative fuels.

No place knows better than Louisiana that new energy sources must be continuously developed, and develop them we will.  But we must also look to the largest source of immediately available "new" energy: the energy we waste every day.  Indeed, energy efficiency is the cheapest, most abundant, cleanest source of energy we can access.

DOE is actively engaged in various efforts to enhance energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy, in all areas of the country.  The Department's Building Technologies Program works in partnership with states, industry, and manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of our nation's buildings.  Through innovative new efficiency and distributed generation technologies, we are seeking to fundamentally transform the built environment.

To "change the way we power our homes and offices," we will seek to change the way we design, build and operate the approximately 15 million new buildings projected to be constructed within the decade.

It makes sense to focus on the buildings we use and value most: our civic infrastructure, hospitals, town halls and, of course, our school buildings, like the one we are in today.  DOE's "EnergySmart Schools" Program helps reduce schools' energy use and expenses, and provides a better learning environment for our children and a better environment for us all.

Through this program, we can help school districts by disseminating financing opportunities, providing training to building industry professionals, and weaving together broad networks of public and private partners.

Right here in New Orleans, through the EnergySmart Schools Program, we are partnering with state and local school officials to incorporate cost-effective energy efficiency measures into rebuilding the core of every community in America: our schools.  I particularly want to thank state Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek and Superintendent of the New Orleans Recovery School District Paul Vallas, for their partnership and leadership in this endeavor.

The EnergySmart Schools Program facilitates the construction of new schools to achieve 30% greater efficiency -- according to specialized design guides developed with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers --- or ASHRAE, as the organization is known --- and the American Institute of Architects.

Our EnergySmart Schools Program not only promotes energy efficiency in new and existing K-12 facilities - reducing energy use and costs and improving the learning environment -but it also provides tools to help ensure that precious funding for learning is maximized, while expenses on energy overhead are minimized.

Just two weeks ago, State Superintendent Pastorek announced the planned construction of five new EnergySmart schools in New Orleans.  And we are committed to working together with Superintendent Pastorek to help ensure that these schools represent a model of energy efficiency for other schools across the state and across the country.

Retrofitting existing schools is a very different challenge than constructing new buildings where you have an opportunity to start with a clean slate.  I am pleased to announce that the Department of Energy is also committing $1.5 million to provide comprehensive energy assessments on all existing New Orleans' schools - as many as 75.

These audits will provide a baseline for the necessary technical information to renovate these schools in the most efficient way possible, leading to sustainable cost savings and a cleaner sustainable environment --- key elements of the DOE's EnergySmart Schools initiative.

I also want to highlight the Department of Energy's collaboration with Entergy New Orleans - as well as other stakeholder organizations - in the New Orleans Solar Schools Initiative.  Under this initiative, four schools selected by Entergy will receive 25-kW solar photovoltaic systems.  DOE's comprehensive energy audits of these schools will help maximize the solar energy produced by these systems.  In fact, we have already started; DOE audited this very school, P.A. Capdau, just last week.

The recommendations from these assessments will help the schools maximize the value of their solar panels because the renewable power will go far further if efficiency measures reduce wasted electricity.  In addition to the considerable cost and energy savings that will result from this project, the solar panels will serve as educational tools, providing a basis for teaching students about clean, secure renewable energy and the wisdom of prioritizing energy efficiency.

Many of you know that New Orleans joined a prestigious list of cities as a "Solar America City," recognized by the Department of Energy's competitive Solar America Initiative.  We will be working with the City of New Orleans and providing it with technical assistance and policy expertise as the City works to address barriers to the adoption of solar electricity and educate its citizens about solar options.

Both the city and the state of Louisiana are already taking progressive action in the solar policy arena, and I commend the leadership that officials are continuing to demonstrate.

I also encourage Entergy and the New Orleans City Council to work towards creating an environment where utility companies can be incentivized to encourage energy efficiency.  After all, end use efficiency is cheaper and cleaner than building a new power plant, so efficiency measures ultimately save the utility companies and communities significant money and avoid unnecessary pollutants.

In light of the partnerships we are highlighting today, I would like to take a moment to recognize and salute the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Executive Director Andy Kopplin and Board Members John Brewster and Donna Fraiche for critical leadership in the area of energy efficiency, and greening the built environment.

Andy has worked tirelessly to address key financial barriers to implementing new statewide building codes, including partnering with the Governor, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and FEMA to provide $14 million to help local governments implement the new codes.

Before the storms, Louisiana had no state residential building codes at all.  Today its superior, "state-of-the-art" residential and modernized commercial building codes make it a national leader.  The results of this enormous and speedy change should not be underestimated.

Today, we celebrate the construction of model schools here in New Orleans that can inspire and educate schools across America.  DOE looks forward to a continued partnership with New Orleans and the State of Louisiana to help rebuild its schools as pillars of the community - vital as they are to the success of our next generation.

Thank you very much. Now I'd like to present to the Louisiana Recovery Authority's Executive Director Andy Kopplin an award of achievement.

Location: New Orleans, LA

Media contact(s): Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940

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