SEU Highlighted by the IEA

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Photo courtesy of Anthony Quintano. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Stressing the need for “fast, radical, and effective policy action”, the IEA has featured one of FREE’s flagship innovations, the SEU model, in its annual Energy Technology Perspectives publication.

The Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) model has been featured in Energy Technology Perspectives (2016) by the International Energy Agency (IEA1)! The 2016 iteration of this annual publication series sees the Paris climate change agreement as a “historic turning point” as long as ambition is turned into “fast, radical, and effective policy action”. In this regard, the IEA publication positions urban energy transformation as a critical factor in realizing this ambition and notes that the SEU model has demonstrated its capacity “to address many barriers to tapping into the local sustainable energy potential”. The IEA’s recognition is encouraging as FREE labors endeavors to create SEUs in the U.S. and abroad. The IEA feature of the SEU model is also in good company: earlier announcements by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the White House similarly underscored the potential contribution of the SEU model (see Table below).

Launched at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris, FREE’s new three-pronged strategy agrees with the IEA assessment of the importance of local governments as the strategy positions cities, large-scale change and creativity as key in fulfilling stated climate change ambition. The SEU model is an essential element in the strategy. This position is supported by recent research by FREE investigators showing that the SEU model a) outperforms conventional energy utilities; b) can be used to reimagine the cities as power plants; and c) exceeds expectations as first-year performance of the Delaware Sustainable Energy Bond Series delivered savings over and beyond the 25% energy consumption reduction guarantee by 3% or more.

FREE currently assists communities in South Korea, China, California, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands to help them establish innovative SEU-style public/private partnerships. These efforts include the planned roll-out of the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Finance Program (PennSEF) – a next iteration of the SEU’s innovative strategy that brings together local governments, energy service companies, and FREE’s energy, legal, and finance experts to enable ‘deep’ energy savings and on-site renewable energy generation planning.

Source Quote Date
International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy Technology Perspectives 2016 The Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) has demonstrated its capacity “to address many barriers to tapping into the local sustainable energy potential” 2016
The White House “the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) [is] a one-stop shop for […] energy efficiency solutions” December 02, 2011
Asian Development Bank Communiqué As part of the priority to facilitate the scale-up of energy efficiency and renewable energy, the Communique recommends policy-makers to consider “establishing a Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU). […] to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy as infrastructure investments” June 24, 2011

Further Reading:

IEA (2016). Energy Technology Perspectives 2016 – Towards Sustainable Urban Energy Systems. OECD/IEA Publishing, 2016: Paris, France.

The White House (2011). We Can’t Wait: President Obama Announces Nearly $4 billion Investment in Energy Upgrades to Public and Private Buildings. The White House Office of the Press Secretary, December 02, 2011.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) (2011). Asia-Pacific Dialogue on Clean Energy Governance, Policy, and Regulation. Communiqué – Special Roundtable to Develop a Regional Plan of Action for Clean Energy Governance, Policy, and Regulation. ADB: Manila, Philippines. June 24, 2011.


1. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation that pursues reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond. Originally founded with the task to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply in the wake of the 1973/1974 oil crisis, the IEA has since embraced a much broader task of investigating the full mix of energy resources. More information about the IEA can be found at: www.iea.org

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