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WSU Extension Energy Program Tapped to Run U.S. Department of Energy’s Recovery Act Clearinghouse

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State University Extension Energy Program — based out of Olympia, Wash. — has been selected to manage and operate the U.S. Department of Energy’s Recovery Act Clearinghouse.

The Recovery Act Clearinghouse offers the public information on the Department’s efforts to implement President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Customers can call a toll-free hotline, visit a website or submit questions online.

“As part of its strong commitment to transparency, the Department of Energy is working with Washington State University to provide an easily accessible information resource for the American public,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “People from across the country will be able to call a toll-free number or go online to find out how the Recovery Act is being implemented by the Department of Energy and get answers to their questions.”

Staff of the Clearinghouse provide initial consultations and make referrals to key resources.

“As recovery funding makes its way into our local communities and creates jobs, it is critical that taxpayers have the ability to see where their money is going and how it is boosting the economy,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “The WSU Extension Energy Program has the resources and personnel to help taxpayers get the information they need, and I am very excited that they have been chosen to run the Clearinghouse.”

In addition to their efforts with the Recovery Act, the WSU Extension Energy Program provides information center technical assistance to a variety of energy programs, including other offices within the Department of Energy.

“I commend WSU for taking on the important role of managing this call center. This center is a tremendous benefit to Washington and a clear indicator of Washington’s pivotal role in the national energy agenda,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The program’s staff — customer service representatives, energy specialists, engineers, software developers, and research librarians — are trained to field questions from across the country.

“Our staff members provide energy technical assistance and resources to the nation – and we have done so for nearly 20 years,” said Jake Fey, Director of the WSU Extension Energy Program. “And, we are thrilled to play a pivotal new role in supporting such an unprecedented energy effort in the United States.”

The new Clearinghouse expands DOE’s existing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Information Center — already managed and operated by the WSU Extension Energy Program. Both the EERE Information Center and Recovery Act Clearinghouse are committed to providing the public with information that can help them reduce energy use, increase energy efficiency, and move the country toward a clean energy future.

Since January 2004, the EERE Information Center has served as a front door to an extensive portfolio of resources for improving energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

“It receives about 20,000 inquiries per year from consumers and homeowners, businesses, utilities, K-12 schools, universities, laboratories, state and local governments, tribes, federal agencies, federal facilities, and trade and professional organizations,” said Fey. “Our ongoing EERE Information Center work is just one area where our organization is making a real difference in the energy arena.”

Other program areas for the WSU Extension Energy Program include applied building science, commercial and industrial engineering, climate and rural energy development, resource conservation management, energy efficiency software development, renewable energy and other clearinghouses.

“Over the years, we have answered more than 150,000 inquiries from commercial businesses, manufacturers, state and local governments, federal facilities, utilities, and more,” said Dr. Lee Link, Division Manager for WSU’s Clearinghouse and Engineering Services Division. “Now — with the addition of the DOE Recovery Act Clearinghouse — we are able to assist customers in a different way.”

Over 5,000 DOE Recovery Act Clearinghouse inquiries have already been answered, said Link. “We expect up to 15,000 inquiries this year.” The most frequent customers since February are cities and counties, commercial businesses, consultants, trade and professional organizations and associations, he added.

The areas of energy information provided to customers by the DOE Recovery Act Clearinghouse include the following topic areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric and hybrid vehicles, smart grid, advanced research, science, environmental management, fossil energy and the DOE loan guarantee program.

To contact the DOE Recovery Act Clearinghouse, there are several options:
Website and online inquiry form:
Toll-Free Number: 1-888-DOE-RCVY (1-888-363-7289)

The WSU Extension Energy Program is a self-supported department within WSU. It receives project funding from federal government agencies, federal power marketing agencies, public and private utilities, the private sector and several other sources. It houses approximately 70 employees in Olympia, Spokane and other satellite offices, and its customers include industrial plant managers, private consultants, commercial businesses, government agencies, national laboratories and utilities.