Last week, House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved separate and distinct versions of a Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. The legislation sets spending levels for DOE, among other agencies, and specific programs such as the State Energy Program (SEP).

The SEP is administered by DOE, and provides funding to states for use by State Energy Offices. According to the National Association of State Energy Officers (NASEO), with “SEP funds and the resources leveraged by them, the 56 State and Territory Energy Offices develop and manage strategic programs that support the private sector in increasing energy efficiency, developing renewable and alternative energy sources, promoting energy related economic development, and reducing reliance on imported oil. All of the activities of the states under the program are conducted in support of strengthening America’s competitive position and energy security.” NASEO’s website points to more than $1.3 billion in energy savings nationwide from SEP-funded programs.

The House bill recommends “$25,000,000 for the State Energy Program (SEP), [which is] $25,000,000 below fiscal year 2012 and $24,000,000 below the request,” according to NASEO. In contrast, the Senate bill “includes $50 million for SEP, $1M more than the Administration’s request.”

How important is the State Energy Program? Which funding scenario is the more likely outcome? How would a reduced FY13 budget impact the State Energy Program, and state efforts to meet energy policy goals?