The Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) was established in 2009 with the help of a successful, joint grant application submitted by the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle to the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) for an award of $500,000. LEAP works to provide a one-stop shop for information on options, energy service providers, financing, and financial assistance for residential and commercial energy efficiency retrofits that create more comfortable, healthy and affordable homes and buildings.
Leading up to the SEEA grant application, the City of Charlottesville had established a commitment to greenhouse gas emissions reductions through the City Council’s unanimous endorsement of the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (2006), completion of its first community greenhouse gas emissions baseline report (2008) which provided an overview of emissions resulting from activities within the Charlottesville community as well as emissions projections based on a business-as-usual growth scenario and energy use forecasts , inclusion of climate protection goals and objectives in the 2007 Comprehensive Plan, and the issuance of the City Council’s 2025 Vision of a “Green City” with components addressing clean air and energy efficient buildings (2009).
Looking forward and examining other energy efficiency program models, it became apparent that the success of a local energy efficiency program was reliant upon to its ability to be agile and market-responsive, provide efficiencies of scale, and provide staff for the programs. Unlike government organizations, a stand-alone entity working in partnership with local government would be able to offer these aspects while still leveraging government’s capacity for relationship building and access to funding sources. Recognizing this necessity, the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle worked cooperatively with numerous local and regional stakeholders to establish LEAP as a community-based nonprofit with an alliance organizational model and the vision of being a key player in the community’s efforts to achieve its energy use and emissions reduction goals. An alliance model was chosen for the organization in order to embrace and represent a central ethic of community service, community-based nonprofit and working partnership with local government, utilities, financing institutions, other nonprofits, and contractors.
LEAP serves local communities in Central Virginia including the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson Counties and has expanded its service area to serve localities in Northern Virginia. LEAP’s mission is to lead the effort in our local community to conserve energy and water in buildings as a way to promote cost savings, job creation, local economic development, healthy communities, and environmental stewardship.