Energy program

Downstream Strategies analyzes energy markets and the impacts of energy development on economies and the environment. We support strategic approaches to energy and climate change by developing plans, policies, and projects that are grounded in economic and policy analyses. We also assist communities and individuals in developing localized energy and economic transition strategies.

Project spotlight

Mountain Maryland Energy Advisory Committee Final Report (2015)

This final report documents the work completed by the Mountain Maryland Energy Advisory Committee, a county-sponsored work group that met between December 2013 and May 2015. The committee was established to advise the Board of County Commissioners of Garrett County and Allegany County, Maryland on local and state policies, regulations, programs, and legislation to help guide energy planning, with the goal of maximizing likely positive effects and minimizing potentially negative consequences of energy development.

Our services and skills

Economic and policy analyses

  • Economic impact of existing and potential energy development
  • Market barriers assessment
  • Energy and environmental policy analyses
  • Policy development
  • Economic and fiscal policy studies
  • Expert testimony and support for economic and energy policy

Carbon Dioxide Emission Reduction Opportunities for the West Virginia Power Sector: Discussion Paper (2014)


Clean Power Plan

This discussion paper reviews EPA’s proposed rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants and presents policy recommendations on steps West Virginia could take to comply with these rules while also capturing the economic, social, and environmental benefits of expanding the state’s energy economy. This paper is part of a Center for Energy & Sustainable Development initiative to develop sustainable solutions for the economic, energy, and climate challenges facing West Virginia. The initiative is supported through a grant from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.

Strategic energy planning and analyses

  • Quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses
  • Energy development and market trends analyses
  • Economic cost of energy development
  • Energy technology analyses
  • Fuel consumption and resource assessments
  • Energy opportunities assessment for renewables and efficiency
  • Distributed energy development and feasibility studies
  • Scenario development and alternative energy futures
  • Environmental impact of energy development and lifecycle environmental impact assessments
    • Criteria and hazardous air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases
    • Water quality
    • Land impacts
  • Analyses of energy-related permits
  • Environmental sustainability of energy options and activities
  • Ecosystem services valuation

The Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy in Kentucky (2012)


Graph of Decline of Coal

Funded by the Blue Moon Fund, this report provides information and analysis illustrating the opportunities for developing distributed forms of renewable energy in Kentucky and finds that Kentucky has enough renewable energy resources to provide at least 34% of the state's electricity generation in 2025. Distributed energy generation is defined as the generation of electricity and heat, or the capture and reuse of waste heat, at or near the point of consumption. The technologies and related resources examined for this report include solar photovoltaic electricity, solar heating and cooling, small and community-owned wind power, forest biomass, combined heat and power, landfill gas-to-energy, small and low-power hydroelectric, and geothermal heating.

Economic diversification and transition

  • Identification and support of economic transition opportunities
  • Asset-based economic development support
  • Value-added opportunities identification and planning
  • Examination of barriers to economic and energy development
  • Analyses of land use and ownership patterns

Alderson Community Energy Plan


Building in Alderson, WVAs energy costs rise across Appalachia, local governments are examining ways to increase efficiency and stabilize costs while also promoting the development of new economic opportunities. Two ways to achieve these goals are by improving the energy efficiency of aging public buildings and installing solar panels to replace traditional fuels whose prices are increasingly volatile. This project, headed by the Town of Alderson, resulted in the development and adoption of a Community Energy Plan for Alderson, West Virginia. The plan details a strategy for achieving targets of 10% in energy efficiency improvements and 5% in renewable energy generation for public buildings. The Alderson Community Energy Plan provides a model for sustainable energy and economic development that may be adapted for other towns and counties across the Appalachian region.

Climate policy and mitigation strategies

  • Greenhouse gas inventories
  • Lifecycle climate impacts of energy development
  • Impacts of climate policies on energy portfolios
  • Economic feasibility of mitigation options
  • Climate mitigation and greenhouse gas reduction planning
  • Cost-benefit analyses of alternative reduction and mitigation strategies
  • Analyses and support for purchasing or selling carbon offsets and renewable energy credits
  • Technology assessments

A Windfall for Coal Country? Exploring the Barriers to Wind Development in Appalachia (2012)


Map of wind resources and whtie nose syndrome pathways

Several coal-producing states in Appalachian also boast significant wind resources. This report identifies barriers to wind development in Appalachia and suggests methods and strategies for overcoming these barriers. Barriers include those related to geography, environmental impacts, policies, and economics. The report concludes that there are many opportunities for wind development in Appalachia, even in its coal-producing counties. This report was produced in partnership with The Mountain Institute, with funding from the US Department of Energy.

Renewable energy and efficiency project development

  • Performance modeling
  • Energy audits
  • Community ownership strategies
  • Government and utility communications
  • Contracting services
  • Analyses of strategic and creative financing options
  • Feasibility and benefit studies

West Virginia Agricultural and Rural Small Business Energy Audit Program


Downstream Strategies is assisting a team at West Virginia University in delivering energy audits for agricultural producers and rural small businesses in West Virginia. Reports include energy analyses and efficiency recommendations identified as a result of examining utility bills and building layouts, conducting building walk-throughs with occupants, examining energy consuming equipment and processes, and acquiring data through measurement devices.

Geographic Information Systems

  • NEPA project support and analyses
  • Natural resource analyses and quantification
  • Renewable energy project siting and analyses
  • Renewable energy resource analyses
  • Economic viability analyses
  • Land use and ownership analyses
  • Energy corridor and routing studies
  • Carbon sequestration assessments
  • Gas production modeling
  • Viewshed analyses
  • Alternative future modeling
  • Decision support tools
  • Energy conservation studies

Mountaintop Removal Case Study: Pine Creek No. 1 Surface Mine Logan County, West Virginia (2010)


Map of Pine Creek permit in Logan County

This report analyzes the potential impacts on water resources that would result from the operation of Mingo-Logan Coal Company’s Pine Creek No. 1 surface mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The report also provides an assessment of how the US Environmental Protection Agency’s April 1, 2010 guidance on the permitting of surface mines and valley fills should apply to the Pine Creek No. 1 permit.

Stakeholder involvement and perspectives

  • Qualitative research such as interviews, focus groups, content analyses, and case studies
  • Quantitative social science research such as survey design, execution, and analyses
  • Community visioning as a foundation for energy planning
  • Facilitation and conference planning
  • Development of strategic partnerships
  • Curricula and outreach material development
  • Education and outreach in the classroom and field
  • Training and technical assistance

Mountain Maryland Energy Advisory Committee


Deep Creek Lake

We provide support to the Mountain Maryland Energy Advisory Committee to identify and research diverse energy strategies for western Maryland. We facilitate monthly meetings with local stakeholders and the general public and assist in the preparation of policy recommendations for regional leaders. Potential diversification strategies that have been explored include solar energy initiatives, biomass energy systems, and energy efficiency measures, among others.