Economy & Economic Development  March 8, 2024

At Louisville plant, energy secretary announces new clean-energy grants

LOUISVILLE — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Friday announced $425 million in funding to help small and medium-sized companies reduce industrial emissions and advance clean-energy manufacturing.

The announcement came at the end of a factory tour at Alpen High Performance Products Inc., which manufactures energy-efficient windows. Alpen and federal officials are completing negotiations to receive nearly $6 million for expansion as part of the first round of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling grant program.

“We are announcing Round Two of the grant program that you guys got the first round assignment for,” Granholm told Alpen officials, adding that the second round is targeting industrial decarbonization at businesses that have located in former coal-industry communities.

“This next round is … a little bit different, but it’s for the companies themselves to decarbonize. So maybe companies will want to purchase high-performance windows in order to achieve those goals.”

Alpen was selected to receive the federal funds to manufacture triple- and quadruple pane insulated glass units and increase the supply of low-cost, energy-efficient window options.

“It’s transformative. It’s a really big deal,” said Alpen CEO Andrew Zech. “What we’re doing with the DOE money, we’re pairing that 2-to-1 with private investment, so it’s going to be a total of $18 million. That is allowing us to increase production tenfold. We’re going to be able to multiply our window production,”

Although the award is not quite a done deal, Zech said, “I think we are pretty firmly down the fairway in terms of what they’re looking to do.”

Granholm said President Joe Biden “is obsessed with bringing down costs for real people. What you’re doing here to reduce people’s energy bills is so important. We want to democratize high-performance windows so that everybody has access.”

The grants are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress, she said. “There are big companies that are taking advantage of these grants too, but we really are focused on medium and smaller businesses, because they’re the ones who are competing globally and who need to have a partnership. These grants are government-enabled but private-sector led.”

The first round of grants represented $275 million of federal investments across seven selected projects in seven states.

Industrial decarbonization, which is a new area of interest for the second round of the program, is focused on building or upgrading manufacturing facilities to substantially reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and create low carbon materials. Projects under this funding program, across either area of interest, must occur in communities where coal mines have closed since Dec. 31, 1999, or coal-fired power plants have closed since Dec. 31, 2009.  

All applicants are required to submit a plan demonstrating the project’s quantifiable impact and benefits to the workers and the local community.

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Brad Begin, left, board chairman for Alpen High-Performance Products, talks about the Louisville company’s work during a factory tour Friday in Louisville. Listening are Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and a pair of Alpen officials: Craig Maierhofer, vice president for business development; and CEO Andrew Zech, right. Dallas Heltzell/BizWest.
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As Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm listens, board chairman Brad Begin describes the processes that Alpen High Performance Products Inc. uses to manufacture energy-efficient windows during a factory tour Friday in Louisville. Dallas Heltzell/BizWest.
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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm examines energy-efficient windows during a factory tour at Alpen High Performance Products Inc. in Louisville on Friday, Dallas Heltzell/BizWest.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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