T&D World Magazine

Obama Administration Announces More than $38 Million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects in Alaska, Kansas, Utah and West Virginia

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday that more than $38 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was being awarded to four states to support energy efficiency and conservation activities. Under DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, these states – Alaska, Kansas, Utah and West Virginia - will implement programs that lower energy use, reduce carbon pollution, and create green jobs locally.

The awards to the State Energy Offices will be used to support state-level energy efficiency priorities, along with funding local conservation projects in smaller cities and counties. At least 60 percent of each state’s award will be passed through to local cities and counties not eligible for direct EECBG awards from the Department of Energy. The EECBG Program was funded for the first time by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and provides formula grants to states, cities, counties, territories and federally-recognized Indian tribes nationwide to implement energy efficiency projects locally.

Projects eligible for support include the development of an energy efficiency and conservation strategy, energy efficiency audits and retrofits, transportation programs, the creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements, the development and implementation of advanced building codes and inspections, and installation of renewable energy technologies on municipal buildings.

Transparency and accountability are important priorities for the EECBG program and all Recovery Act projects. All grantees have specific measures they must take before spending the full amount of awarded funding, such as ensuring oversight and transparency, submitting a conservation strategy to the Department of Energy, and complying with environmental regulations.

Throughout the program’s implementation, DOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and tribal level, while emphasizing the need to quickly award funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies. Communities will be required to report regularly to DOE on the progress they have made toward successfully completing projects and reaching program goals.

For a full list of awards to date, visit the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants Program.

DOE announced today that the following states are receiving their state-level EECBG awards:

ALASKA - $9,593,500 awarded
Alaska will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in local communities across the state, including energy audits and building retrofits, transportation efficiency programs, and installations of renewable energy technologies on government buildings. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation will work in coordination with the Alaska Energy Authority to administer the funding, including competitively passing a majority of the state’s funding onto local cities and counties.

Promoting efficiency in local communities is particularly important in Alaska, which faces very high electricity and heating costs, and has more than 180 villages that are only accessible by water or air and have to operate independent, stand alone electric grids. Under the EECBG program, community-owned facilities, city offices, health clinics and other buildings will be able to access funding for building retrofits and other efficiency projects, which will reduce energy consumption and save money for rural Alaskans.

Alaska will put its remaining EECBG funds toward a variety of initiatives, including an energy efficiency public education program, energy data management, waste heat capture projects from power plants in rural communities, and the establishment of a Technical Energy Advisory Group. Overall, these Recovery Act-funded projects will lead to substantial energy and cost savings, and create or save more than 75 green jobs statewide.

KANSAS - $9,593,500 awarded
Kansas will use its Recovery Act EECBG funds to implement a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives in both the public and private sector, including building retrofits, direct incentives for renewable energy projects, and support for local government energy managers. These projects will reduce energy consumption, limit carbon pollution, and create hundreds of jobs statewide.

Recovery Act funding will provide direct grants to cities and counties to encourage broader participation in the state’s existing Facility Conservation Improvement Program (FCIP), which helps local governments implement energy performance contracts with energy service companies. The state will also encourage local communities to install alternative energy generating systems (wind, solar, fuel cell or bio-based), by offering competitive grants for up to 25 percent of the cost. These grants will leverage private sector investments and are expected to support more than $11 million in new renewable energy projects. With the remaining Recovery Act funds, the state will allow local units of governments to compete for funding to hire energy managers.

UTAH - $9,593,500 awarded
Utah will use its Recovery Act EECBG funds to improve energy efficiency and reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions in communities throughout the state. Utah will direct all of its State Energy Program funding to local city and county governments that did not receive direct EECBG grants from the Department of Energy. Awards will be based upon a competitive process that will choose a wide variety of projects focused on meeting community needs for energy efficiency, conservation, and job creation.

The Utah State Energy Office will administer this program, awarding funds in two general areas. First, grants to local cities and counties to develop community and building energy efficiency strategies, monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and innovative policies that will promote energy efficiency and conservation. Second, funding will support the implementation of a range of efficiency initiatives, including energy efficiency retrofits, installing on-site renewable energy technologies for existing buildings, replacing traffic signals and street lights with energy efficient lighting, and other energy efficiency improvements. Utah’s Recovery Act-funded projects will lead to substantial energy and cost savings and will create nearly 100 jobs statewide.

WEST VIRGINIA - $9,593,500 awarded
West Virginia will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to empower local governments and communities with the knowledge and resources they need to improve building energy efficiency. Through its Local Government Grant Program (LGGP), the West Virginia Department of Energy will work with the state’s eleven regional planning and development councils to coordinate and distribute nearly $9 million for local energy retrofit projects.

EECBG funding will also support local training and education initiatives. The West Virginia University Industrial Assessment Center, which has significant experience advising business and industry, will help local city and county governments in understanding energy efficiency measures, and their costs and benefits.

Additionally, the state’s Building Energy Collaborative will use EECBG funds to work with local stakeholders – including contractors, realtors, building inspectors, product suppliers, and city and county officials - to determine how to most effectively implement and enforce building codes.

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