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California Energy Commission Releases Guidelines on Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants for Small Cities and Counties

On September 16, the California Energy Commission (CEC) released long-awaited guidance on grant allocations for small cities and counties, defined as those cities with a population of less than 35,000 and those counties with a population of less than 200,000, under the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, one of the DOE’s stimulus act (the American Reinvestment and Recover Act, or “ARRA”) programs.

Under federal law, the CEC is required to allocate 60% of its federal funding directly to small cities and counties. For California, this results in approximately $30 million for the 265 small cities and 44 small counties that are eligible under the program. Individual anticipated allocations to small cities and counties are based on population, with extra funding based on unemployment figures. The CEC guidance will assist small cities and counties in preparing applications for EECBG funding administered by the CEC.

In addition to procedural and accountability requirements established under ARRA, proposed projects to be funded through EECBG are required by state law to maximize the energy efficiency per dollar spent. To that end, the CEC guidance establishes baseline energy efficiency requirements for projects to be funded through EECBG. The CEC guidance also encourages small cities and counties to maximize their funding opportunities by combining EECBG funding with CEC loans under the Energy Efficiency Financing Program, applying for further ARRA funds under the State Energy Program, leveraging ARRA funding to obtain utility rebates and incentives, and/or partnering with other small cities and counties.

The final application process and deadlines for filing applications have not yet been decided by the CEC. In addition, the remaining 40% of California’s EECBG allocation (approximately $20 million) will be made available through a competitive grant process that the CEC has yet to determine.

If you have any questions regarding stimulus funding or local agency financing of energy efficiency improvements, or need additional resources, please contact Ed Grutzmacher or Sam Sperry.