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Maximizing Your Stimulus Series, Part III: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants Offer Unique Opportunities for California Cities

The United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, administered under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides grants to fund projects that reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions, and that improve energy efficiency. The deadline for units of local governments and tribal applicants to apply for these grants is June 25, 2009.

California cities may receive these grants in one of two ways. Larger California cities have specific funding allocated by the DOE under a formula. Cities which are on the list must submit an application to DOE by the deadline. Cities not on the DOE’s list will be able to compete for pass-through grants from the State. The California Energy Commission is still in the process of developing the application guidelines for the smaller cities not on the DOE’s list.

Whether large city or small, the EECBG grants offer unique opportunities for California cities to not only reduce energy consumption, but also address issues related to land use planning and greenhouse gas reduction. For example, EECBG grants may prove to be a source of funding for local agencies to develop local climate action plans. Recent draft California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines suggest that local climate action plans may be a solution to a problem local agencies have struggled with since the passage of AB 32 in 2007: how to address greenhouse gas emissions in their environmental documents under CEQA. EECBG grants represent a unique opportunity for California cities to obtain funding for these and other green initiatives.

If you have questions about the EECBG program or local climate action plans, please contact Ed Grutzmacher.