Legislators Commend City Innovation, Ask for Additional EECBG Funding

August 19, 2010

A bipartisan effort is being orchestrated under the leadership of Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) to advocate for continued funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program initially funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In a recent letter of request, the three senators, with signatures of support from 26 additional senators, requested the inclusion of $3.2 billion in the Fiscal Year 2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill for EECBG. Acknowledging the current severe budgetary constraints of local and state governments and the ability of local officials to best meet the needs of their communities, the letter insists, "This partnership program is exactly what local officials throughout the United States continue to urge Congress to embrace - an opportunity to expand on the success of local initiatives to increase energy efficiency, promote energy conservation, expand renewable energy supplies and create jobs." 

As a leading advocate for the initial appropriation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NLC continues to hold EECBG as a key legislative priority. To assist ongoing advocacy efforts, NLC has been collecting success stories that reflect the ways cities are utilizing EECBG funds to stimulate local economies and conserve energy through infrastructure investment. The following examples demonstrate the early impact this program has had on cities across the county: 

Cleveland 

The City of Cleveland used EECBG funding to develop and/or support at least 10 diverse and transformational projects in the city, ranging from renewable energy installations on public buildings, finance mechanisms for residential energy-efficiency, waste management through deconstruction projects and bike trail and lane improvements. 

Data will be collected on the impact of several initiatives, such as the LED streetlight pilot and installation of radiant heaters in 15 fire stations, to inform future energy saving initiatives. The programs supported through this grant build upon the city's existing commitment to sustainability and will contribute to the development of a Climate Action Plan to guide future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while spurring economic growth. 

Notably, due to their far-reaching scope, implementation of EECBG programs in Cleveland will involve the coordination of at least six city departments. 

Savannah, Ga. 

The City of Savannah is using EECBG funds to support three projects that will drastically reduce the city's energy consumption and help meet the city's emission reduction target of 15 percent by 2020. The projects include energy efficient retrofits of municipal buildings, upgrades to and relocation of the city's data center, and improvements to a historically significant visitor's center.

Technology upgrades to the data center have resulted in considerable savings, having more than doubled the center's efficiency rating - from 35.6 percent to 73.7 percent - making the site one of the greenest data centers in Georgia. More than 30 entities have shown interest in replicating the innovative design of this project that allows for equipment to be cooled directly by a mechanical system combined with a high-efficiency chilled water air handling system built into the unit. 

Henderson, Nev. 

City budgets typically do not leave room to retrofit public buildings. That is why, like many others, the City of Henderson is using this unique opportunity to obligate funding primarily to municipal facility improvements. 

The city will install enough Solar PV Arrays at the North Community Police Station to double the kW produced by an existing 30 kW solar PV system on the building. Energy-saving retrofits are also scheduled for seven additional municipal facilities. 

A remaining 2 percent of total formula allocation will be directed to a contractor energy audit training program, HomeFree, to increase the availability of certified contractors to perform residential energy audits and set the groundwork for local government energy efficiency rebate programs. 

Colorado Springs, Colo. 

The city is using EECBG funds to support a total of five programs, including an innovative student-administered energy audit program. 

Colorado Springs Utilities employs qualified students from the city's three public colleges to administer complex audits as a means of practical hands-on education directed by Farnsworth Group, a local engineering company. In addition to educating the next generation of adult decision makers, the audits directly benefit small to mid-sized commercial, non-profit and education facilities not normally reached through existing programs. 

So far, 13 facilities have received initial assessments with full commercial-grade audits on two facilities. The program is anticipated to reduce greenhouse gasses by 450 metric tons over ten years. 

Spokane, Wash. 

The City of Spokane is investing in a wide range of energy efficient technology improvements aimed at municipal facilities, but the city's primary EECBG-supported program will be a residential energy efficiency audit and loan program through a partnership with a privately owned local utility, Avista Utilities. 

It is estimated that more than 5,000 residential audits will be performed under this program. Participating homeowners will receive ceiling caulking, door sweeps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) as needed, and additional on-site audits. Participants will then be provided with a final report containing recommended energy efficiency retrofits, cost-benefit analysis, next steps to seek bids from contractors, and information on incentives available through the revolving loan program. 

NLC continues to collect examples of city leadership around energy efficiency, especially those utilizing EECBG funding. If your city has received EECBG funding please e-mail zborel@nlc.org to share updates of projects completed, planned, or in-progress. 

Senators supporting FY11 funding for EECBG: 

· Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) 

· Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) 

· Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) 

· Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) 

· Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) 

· John Kerry (D-Mass.) 

· Mark Begich (D-Alaska) 

· Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) 

· Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) 

· Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) 

· Carl Levin (D-Mich.) 

· Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) 

· Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) 

· Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) 

· Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) 

· Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) 

· Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) 

· Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) 

· Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) 

· Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) 

· Roland Burris (D-Ill.) 

· Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) 

· Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) 

· Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) 

· Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) 

· Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) 

· Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) 

· Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) 

• Ted Kaufman (D-Del.)