Maximize EECBG Funding in Your Community

By:

  • Carolyn Berndt
  • Katherine Hueston
  • Kelly Aves
  • Cynthia McCoy

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) allocates $550 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) to support communities with financial assistance to complete renewable energy, sustainable transportation and energy efficiency projects. Cities with a population greater than 35,000 or the top 10 most populous cities in each state are automatically eligible for EECBG formula funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Cities that do not meet the criteria for the formula funds are eligible to apply through their state.  

Official allocations for formula funding are expected from DOE by the end of 2022, but cities can use WRI’s City and County EECBG Grant Calculator for a rough estimate. With a minimum formula allocation of $75,000, local leaders may be curious as to what kinds of projects they can tackle with the funding. 

Much of the program remains the same as when it was first funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act over a decade ago, but communities are now able to use EECBG funding for projects on renewable energy, zero-emission transportation, and energy efficiency, giving local governments even more flexibility and creativity when deciding how to take on energy and environment-related projects. The EECBG requires no matching funds, and additional technical and financial assistance programs are available through the DOE Bipartisan Infrastructure Law portal, the Office of State and Community Energy Programs and by partnering with your state. 

Below are examples of projects eligible for EECBG funds, relevant resources and other funding opportunities that can be leveraged.  

1. Municipal fleet conversion to EVs

As municipalities focus on reducing their transportation emissions, many are taking action to convert their municipal vehicle fleet to electric vehicles. 

  • Evanston, IL passed a fleet electrification plan, including an analysis of the efficacy of the existing fleet, a comprehensive plan for its electrification of the fleet, and a resolution on the charging infrastructure necessary.
  • Cleveland, OH will install EV charging stations as part of their goal of transitioning to all-electric municipal vehicles. The city has already ordered its first batch of 24 EV SUVs, pick-up trucks and other replacements. 
  • Boston, MA launched an EV school bus pilot program, which will deploy 20 electric school buses in the city during the 2022-2023 school year. Boston hopes to electrify its entire school bus fleet by 2030, as school buses alone account for 11% of municipal emissions. 
  • New York, NY will purchase 1,250 electric vehicles in FY 2022 in the effort to electrify their fleet by 2035.The city is also focused on expanding the municipal electric charging network with portable and solar powered chargers that allow more flexibility for emergency vehicles or during power outages. 
  • Madison, WI, Los Angeles and Mesa, AZ have purchased electric fire trucks that generate less noise than diesel-powered trucks and generate zero emissions without compromising on performance or operation.  

Resources:

2. Installation of solar panels on municipal buildings

To reduce grid reliance, municipalities have installed distributed energy resources such as solar panels on municipal buildings. Not only does this help a local government’s energy independence, it increases resiliency when the traditional energy grid may be damaged due to weather events. 

  • Batesville, AR installed a 759-kW solar panel system on its schools, the largest solar panel system of any school district in Arkansas. The change has led to a reduction in energy costs for the school district and doubles as an educational tool in their science curriculum.  
  • Denver, CO approved a $26 million contract with a third-party developer to build out their municipal distributed generation–starting with 10 solar power arrays–hosted on city-owned parking lots, rooftops and land to  power city facilities. Thirty percent of the electricity generated will go to low-income families, about 150 homes. 
  • New Bedford, MA launched in 2011 a $40 million project to install solar panels on 10 city properties, including schools, land, and municipal buildings. By 2022, the city has 16.25 MW in privately-financed capacity and is ranked among the top municipalities for solar installation in the country, saving taxpayers $100 million each year. The city also provides comprehensive services for residents wishing to install solar on their homes. 

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3. Residential Grants for energy efficiency projects

EECBG funds may also be used for grants and loans paid directly to residents pursuing electrification, energy efficiency and EV charging home improvements.  Home energy efficiency programs decrease resident’s energy bills while also reducing the city’s overall carbon footprint. 

  • Portland, OR granted money to assist with the construction of green infrastructure and clean energy retrofits for qualifying residents’ homes. This includes providing funds to add solar panels and more energy-efficient HVAC units to affordable housing units.
  • Takoma Park, MD allocates grants to residents to replace natural gas or propane appliances with non-fossil fuel-based alternatives, namely Energy Star high efficiency HVAC systems, water heaters, stoves and ovens. For low- to moderate-income homeowners, projects to install solar panels or EV charging equipment may also be eligible. 
  • Plano, TX, provides loans to residents seeking to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes.

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4. Development of a clean energy workforce program

Another option to utilize EECBG funds is to support clean energy workforce programs that  attract high-paying jobs to the community. 

  • Madison, WI’s workforce program trains unemployed and underemployed residents to install solar panels on city buildings through a mix of in-classroom learning and apprenticeship training. 
  • Chattanooga, TN’s Build It Green six-month to one-year workforce program prepares residents for jobs in residential energy services and weatherization, while also working with participants to enhance community engagement. This program was designed to be accessible to a more diverse pool of applicants, offering paid educational awards, child care assistance and health insurance. 
  • Charlotte, NC has launched the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Workforce (RENEW) Training Program, which provides paid training in the HVAC and electrical trades, with an emphasis on energy efficiency. 

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5. Provide energy code compliance training

EECBG funds may be used to provide energy code updates and compliance training for inspectors. Using EECBG funds for energy code updates could be an attractive option for cities whose state will apply for additional competitive building code upgrade grants from DOE. 

  • Palo Alto, CA has invested in resources to provide on-demand green building code training, compliance checklists and links to relevant resources and documents. The trainings provide an in-depth look at both the residential and non-residential code, granting inspectors and the general public a full explanation of the green building and energy reach codes. 

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Additional Funding Opportunities

Local leaders can also explore other federal, state or philanthropic funding sources for these and other clean energy projects that could be leveraged or stacked with EECBG funding to expand project scope or increase reach and benefits to the community. Other funding opportunities for broader, more general programs include grants for capital investments and resiliency.

Resources

Finding Funding Opportunities

NLC’s Infrastructure Insights Dashboard provides a searchable database of BIL programs to help local leaders match project type to funding opportunities. 

USDN’s Funding Opportunity Tracker is a searchable database of current, forecasted, and archived opportunities for all federal and philanthropic grants focused on resilience, equity, workforce, and research, to help local sustainability directors plan for and align their project priorities to funding opportunities. To receive weekly updates on federal funding opportunities, related resources and trainings, join USDN’s Federal Funding Program Group.  

The following is a list of open grant opportunities:

The following is a list of forthcoming and ongoing grant opportunities by eligible use. Notice of Intent or “NOI” is issued so that interested parties are aware of the funding department or agency’s intention to issue a NOFO in the near term; Notice of Funding Opportunity or “NOFO” is issued so that interested parties are aware that the funding opportunity is open for applications. 

Capital Grants

Electric Grid

Electrification

Electric Vehicles and Transportation

Energy Efficiency 

Home Repair

Solar 

Workforce Development

Technical Assistance

Additionally, through the Local Infrastructure Hub, NLC is providing a new technical assistance program to help small and mid-size cities and towns apply for 30 infrastructure programs authorized by the law BIL, including EECBG.  

USDN provides a technical assistance program to help members successfully apply to federal grants. This program offers advisory coaching and support, proposal review and editing, and submission process guidance to members pursuing federal funding for high-impact sustainability projects.

EECBG Webinars

To learn more about EECBG and hear from federal agency experts, register for the Ready to Rebuild: Investing in Clean Energy and and Improving Energy Efficiency in your Community webinar on September 15. 

Join DOE’s State and Community Energy Programs Office to learn more about the EECBG Program, resources available to local governments, and to have the opportunity to provide key feedback that will help inform program design. DOE will explain how local governments can get ready prior to the funding announcement, and how to maximize their EECBG funds. Register for the DOE EECBG Listening Session with USDN on September 19. 

About the Authors

Carolyn Berndt

About the Authors

Carolyn Berndt is the Legislative Director for Sustainability on NLC’s Federal Advocacy team.

Katherine Hueston

Katherine Hueston serves as an intern on NLC’s Federal Advocacy team.

Kelly Aves

Kelly Aves is a Senior Program Specialist on Sustainability within NLC’s Center for City Solutions.

Cynthia McCoy

Cynthia McCoy is the Federal Engagement Director at at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN).