Energy Commission approves efficiency grants

The California Energy Commission has approved all 208 applications by smaller cities and counties for federal stimulus money providing energy efficiency upgrades.

The announcement Tuesday evening comes about seven months after those small cities and counties were required to submit applications for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, which were provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The allocations, which pay for upgrades to lighting, heating and cooling systems and other electric-savings opportunities, were determined by population and a multiplier based on unemployment rates.

The CEC said more than half the grant packages have been mailed and that it expects to send most of the remaining packages in the next couple of weeks. That means cities and counties still waiting will be checking the mail.

While slow in coming, this is good news. Energy efficiency upgrades immediately save cash. A variable frequency drive motor, for instance, can pay for itself in several year through reduced energy costs. Lighting upgrades take a little longer but also save substantially.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization represents 33 cities and three counties through its partnership with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The SJVCEO also represents Tehachapi and Delano and Ceres, which are classified as large cities and got their EECBG allocations directly from the U.S. Department of Energy.

For small cities and counties, here is what the CEC lists as the subsequent steps in the EECBG process:

  • After signing the grant agreement, the recipient must participate in a project "kick-off" meeting with the Energy Commission.

  • The recipient must submit a waste management plan to the CEC for approval.

  • The recipient must comply with state and federal prevailing wage requirements, getting the CEC's written approval for subcontracts.

  • The recipient must receive National Historic Preservation Act clearance for all projects.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.