State OKs Valley retrofit energy grants

Not only is it Friday before a three-day weekend for most, but the California Energy Commission has signed off on the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership's grant agreement for member cities that applied using the direct-purchase formula.

The partnership is an alliance including the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization and 36 cities and counties in the Valley. It was formed to help jurisdictions administer Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants.

The grants are direct allocations of federal stimulus funds and have been languishing for months as state officials worked to satisfy the many requirements involved in their distribution.

However, most of the $37.3 million approved statewide for lighting, air conditioning and other energy efficiency retrofits won't reach cities and counties until the jobs are complete. And that's still a long way off for most.

For partnership cities and counties, it means finally getting started installing the $4 million worth of work already listed and identified in the EECBG applications. Cities will need permits pulled for projects that require them. Copies of those permits will be electronically filed with the CEC, and a document stating none is needed also will have to be filed in cases that require it.

Waste management plans will be needed. These require documents that says the old fluorescent bulbs, ballasts and electric motors will go into the appropriate place. They require registering for a specific number with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or CalEPA.

I expect to encounter glitches.

Of course, the real retrofit work will need to be accomplished. Thus far all that's been done to get this stimulus money into the economy has been paperwork.

Requests for proposals must be generated so that contractors promising to buy American and pay prevailing wage can actually get started. The SJVCEO will tackle the RFP task next week.

In some cases, cities or counties plan to do the work in house, saving money and jobs.

And that's what it's all about. Jobs. Let's hope this money saves some while saving kilowatts and money formerly spent on electricity.