As part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), over $242 Million in funds were allocated to Indiana through the U.S. Department of Energy. Among those funds, approximately $42 Million was directed for use in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG). Out of this $42 Million, approximately $28 Million was earmarked for direct distribution to certain “entitlement” communities in Indiana, with another $14 Million allocated to Indiana’s Office of Energy Development (OED). The “entitlement” communities include cities with populations greater than 35,000 and counties with populations greater than 200,000. These “entitlement” communities were previously required to identify their intended use of their EECBG funds, and those communities have planned uses such as installation of LED traffic signals, creation of new local government offices for energy and sustainability, and construction of bike lanes.
For those “non-entitlement” communities (i.e., cities with populations less than 35,000 and counties with populations less than 200,000) that did not receive direct funding through the EECBG program, the Indiana OED recently launched an energy efficiency grant program to provide funding for energy efficiency upgrades in three areas: (1) Traffic Lights, (2) Building and Facility Lighting, and (3) General Facility Energy Efficiency. The Indiana OED has approximately $6.8 Million available for these grants, and applications are due by December 7, 2009. All grant funds awarded under this program must be expended by the end of 2010.
Indiana communities eligible for the grants will likely be busy assembling grant application materials and pre-planning for energy efficient projects under the new program. Since these grant funds are part of the overall ARRA program, recipients of the grants will also have to plan ahead to comply with all reporting requirements, including publication of information relating to use of the funds, reporting of job creation and preservation, and compliance with Buy American requirements. In addition, this focus by the ARRA on energy efficiency further underscores the importance of education and experience for designers and contractors in “green” and energy efficient building projects, as these types of projects continue to find funding and come online.