SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — California today received $49.6 million to advance local energy efficiency programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. The California Energy Commission (CEC) estimates that energy efficiency investments from this program can save 61.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity; reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 22,541 tons, save local jurisdictions in excess of $9 million per year and create over 500 new jobs for local communities.

“This is another great opportunity for California,” said California Recovery Task Force Director Cynthia Bryant. “These funds will help create green jobs while making California’s smaller cities and counties more energy efficient and help them save money.”

The CEC is responsible for administering the EECBG program in California and funds will be available to 265 eligible small cities and 44 eligible small counties. The funds will be allocated on a per capita basis with a minimum of $25,000 for cities and $50,000 for counties. Local jurisdictions will also receive an unemployment adjustment so that communities hardest hit by the economic downturn will get more funds to help in their recovery.

The commission expects to approve the EECBG program guidelines and simple application process at a special commission meeting on September 16th and eligible cities and counties can begin applying for funding almost immediately. Cities and counties will have until approximately September 2012 to complete their projects.

The EECBG program is one of two ARRA funded energy-related programs focused on assisting local governments and public entities invest in energy efficiency, clean energy systems and green jobs. In March 2009, the Energy Commission was allocated $226 million under State Energy Program (SEP) ARRA funds to implement public and private sector programs. The bulk of the SEP funding ($195.8 million) will be aimed at combining grants, contracts and loans to fund activities that concentrate on green jobs training, clean energy systems and energy efficiency measures and upgrades for residential and non-residential structures. The CEC estimates that retrofitting California’s aged and inefficient residential and non-residential structures could save the state’s consumers 2.7 billion British thermal units annually and create over 2,100 jobs.

Eligible small cities and counties are encouraged to leverage their energy efficiency block grant funds with other programs, such as the SEP and low interest loans, to make them go further. Jurisdictions can apply for either the new one percent interest loan (funded from ARRA money) or the current three percent Energy Conservation Assistant Account program (funded from the existing state-funded loan program). Four local governments, the county of Marin, city of Los Angeles, city of Carlsbad and the town of Hillsborough, have already successfully applied to the CEC for more than $5.8 million in low interest loans to help leverage their block grants.

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