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Stories Added - July 2009
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Stimulus funds available for public energy improvements
Polk County Enterprise - July 2009
AUSTIN — The U.S. Department of Energy has approved Texas’ plan to use more than $218 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to assist state and local governments hit by tight budgets and increasing pressure to cut energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The stimulus funds will be administered by the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to help state agencies, local governments, school districts, public colleges and universities, public hospitals and municipal utilities pay for energysaving upgrades and installations. “This is a tremendous opportunity for agencies in state and local government to move forward with projects that will save valuable taxpayer dollars through energy efficiency and help Texas meet clean air goals and reduce its energy use,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said. Her agency includes SECO.
Most of the stimulus dollars – $158.2 million – will go to a revolving loan program similar to SECO’s successful LoanSTAR program. SECO will accept applications for loans up to $10 million, at 2 percent interest, for energy-saving projects such as high efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; high efficiency lighting; improving insulation; adding reflective window film; and automating energy management systems and equipment controls. Borrowers repay the loans with money saved from utility costs. Then SECO uses the repaid money to make more loans. Projects that save the most energy per dollar spent will receive priority. The state plans to meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal to save 10 million BTUs of energy annually for every $1,000 spent. Ready-to-go projects are also leading contenders for ARRA funding. More information about the revolving loan program and other energy-related programs receiving economic stimulus funds is posted on the Comptroller’s SECO ARRA Web site at www.seco. cpa.state.tx.us/arra/.
In August, government entities can check this site for loan and grant applications and timelines and sign up to receive updates on SECO ARRA programs. In addition to the revolving loan program, $16.9 million in ARRA funds will provide grants for projects such as traffic signal synchronization, replacing signal lights with LEDs, purchasing alternative fuel vehicles and equipping alternative fueling stations for government vehicles. Grants totaling $30 million will help public entities install renewable energy technology, including solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal. Using $6 million in stimulus funds, SECO will partner with the Texas Workforce Commission to train workers for jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. And $5 million will be spent on energy education and outreach to help reduce Texas’ energy consumption.