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Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant FAQs

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ICLEI USA's responses to local government questions about funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

Updated May 12, 2009

Q&As Pulled From FedConnect

The following questions and answers have been compiled directly from FedConnect and presented below for your convenience. The questions and answers were selected by ICLEI staff in response to interest from members on certain topics.  These are not necessarily all the questions and answers on a given topic but are considered representative.  In partnership with Strategic Energy Innovations, ICLEI offers its members a nearly complete, searchable, browse-able database of questions and answers available through FedConnect here.

Submitting questions via FedConnect or via the DOE EERE Information Center is the primary means of receiving an official answer from DOE.


ICLEI's EECBG FAQ

The follow FAQ was compiled by ICLEI staff for the benefit of our local government members.

Where can I get the latest information about the EECBG funding?

DOE has published questions and answers on its website and specific guidance in the Funding Opportunity Announcement found through FedConnect. Note that in addition to the FOA there are five (5) attachments associated with the EECBG guidance, most of which are essential to a successful application.  These include:

  • Attachment A – Program Funding Allocations
  • Attachment B1 – Project Activity Sheet
  • Attachment B2 – Financial Management Assessment
  • Attachment B3 – Environmental Questionnaire
  • Attachment C – Reporting Requirements
  • Attachment D – EECBG Strategy Format: Local Governments and Tribes
  • Attachment E – EECBG Strategy Format: States (not applicable to a local government’s EECBG application)

 

How long will local governments have to prepare and submit an application once guidance is made available?

Applications from units of local government are due to DOE by 8 p.m. Eastern Time on June 25, 2009.  Note: all this applies to EECBG formula funding; other funding mechanisms have their own schedules and criteria.  More general information about timelines is available on www.recovery.gov.
 

How long does DOE have to approve a submitted application?

The Secretary has a maximum of 120 days after receiving a proposed strategy to approve or disapprove it. If the Secretary disapproves a proposed strategy, the Secretary shall provide to the grantee the reasons for the disapproval; and the grantee may revise and resubmit the proposed strategy as many times as necessary until the Secretary approves a proposed strategy.
 

Where can I find how much funding my local government received?

Please see EECBG program allocations for local governments (.pdf) of the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
 

How much funding will we receive during the first phase of the EECBG program?

Obligation of funds under the EECBG awards will vary based on the following: (1) the award amount, and (2) acceptance of an approved Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (EECS). The EECBG staged disbursements are as follows:

  • Awards up to $250,000 – 100% of allocation will be obligated at time of award. No EECS is required prior to award, but the EECS must be submitted within 120 days.
  • Awards above $250,000 but less than $2M – applicants may receive up to $250,000 for development of the EECS and approved activities. If not submitted with the application, the
  • EECS is required within 120 days of the effective date of the award. The balance of the allocation will be obligated upon DOE approval of the recipient’s EECS.
  • Awards above $2M – applicants may receive up to $250,000 at award for development of an EECS and approved activities, or 50% of the total allocation if an acceptable EECS has been submitted with the application and has been approved by DOE. The balance of funding will be obligated after one or more progress reviews in which the recipient must demonstrate that it has obligated funds appropriately, complied with reporting requirements and created jobs.

Project performance will be monitored and corrective action taken, as necessary, to ensure acceptable performance for all awards.
 

How will population be determined for the purposes of eligibility under the EECBG?

DOE has posted the formula used to determine which cities and counties were determined to be eligible for direct formula funding under the EECBG.  Download a copy of the Federal Register Notice (.pdf).
 

Counties in several states were not included in DOE’s allocation for formula funding under the EECBG; how is DOE addressing this?

DOE has posted the formula used to determine which cities and counties were determined to be eligible for direct formula funding under the EECBG.  Download a copy of the Federal Register Notice (.pdf).  Additional questions or inquiries should be directed to the Department of Energy.
 

Has DOE published guidelines on the development of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (required to be submitted with an EECBG application or within 120 days)?

The desired format and content for an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (EECS) for local governments and their equivalents is located in both Attachments C and D of the EECBG Funding Opportunity Announcement and can be downloaded at www.fedconnect.gov.  Attachment D - EECBG Strategy Template: Local Governments and Tribes provides the format and broader questions.  The “EECS Strategy” section of Attachment C – Reporting Requirements (see bottom of page 2) contains more specific information requested by DOE that should be included in the EECS. Additionally, DOE has indicated that applicants should draw from existing strategies or plans (such as climate action plans) to provide the information requested in the EECS.

DOE has also indicated that it will post “model” EECS to its website shortly to provide some guidance to local governments on what these should include and what level of detail is expected.  Approved strategies from actual local governments are also expected to be made public.

Can a local government submit a partial strategy and later provide additional detail?

No.  DOE will only accept complete strategies (i.e. those that account for 100% of a local governments EECBG allocation).  A local government may either submit all information required for a complete application including an EECS (see Part IV on page 14 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement) or submit an application and request an additional 120 days to develop its EECS.

What does a complete application include?

The Funding Opportunity Announcement includes a description of all components of an application in Part IV on page 14 (a summary is located on page 21).  A complete application must include all of these components including an EECS that accounts for 100% of a local government’s allocation as well as Project Activity Worksheets (Attachment B1) for each discrete program or activity that is being proposed.

What does an application submitted without an EECS include?

The Funding Opportunity Announcement includes a description of all components of an application in Part IV on page 14 (a summary is located on page 21).  An application submitted without an EECS must include a Project Activity Worksheet describing the process that will be taken to develop a complete EECS (one that accounts for 100% of a local government’s EECBG allocation) but does not have to include the EECS template (Attachment D).  The EECS must be submitted within 120 days of the date of the award.

Can multiple local governments that are receiving direct formula funding under the EECBG program submit a single application (including a single EECS)?

This is permissible provided that each participating local government provides authority to a single entity to submit an application on its behalf.

What does DOE consider the “date of award?”

DOE has indicated that the date of award is the time at which DOE first approves an EECBG application (regardless of whether it has been submitted with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy). There are currently no known timeframes within which DOE is required to respond to applicants. ICLEI will post this information as soon as it is available.

Can a local government be reimbursed for any activity occurring prior to the date of award?

No.

How soon do funds have to be spent?

The period of performance for these grants will be 36 months. In keeping with the agenda of the Recovery Act, and supporting the goal of immediate investment in the economy, entities are required to obligate/commit all funds within eighteen (18) months from the effective date of the award. In the event funds are not obligated/committed within eighteen (18) months, DOE reserves the right to deobligate the funds and cancel the award.
 

How should local governments demonstrate “coordination” with the state?  Is simply sharing the local government’s EECS adequate?

DOE is seeking a greater level of cooperation and coordination than simply sharing strategies.  DOE is seeking to ensure that state, regional and local efforts are complementing and supporting one another but has not established strict criteria for what such coordination might involve. Participation in state-convened meetings concerning the use of these funds and engagement of private and other types of partners on the coordinated use of these funds are two examples of the type of coordination they are seeking.

How should I determine whether a specific activity/project/program is eligible for funding under the EECBG?

A list of eligible activities for use of program funds is contained in Sec. 544 of EISA and from our Action Center. Additional activities may be eligible pending approval by the DOE. These activities are therefore not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide to the intent of the program. DOE encourages each entity to develop a strategy, including its component activities, that is likely to result in maximum energy efficiency improvements, fossil-fuel emission reductions, economic benefits and total energy use reduction. Entities may submit any other appropriate activity for approval in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy. DOE has suggested a strategy of “propose and defend” which is taken to mean that local governments may consider submitting innovative programs and proposals and providing evidence that they meet the requirements and intent of the EECBG guidance and any related requirements.
 

Can EECBG funds be used for new construction?

DOE has suggested that the most appropriate use of EECBG funds for new construction would be for the incremental costs of making the building more energy efficient.
 

How will population be determined for the purposes of eligibility under the EECBG?

Please visit the DOE’s EECBG webpage for more details on how population will be determined for the purposes of funding allocation.
 

Can local governments submit population data to DOE to ensure that they will be eligible for direct funding?

No. DOE cannot accept population information other than that which it receives from the U.S. Census Bureau.
 

Will there be stimulus funds available for preparing our "GHG Action Plan?"

The EECBG provides funding for, among other things, the development of an “Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (EECS).“ Since energy efficiency and conservation are a major component of GHG action planning, there seems to be significant opportunity to establish the majority, if not the entirety of a GHG action plan with EECBG funding.  ICLEI will be providing additional guidance and assistance to members on this issue.

Additionally, EPA will be announcing a funding opportunity designed to support local government climate action plan development at the Local Climate Leadership Summit in May. Full details will be provided then. To register, visit www.localclimateleadershipsummit.org. ICLEI will post relevant information after the event if you are not able to attend.
*What year should be used for the baseline year for the required GHG inventory?
DOE permits the use of any year for which complete and accurate data is available.  This is consistent with ICLEI’s recommendations.

What specific energy-related grant opportunities are there for cities that are not eligible for direct EECBG funding, (i.e., with city populations less than 35,000 or county populations less than 200,000)?

These communities (considered “non-eligible entities” for this purpose) can access the following funding:

  • States are required to distribute 60% of the funding these receive under the EECBG to non-eligible entities. Within guidance established by Congress and DOE, states will independently develop mechanisms to distribute this funding. Local government should contact their state energy office for additional information.
  • a.Each state that receives a grant under the program shall use not less than 60 percent of the amount received to provide subgrants to units of local government in the state that are not eligible for direct formula grants. The state shall provide the subgrants not later than 180 days after the date on which the Secretary approves the proposed energy efficiency and conservation strategy.
  • Approximately $56 million in funding from the EECBG will be allotted to a competitive grant program available only to “non-eligible entities.”
  • Approximately $400 million in funding from the EECBG will be allotted to a competitive grant program available to all eligible entities under the EECBG including “non-eligible entities."
  • There several other energy-related opportunities available to all local governments.  Visit our Stimulus Funding page for more information.

 

Do smaller local governments that do not qualify for direct funding from DOE under the EECBG need to register for a Duns and Bradstreet (DUNS) number, with Central Contractor Registration (CCR), with FedConnect, etc?

No, not for the purposes of receiving that funding.  These local governments will have to work directly with their state energy offices to receive that funding.  However in order to be eligible for any of the other federal funding available (i.e. competitive grants under the EECBG), you will need to complete this process, so ICLEI urges ALL local governments to complete the steps outlined in its stimulus preparation checklist found on our Stimulus Funding page.
 

Will local governments receiving funds directly from DOE under the EECBG (i.e., over 35,000 for cities, over 200,000 for counties, or among the 10 largest jurisdictions in their states) be eligible for funding directly from the state?

It is up to the state to determine whether they develop a mechanism to distribute block grant funds to local governments other than “non-eligible” entities (i.e. smaller cities and counties). However all local governments will be eligible to compete for funds under the competitive portion ($400 million) of the block grant program.
 

Will prevailing wage and other stipulations that apply under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs (such as the Community Development block grants) apply to EECBG?

Yes. ICLEI is seeking additional guidance from DOE based on member inquiries.
 

Are there any limitations on utilizing the EECBG funding for projects that are supported with other federal, state or private funding?

No, DOE encourages leveraging these funds as greatly as possible. Be advised that Recovery Act funds can be used in conjunction with other funding as necessary to complete projects, but tracking and reporting must be separate to meet the reporting requirements of the Recovery Act and related OMB Guidance. Applicants for projects funded by sources other than the Recovery Act should plan to keep separate records for Recovery Act funds and to ensure those records comply with the requirements of the Act. Funding provided through the Recovery Act that is supplemental to an existing grant is one-time funding.


How much of the EECBG funding received by a local government can be used A) for administrative purposes, B) to establish a revolving loan fund, C) for providing subgrants to certain entities to assist with the development of the energy efficiency and conservation strategy of the eligible unit of local government?

Language from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 as modified by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is provided below. Additional information will be provided pending final guidance from DOE.

(3) LIMITATIONS ON USE OF FUNDS.—Of amounts provided to an eligible unit of local government or Indian tribe under the program, an eligible unit of local government or Indian tribe may use--
for administrative expenses, excluding the cost of meeting the reporting requirements of this subtitle, an amount equal to the greater of—

10 percent; and

$75,000;
for the establishment of revolving loan funds, an amount equal to the greater of—

20 percent; and

$250,000; and

for the provision of subgrants to nongovernmental organizations for the purpose of assisting in the implementation of the energy efficiency and conservation strategy of the eligible unit of local government or Indian tribe, an amount equal to the greater of—

20 percent; and

$250,000.

NOTE: DOE has indicated that jurisdictions receiving EECBG funds may pool their revolving loan fund monies into a single pool as long as the funding each jurisdiction contribuytes to the fund is at or below the above mentioned cap.  For example ICLEItown and Climate Communitiesville could each contribute up to 20% or $250000 (whichever is greater) of their EECBG formula funding to a revolving loan fund, thereby creating a shared pool that is larger than either of them could have created alone.
 

How are “administrative” expenses (as mentioned in the previous question) defined?

DOE expects to post an official answer to this question via FedConnect, but anticipates that it will be defined consistently with past uses of the term.  Staff focused on program or project implementation will likely NOT be considered an administrative expense and therefore not subject to the 10% of $75,000 cap.

Where can I get more information or application information about one of the energy-related programs mentioned during ICLEI’s stimulus webinar?

Please visit our Stimulus-Funded Programs page and select the program you are interested in.
 

May recycling programs be supported with funds from the EECBG?

Yes, recycling programs may be supported with EECBG funding subject to the following limitations and any guidance issued by DOE.

Language from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 as modified by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is provided below. Additional information will be provided pending final guidance from DOE.

(10) activities to increase participation and efficiency rates for material conservation programs, including source reduction, recycling, and recycled content procurement programs that lead to increases in energy efficiency;

There may be other programs with support for recycling programs. Visit our Stimulus Funding page for the latest information.

How do I calculate jobs saved for the purposes of the EECBG program?
DOE will provide a calculator to assist local governments with these estimates.  ICLEI will link to it as soon as it is available.

Will DOE provide local contacts to assist local governments throughout the EECBG program?

DOE is working with ICLEI and other national organizations to develop regional teams of experts that can assist local governments develop and implement the programs funded by EECBG and other stimulus-funded programs.  More information will be disseminated as soon as it is available.  Please continue to contact your ICLEI Regional Office for the latest in member support related to the EECBG and Recovery Act funding.  DOE is also expanding web-based resources as well as technical assistance from Department of Energy National Laboratories to assist local governments in a number of subject areas.  More information will be posted when it becomes available

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