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Department of Energy providing $9M for projects in AZ

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Sept. 14 that more than $9 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects is headed to Arizona.

The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is part of a plan that will send more than $354 million to 22 states for “green” energy projects.

Arizona will work under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, create green jobs and lower energy use locally.

“This funding will allow states across the country to make major investments in energy solutions that will strengthen America’s economy and create jobs at the local level,” Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu stated in a media release. “It will also promote some of the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy technologies we have – energy efficiency and conservation – which can be deployed immediately. Local communities can now make strategic investments to help meet the nation’s long term clean-energy and climate goals.”

The EECBG has approved direct funding to 12 other counties, cities and tribes in Arizona in 2009. So far this year, more than $28 million has been awarded to Arizona for projects already approved.

At least 60 percent of the $9,593,500 grant will be spread out to cities and counties that are not large enough to qualify for direct aid from the EECBG. Five small counties, including La Paz, and 68 communities with fewer than 35,000 residents, such as Show Low and Quartsite, will be able to apply for the money.

David Drennon, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Commerce, said local governments will be able to submit letters of intent to Commerce’s Energy Office.

The process of being chosen to receive the money will be competitive and local governments will be granted money based on projects that create jobs, have a high return on investment and a shared community project approach, among other criteria, according to the federal Department of Energy.

The feds will oversee the projects and encourage the state to use the money quickly, in order to create needed jobs for local economies. Cities, counties and tribes also will be required to report regularly to on their progress.

The money can be used for a number of different projects approved by the EECBG program, including the purchase of energy-saving devices or equipment, to pay for energy efficient traffic and streets lights and developing renewable technologies for government buildings. Those types of projects will save money in the long run, Drennon said.

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