Great News! THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009 (the newest stimulus bill) has been introduced in the House and is being marked up now. It includes six programs at the Departments of Energy and Education specifically for energy upgrades in k-12 and higher education buildings totaling at least $7.0 billion in grants and $.5 billion in loans (shared with k-12 and municipalities), similar to what we recommended.
The Senate is expected to release their stimulus bill on Monday, and passage could occur as soon as next week. These programs are required to spend their funds within 90 days, so be prepared for a very quick RFP process once the bill passes.
Unfortunately, the House did not accept our proposal to fund the new University Sustainability Program at the Department of Education or other existing “green education” programs. But we are pressing the Senate to include these funds.
Details of the House programs are below:
Grants and Loans to Institutional Entities for Energy Sustainability and Efficiency (Department of Energy)
This funding provides $1 billion (at least $500 million must go to higher education) for grants to “institutional entities” (institutions of higher education; public school districts; local governments; and municipal utilities) to identify, design, and implement sustainable energy infrastructure projects and grants for energy efficiency innovative technologies projects on grounds and facilities of institutions. This funding includes four programs:
1. Technical Assistance Grants: DOE will implement a program of technical assistance to assist in identifying, evaluating, designing, and implementing sustainable energy infrastructure projects in energy sustainability. The DOE may also make grants up to $250,000 to fund a portion of the cost of feasibility studies, analysis and implementation of strategies, and detailed engineering of sustainable energy infrastructure.
2. GRANTS FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENT: Grants of 60% of the total cost up to $1 million each will be made to institutions (not less than 1 grant to an institution of higher education in each State) to carry out projects to improve energy efficiency on the institution’s grounds and facilities. The institution must also agree to implement a public awareness campaign concerning the project in the institution’s host community. Funding criteria include: energy efficiency improvement; reduction in greenhouse gas and other air emissions and pollutants; increased use of renewable energy sources or thermal energy sources; reduction in fossil fuel use; active student participation; and the need for funding assistance.
3. GRANTS FOR INNOVATION IN ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY: Grants of 75% of the total cost up to $500,000 each will be made to institutions to engage in innovative energy sustainability projects (not less than 2 grants to institutions of higher education in each State). An innovation project must involve an innovative technology that is not yet commercially available; or an available technology in an innovative application that maximizes energy efficiency and sustainability; have the greatest potential for testing or demonstrating new technologies or processes; and (for higher education) ensure active student participation throughout the project.
At least half of the higher education funding for #3 and #4 above must go to institutions with an endowment of less than $100,000,000, and of that amount, at least half must go to institutions with an endowment of less than $50,000,000. DOE also may impose a cost-sharing requirement.
4. LOAN FUNDS: $500 million is provided for loans to institutional entities for identifying, designing and implementing sustainable energy infrastructure projects and grants for energy efficiency innovative technologies projects on grounds and facilities of institutions. Funding criteria include: improvement in energy efficiency; reduction in greenhouse gas and other air emissions and pollutants; increased use of renewable electric energy sources or renewable thermal energy sources; reduction of fossil fuel use; and need for funding assistance, including consideration of the size of endowment or other financial resources.
SCHOOL MODERNIZATION, RENOVATION, AND REPAIR (Department of Education)
5. K-12: This program provides $14 billion for school modernization, renovation, and repair, to be allocated to States based on their FY 2008 allocation under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. State educational agencies will distribute these funds to school districts for health and safety repairs, access for disabled students, educational technology infrastructure upgrades, and energy efficiency projects. A school shall use not less than 25% of the funds for modernization, renovation, or repairs that are certified, verified, or consistent with LEED, Energy Star; the CHPS Criteria; Green Globes; or an equivalent program standards.
6. HIGHER EDUCATION: This program provides $6 billion for institutions of higher education for modernization, renovation, and repair projects. The funds will be distributed to States in proportion to the State’s share of full-time equivalent undergraduate students. Funding will then be allocated by States to institutions based on the demonstrated need of each institution for facility modernization, renovation, and repair, with priority given to institutions that serve high numbers of minority students, institutions impacted by a major disaster; and institutions proposing to improve energy efficiency. Again, a school shall use not less than 25% of the funds for modernization, renovation, or repairs that are certified, verified, or consistent with LEED, Energy Star; the CHPS Criteria; Green Globes; or an equivalent program standards.