Akron poised to receive federal energy efficiency grant; ‘Green’ projects ready to use stimulus money

June 16, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night passed legislation which authorizes the city to apply for $2 million in stimulus money to fund energy efficiency projects.

The money, from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, would be divided among the private sector and the city to improve energy conservation for residents and the city administration.

The grant will also contribute to the local economy, said Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Terry Albanese.

"Most of the money is going to the private sector, which will increase business for several Akron companies," Albanese (W-6) said. "We already have identified certain industries that we will tap to implement a number of green projects."

The largest portion, 70 percent of the funds will be used to help low-income residents improve the energy efficiency of their homes and to build up to 10 homes that are 60 percent more efficient than current Energy Star standards. Twenty-five percent, about $500,000, of the money will be used to purchase 10 hybrid city vehicles from a local General Motors or Ford dealership. The remaining five percent will cover project administrative costs.

"This grant would help businesses that specialize in energy-saving replacement windows, roofing, and heating and air conditioning improvements," said Albanese, who introduced the legislation. "Of course the city would purchase the cars locally.

"In the past the city has always purchased Chevrolets and Fords. We'd be buying those cars anyway; we just will have money to buy hybrids or other energy efficient vehicles."

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - or Economic Stimulus - authorized the Department of Energy to make grants to local governments for the purpose of creating and implementing strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions, reduce cities' energy use and improve energy efficiency in the building sector.

Cities that receive stimulus funds are required to immediately implement projects in order to boost the local economies.

"Because we have the Greenprint for Akron we have some shovel-ready projects even though they're not necessarily constriction," Albanese said, referring to a 2008 official pledge by the city to work toward climate and environmental protection while contributing to economic growth. "There was already a plan in place, and we now know where we can spend the money."