New Survey Examines Cities Use of Stimulus Funds for Energy Projects

A recently released survey, conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, examines the use of the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG). Created under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the grant program received $2.7 billion in funding to be distributed to cities, counties, states and tribal governments to invest in energy efficient infrastructure upgrades.

Out of 204 survey participants, 62 percent of the respondents invested EECBG funds in new programs not originally included in the area’s climate or energy plans. 55 percent of the respondents were able to implement previously planned programs or policies that had not previously had funding.  A majority of these funds (around 87 percent) were spent on municipal projects such as improving city-owned buildings, upgrading to LED streetlights, or on renewable energy practices.

While the tangible benefits of these EECBG funded projects are easily observed (annual electricity costs were reduced by nearly 50 percent due to LED installation), some cities see the broader benefits outside of saving money on electricity. One respondent to the survey said, “These funds helped change the mindset about energy reduction.” Another claimed, “these funds helped establish the credibility of renewable energy as a reliable and affordable alternative.” Mayors are hoping to use their city or local government’s EECBG funded projects’ success to encourage Congress to continue funding these grants.