Alabama’s State Energy Office Announces Funding for Two Critical New Energy Programs with Fast-Approaching Deadlines

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) recently announced two new vital energy programs for Alabamians, both of which are funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and administered by the Department of Energy (DOE).

State Energy Program (SEP) IIJA Energy-Efficiency Retrofits Program

The State Energy Program (SEP) IIJA Energy-Efficiency Retrofits Program is the first program, and its application deadline of July 14 is rapidly approaching. This program offers grants for the purchase and installation of energy-efficient upgrades at existing facilities in the state. 

Typically, an energy retrofit involves modifying an existing building with newer equipment, appliances, or properties that make it functional or efficient and reduce its energy burden on the grid and its occupant. 

This program is open to municipalities, counties, public and private K-12 schools, public and private higher education institutions, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, commercial businesses, and utilities.

Which Projects Qualify?

According to the ADECA webinar on the program page, an applicant’s project is eligible if it will save electricity, except for breaking ground or modifying a historic structure. This means that all LED lighting upgrades, insulation improvements, green/cool roof installations, electric heat pump installations, and solar panel installations are eligible projects. 

Energy Efficiency Unit Chief Carl Frost noted in the ADECA informational webinar for this program that the majority of projects have involved lighting, HVAC, programmable thermostats, and insulation. 

All energy efficiency projects must have a payback period of 10 years or less, except photovoltaic systems (solar panels). The program mandates that these systems be installed on existing rooftops, parking shade structures, or ground-mounted systems with a maximum capacity of 60 kWh. The capacity of solar thermal heating systems cannot exceed 20 kilowatt-hours. 

The only explicit limitation on project eligibility provided by ADECA is that energy-efficient windows and doors are ineligible for this program because, according to the webinar, these savings are difficult to calculate.

How Much Funding Is Available to Applicants?

The project grants range from $50,000 to $250,000, and a price match is not required from the eligible entity. Applicants will be required to demonstrate their savings calculations in the application to justify their total grant request and federal calculators are available to assist with this process.

When is the Deadline?

Applications for the Energy-Efficiency Retrofits Program are due by 11:59 p.m. CST on July 14, 2023. Eligible applicants should submit their applications as soon as possible. 

Where to Find More Information?

If you are an eligible entity interested in this program, please visit ADECA’s official page for the State Energy Program (SEP) and Energy Efficiency Programs for more information, the webinar, the full application, and contact information.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program

Another DOE-administered program resulting from IIJA funding is ADECA’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program

While the name sounds similar to the previous program, the EECBG program is designed to assist states, local governments, and Tribes in implementing more broad energy and emission reduction strategies, as well as improving energy efficiency, and it includes both the building and transportation sectors. 

Which Projects Qualify?

Simply put, any project that is designed to reduce emissions and energy consumption, or to increase energy efficiency, is eligible. 

According to the DOE’s official page for the EECBG program, eligible projects for using this program include but are not limited to:

  • Development and implementation of an energy efficiency and conservation strategy
  • Conducting residential and commercial building energy audits;
  • Establishment of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements
  • Development and implementation of building codes and inspection services to promote building energy efficiency
  • Development and implementation of programs to conserve energy used in transportation
  • The purchase and implementation of technologies to reduce, capture, and, to the maximum extent practicable, use methane and other greenhouse gases generated by landfills or similar sources
  • Development, implementation, and installation of renewable energy on or in government buildings

Check out the National League of Cities’ article “Maximize EECBG Funding in Your Community” for more examples of EECBG projects taking place in other cities. 

Who Qualifies for this Program?

This is where things get a little tricky but bear with us. This program is available to two types of eligible entities: “Eligible Entities” and “Ineligible Entities.” 

While both “Eligible Entities” and “Ineligible Entities” are eligible for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, the main difference is that “Eligible Entities” grants are reserved for specific larger cities, counties, and tribes and are not competitive, whereas “Ineligible Entities” grants are competitive, rather than automatic, and would likely cater to smaller, more rural cities, counties, and tribes looking to do emission reduction projects. 

Eligible Entities Include:

  • Cities with a population of at least 35,000 or the state’s 10 most populous cities
  • Counties with a population of over 200,000 or in the state’s top ten most populous counties.
  • Federally recognized Indian Tribes Assistance Act
  • States and territories
  • Direct formula allocation recipients from the Department of Energy

Auburn, Birmingham, Decatur, Dothan, Florence, Hoover, Huntsville, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Phenix City, Prattville, Tuscaloosa, and Vestavia Hills are among the Alabama cities that meet this criteria.

Baldwin, Calhoun, Etowah, Jefferson, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Mobile, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa counties all meet the criteria.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians also qualifies for $11,020 of funding.

How Is the Funding Amount Determined?

The amount of funding for these entities is determined by a formula that takes into account the population served by the local government as well as the local government’s daytime population. Jefferson County, for example, is eligible for $348,100 in funding, while the City of Birmingham is eligible for $252,880. While Lee County in Alabama is eligible for $78,040 in funding, Auburn is eligible for $131,740. 

Ineligible Entities Include:

  • Cities and Counties not meeting the criteria above
  • State-recognized Indian Tribes
  • Entities that do not receive direct formula allocations from the U.S. Department of Energy
  • All other entities Eligible for the federal competitive portion and state mandatory portion of 60%

Ineligible Entities are still eligible for $1.3 million in competitive ADECA grants, which represents a required 60% of the $2.2 million allocated to ADECA’s Energy Division to operate the program.

Important Dates

The deadline to submit a full application to ADECA for eligible cities, counties, and tribal governments is January 31, 2024. While this may seem far away, it is currently unknown how many entities in Alabama are even aware of this funding, and project planning can take months. 

The deadline for “Ineligible Entities” is still being determined, but it is likely to fall after the deadline for “Eligible Entities.”

Where to Find More Information?

More information on applying for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program can be found on ADECA’s program page. You can also learn more about the program by visiting the Department of Energy’s EECBG page

In Closing

Alabamians mustn’t overlook the opportunities made available by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed in 2021 but much of which is only now reaching our state. 

The State Energy Energy-Efficiency Retrofits Program and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program are two of these opportunities, and ADECA’s participation in these programs is a positive step toward ensuring access to sustainable energy for all Alabamians. 

If you are eligible and interested in either or both of these programs, please visit the ADECA program pages and submit your application as soon as possible. 

If you have any questions, you can reach Energy Alabama through our contact page, and we will point you in the right direction.

You can sign up for our newsletter on our support page if you’d like to receive updates on Energy Alabama’s efforts to ensure that all Alabamans have access to sustainable energy.

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