ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 23, 2009)—Governor Martin OMalley on Jan. 7 launched the EmPOWER Clean Energy Communities initiative to help local governments and nonprofits fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The new program, run by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) will provide $8 million this fiscal year in low interest loans and grants to local governments and nonprofits. This news comes on the heels of the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approving a series of orders that will enable Maryland citizens and businesses to take advantage of energy audits, rebates and other energy efficiency and conservation programs that are projected to reduce energy consumption by nearly 5% by 2011.
These programs will not only help build a more sustainable energy future for our State, remarked Governor OMalley, but they will also provide the opportunity for community organizations and local governments to have the resources needed to better serve our citizens, while supporting a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland.
The grants and loans available are intended to assist eligible organizations with improvements that will increase energy savings and decrease their monthly electricity bills. A portion of the funding under both programs is dedicated specifically for projects that help low and moderate income households.
The Jane E. Lawton Conservation Loan Program provides low-interest financing to local governments, nonprofits and businesses for projects that can be paid back out of the energy savings over time. This program, for example, could be used to finance an energy efficient HVAC system for a town hall or a new refrigeration system for a food bank, with the future energy savings going towards repayment of the loan.
Additionally, the Community Clean Energy Grant program will provide funds to local governments, community groups and non-profit organizations to facilitate projects that increase the energy efficiency and/or the use of renewable energy to benefit the local government or community and promote affordable, reliable, and clean energy. Examples may include a housing authority that makes improvements to a building complex to reduce the energy bills of the low income residents, a community group that offers to coordinate no-cost energy retrofits in a particular neighborhood, or a feasibility study to enable a town to analyze opportunities for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy.
The Maryland Energy Administration is thrilled to be able to partner with local, community-minded groups to make continued strides in realizing our shared energy efficiency goals. This marks yet another step towards meeting our States EmPOWER Maryland goal of 15% reduced energy consumption by 2015.
Funding for the programs comes from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund, which was created from public auctions of carbon credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The grants and loans are expected to be awarded in the spring, subject to approval by the General Assembly of a pending budget amendment. The proposed regulations for the loan program were entered into the Maryland Register on Jan. 2, 2009. Guidelines for the grant program are on the MEA website: www.energy.maryland.gov
Source: Gov. O'Malley's Office