Tri-Cities gets $1.3M for energy projects

Kennewick, Pasco and Richland will receive almost $1.3 million in grants for energy efficiency and conservation projects from the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"The jobs this funding creates in construction and energy development will be a much-needed boost to local economies," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in a statement.

Kennewick will receive $589,700, Pasco will receive $495,500 and Richland will receive $204,300, they learned Thursday.

The money is part of approximately $56 million the Obama administration announced Thursday would be awarded to Washington and some of its counties and cities. Some money also will be given to tribes in the state.

"Local leaders will have the flexibility in how they put these resources to work," said Vice President Joe Biden in a statement. "But we will hold them accountable for making the investments quickly and wisely to spur the local economy and cut energy use."

Cities receiving the money based on their size and energy use under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program must submit plans on how they would use the money.

After they receive the money, they must report to the Department of Energy the number of jobs created or retained, energy saved, renewable energy capacity installed, greenhouse gas emissions reduced and funds leveraged.

"City, county and state governments are ready to step up and address our country's significant energy challenges, and these funds will allow them to do that today with dividends for years to come," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in a statement.

The block grants were authorized as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which Cantwell helped write.

The money is intended to be used for projects that reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions and improve energy efficiency.

Money can be used for a wide range of projects, including transportation projects that conserve energy. That could include bike lanes, pedestrian walkways and synchronized traffic lights.

Cities can choose to spend the money to install renewable energy technology in government buildings, such as solar power or light emitting diodes.

Other options include conducting energy audits of residential and commercial buildings or establishing loan or other financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements.

With the grants just announced Thursday, cities across the state are developing plans on how to use the money.

Pasco is working to identify potential energy savings in city buildings, said City Manager Gary Crutchfield, adding department managers have been asked to look for possible ways to save energy.

Money spent now should yield savings for years to come, Crutchfield said.