Guide to Local Recovery Update: Jan. 25

Jan 25, 2023

Over 200 cities in California are eligible for a federal energy block grant and the deadline for a key transportation grant program is quickly approaching. Additionally, any remaining State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) must be "obligated” by Dec. 31, 2024. Cities that do not obligate the full amount of their SLFRF award by the deadline risk losing the opportunity to spend their allocated dollars and the money will be returned to the federal government.

Your city could be eligible for this key energy block grant 

The U.S. Department of Energy opened the application process for its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) last week. The formula grant program supports initiatives that reduce fossil fuel emissions, decrease total energy use, and improve energy efficiency. Over 200 cities in California are eligible Over 200 cities in California are eligible for funding funding.

Although formula grants are noncompetitive, cities must submit an application to receive the funding. The minimum pre-award amount is $76,170, but most cities are set to receive more than $150,000. All eligible entities must complete a pre-award application sheet by April 28 to receive funding. Matching funds are not required.

Cities that do not meet the criteria for the formula funds are eligible to apply for $8.8 million in competitive EECBG grants. Cal Cities will share information about that process as it is released.

The Energy Department has an online portal with extensive application information, administrative guidelines, templates, and upcoming webinars. The next webinar is scheduled for Jan. 26 and includes a Q&A session. The webinar will provide guidance on the application process, assist eligible cities with strategic planning, and help align projects with federal environmental justice goals.

Unlike previous versions of the program, funding can also be used for renewable energy, zero-emission transportation, and energy efficiency projects. The National League of Cities released an overview of potentially eligible projects, relevant resources, and other funding opportunities that can be leveraged alongside the program. 

The program also has an optional voucher program for communities that receive less than $250,000. Instead of receiving the formula grant, the value can be exchanged for technical assistance or as an equipment rebate.

City leaders can also complete an optional information collection form to stay in direct contact with the Energy Department about the program. Additional information is expected in the coming weeks.

American Rescue Plan Act dollars deadline

Any remaining State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), which were provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, must be "obligated” by Dec. 31, 2024. For cities on a June 1-June 30 fiscal year, this upcoming budget cycle will be the last full fiscal year to incur expenses with these dollars.

Cities that do not obligate the full amount of their SLFRF award by the deadline risk losing the opportunity to spend their allocated dollars and the money will be returned to the federal government. It is important for local governments to focus on using these dollars to best serve their communities ahead of the deadline.

Surface transportation grant funding to go to both urban and rural areas

The U.S. Department of Transportation is accepting applications for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program. RAISE grants fund surface transportation projects that will have a significant local or regional impact, with a focus on those that address climate change and racial equity concerns.

According to the Transportation Department, “The eligibility requirements of RAISE allow project sponsors to obtain funding for projects that are harder to support through other U.S. DOT grant programs.” A list of previously funded projects and related webinars is available online.

Funding will be split equally between urban and rural areas. At least $15 million will go towards projects located in Areas of Persistent Poverty or Historically Disadvantaged Communities. Projects in these areas are eligible for up to 100% federal cost share, as directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Applications are due Feb. 28.

City officials looking for additional information about the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, or additional recovery tools can visit the Cal Cities Guide to Local Recovery portal.