California counties, cities, towns, townships, boards of education, or school districts qualify for up to $3Million to install money and energy saving technologies funded by the Energy Commission loan programs.
Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) loans for energy projects are not new, the program began in 1979, and as of December 2012 has disbursed $292,190,312 to a total of 784 public projects. Tracking from 2000 to 2012, there were 253 projects funded with $224,577,650, for reduced energy costs of $28,660,312 or reduced consumption of 288,637,558 kilowat hours.
Alarming was that according to the latest report, from 1979 to 2012 none of our West San Gabriel Valley cities including Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, Montebello had received any of these ECAA funds, excepting Alhambra with a $262,000 loan back in 1980.
Matter of fact, in the past two years, less than a handful of applicants in Los Angeles County had received any ECAA funds. In 2010, the City of Lancaster got $1,469,146 to upgrade sports field lighting, HVAC and solar hot water systems, and new weather stations for its water pumping; resulting in $137,969 savings in energy bills. Duarte also received, $226,666 for energy-efficient HVAC systems, lighting and equipment upgrades for $20,606 annual energy savings in 2010. The City of Los Angeles saved $81,376 after upgrading interior lighting and controls citywide from a $882,987 loan in 2011; and is expected to save another $46,887 per year from a loan of $426,526 received in December 2012.
The pot of gold held $25Million dollar fund, and due to slow response, around October 2012 the State reduced the interest rate from 3% to 1%. This attractive rate drew many cities and organizations to make a run on the ECAA funds. And by the start of 2013 applications were being waitlisted on a first-come first-served basis.
However, green-wishers have been pushing the new legislator for additional funding. At the same time, the funds are being replenished trickle by trickle as the ECAA is a revolving loan fund.
Possibly, West San Gabriel Valley cities were unaware of these green funds and money-saving technologies, unlikely. Residents can call on local city governments to seek out these energy efficient solutions as ultimately, residents are paying the electric bills to light and operate our cities.
Residents often report burnt out street lights only to have the City respond that it is the local utility provider that has not repaired the lights, though the City is paying the bill. A bigger problem than burned out lights is the cost of street lamps, the labor and machinery to replace them, and the high cost of electricity to light them from dust to dawn. And ECAA funds can be used to address issues of the sort.
Solutions to not only repair but to overall the street lighting system with new longlife equipment has potential longterm savings. For instance, light emitting diode (LED) or induction lighting technologies are proving to last well beyond 25 years, or better yet, solar-powered street lighting that require no electricity from the grid would qualify for funding under ECAA.
Energy rebates through Southern California Edison or the utility provider, on a per lamp or per fixture basis, are also used to paydown the loan faster. As is the case for the City of San Diego, that recently installed induction street lighting - expected to last more than 20 years - a cost of $16 million with a payback under 5 years, in part due to a $1.2 million instant lighting rebate from San Diego Gas & Electric.
Qualifications for the ECAA funds are pretty straightforward, even the application forms are just fill-in-the-blanks. The disbursements of funds is on a voucher basis, paid on invoices for completed work on approved projects, so the city would not have to be encumbered with the management of the total funds approved. From the annual savings, the city makes two payments per year for up to 15 years, based on simple payback model at a one percent interest rate.
Good news, residents are assured that no direct or new tax dollars will be going to repay the ECAA loans, the reduced cost of electricity usage and avoided maintenance costs provide adequate savings to cover the loan payment, as demonstrated by other cities already utilizing the funds and advanced energy-efficient technologies.