(The Center Square) – In an effort to provide incentives for energy efficiency projects in municipal and cooperative power territories, the Illinois EPA has established a new grant program.
Up to $ 2 million is available for nonprofits, municipal authorities and public housing authorities who are customers of municipal and cooperative electricity utilities in Illinois to improve the performance of buildings in low-income communities.
Chad Kruse, director of the Illinois EPA Office of Energy, said this effort is an investment in Illinois’ future.
âWhen we invest in energy efficiency, it reduces the energy demand felt by residents of Illinois,â he said. “If we remove part of the demand placed on coal-fired power plants, we are making significant investments for reasons of air quality and public health.”
Investor-owned utilities have programs with incentives for non-profit organizations and public housing authorities. This effort expands opportunities for low-income housing providers who are clients of municipal utilities and co-ops.
Kruse said the improvements will benefit low-income residents.
âThe EPA wants residents of the properties to enjoy lower energy bills and greater comfort in their homes,â Kruse said.
At the official launch of the program, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John Kim said the goals are to “conserve energy, lower utility bills, increase resident comfort and improve the performance of residents. buildings in environmental justice (EJ) and energy-intensive communities “.
Kruse said grants will be prioritized in areas designated by EJ. The IEPA defines the “EJ area of ââconcern” as a group of census blocks with a low-income and / or minority population greater than twice the state average, the IEPA website says.
âWe evaluate grant applications based on energy savings per dollar invested. The greater the energy savings for every dollar invested, the more likely it is that a subsidy will be awarded. Kruse said.
Kruse expects approved projects to include retrofitting heating and cooling equipment, replacing windows and improving lighting. Grants will range from $ 25,000 to $ 500,000. There is a match requirement.
âThe Illinois EPA has looked at how we can better advance energy efficiency in hard-to-reach demographics,â Kruse said.
The grants program is an effort to achieve this goal, he noted.
Funding for the program comes from the Illinois State Energy Efficiency Trust Fund, a state fund that is being used for the first time. The fund was created to benefit residential energy customers by reducing energy demand.