For Immediate Release: January 14, 2010
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield - 916-654-4989


CA Cities Get $2.8 Million in Stimulus Loans for Energy Efficiency
Stimulus Also Funds $300,000 Emergency Plan for California Utilities

SACRAMENTO -- Nearly $2.8 million in low-interest federal stimulus loans will go to three California cities for innovative projects to cut energy use. As part of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), the California Energy Commission today approved funding for energy projects in Chula Vista, Rancho Mirage and Grover Beach. The stimulus funding is designated as Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants.

"The Schwarzenegger Administration is working to push Recovery funds into California quickly and responsibly to not only stimulate our economy, but in this instance help cut local energy use and costs," said California Economic Recovery Task Force Director Cynthia Bryant.

The bulk of the stimulus funds will go to the city of Chula Vista (San Diego County). A $2,051,600 loan will allow the county's second largest city to replace its 4,600 high pressure sodium streetlights with a more efficient induction system.

"This street lighting conversion will save the Chula Vista approximately $200,000 annually in energy costs, a 45 percent savings over the existing lamps," said California Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas. "The move to induction lighting will create brighter, safer roads even as it removes nearly 859,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. And since the new lamps last four times as long as the existing ones, Chula Vista will save on maintenance costs as well."

Chula Vista will be able to repay the loan from its energy savings alone in just over 10 years. The streetlight project will also receive a $43,108 incentive from the local utility, San Diego Gas & Electric.

Rancho Mirage (Riverside County) will use its $385,000 loan to upgrade the heating and air conditioning system at the city's public library. A new 150-ton chiller and chilled water control system will save the city approximately $33,300 a year in energy costs and will reduce CO2 emissions by 203,090 pounds annually.

"Rancho Mirage estimates the improvements will cut the library's energy bill by 40 percent," noted Douglas. "From the savings alone the city can repay the loan in 11.5 years."

In San Luis Obispo County, the small city of Grover Beach will use its just-approved $444,951 loan for a variety of energy efficiency projects. The city will upgrade aging lighting systems and replace old rooftop air conditioning units in a number of city buildings, retrofit 88 traffic and pedestrian signals with LED technology, and install power management software on 65 of the city's computers. Grover Beach will also install a 40-kilowatt photovoltaic system to create electricity at its City Hall.

Total cost of the energy projects is $600,000. In addition to today's loan amount, the city plans to pay for the improvements through a $71,058 grant from a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and $39,291 in rebates from its local utility, with the remainder of the cost coming from the city's general fund.

"Taken together, the energy improvements should save this Central Coast city over $34,000 a year in electricity and natural gas costs and reduce its CO2 emissions by 160,000 pounds a year," said Douglas.

From the energy savings Grover Beach should be able to repay the energy loan in 13 years.

All three loans approved today by the Energy Commission have a low interest rate of 1 percent.

The Commission also approved a $300,000 grant to the California Utilities Emergency Association (CUEA) for updating the state's Energy Assurance Plan. The update will incorporate recent advancements in technology such as smart grid and cybersecurity. The federal funds will assist in the planning two energy emergency exercises. The CUEA provides a structure for efficient communications and coordination among government agencies, public and private utilities, and community based organizations throughout the State. The association was created by a Joint Powers Agreement to represent California utilities on utility emergency-related issues.

Created by the Legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.

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