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ARRA E-Newsletter
November 16, 2009

Consumer Rebates Planned for Winter, Spring
Nationwide Total: $300 million
Illinois' share:  $12,379,000

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help consumers save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.  The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. 

DCEO submitted Illinois' ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Plan to the U.S. DOE on October 15, containing two phases: DCEO will offer rebates on heating and cooling equipment (furnaces, central AC, heat pumps, water heaters) starting this winter and offer the program until the funds are depleted. 

The second phase is for an appliance rebate campaign this spring (targeting Earth Day) lasting no more than a few weeks, offering rebates through retailers of 10-15% on Energy Star white goods (refrigerators, washers, dishwashers, freezers, room air conditioners), plus an additional rebate of $50-100 if the old appliance is turned in for recycling.  The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is the program administrator.  DCEO is also working with utilities and the Illinois Retail Merchants' Association.

Governor Releases Additional $10 Million for Dislocated Worker Training

Within ARRA, an unprecedented level of funding for the public workforce development system and associated employment and training programs is available to support unemployed and underemployed workers in their quest to reestablish themselves in viable

pathways. Of the $126 million allotted to workforce services, $51.3 million was dedicated to dislocated worker assistance. This funding is being administered and spent concurrently with regular formula funds to greatly increase the capacity of the Illinois workforce system to serve workers in need.

The program mandates that 15% of these funds be reserved for statewide rapid response activities when areas experience mass layoffs, closings, disasters or other catastrophic events. Usually the 26 local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs) in Illinois apply for these funds through an application process. However, given the economy and high unemployment rates statewide, the Governor bypassed the application process in favor of immediately releasing an additional $10 million of ARRA funds for Dislocated Workers.

As of October 27, less than three weeks after the allocation was distributed, more than 5,000 dislocated workers have received services with thousands more expected to get needed support.

Dislocated workers should visit http://www.illinoisworknet.com to find benefits. Otherwise contact DCEO's Office of Workforce Development at Michael.Baker@illinois.gov.

DCEO Applies for $6 Million for Green Sector Partnerships

Illinois is explicitly linking policy in the areas of energy, sustainability and employment. Its strategy for job creation in the new energy economy - developed in collaboration with the Midwest Governor's Association -  focuses on five major areas: (1) Energy Efficiency, (2) Renewable Energy, (3) Transportation Efficiency and Renewable Fuels,(4) Clean Coal Energy, and (5) Energy-related Manufacturing. On October 19, DCEO submitted its application to the U.S. Department of Labor for $6 million for the Energy Efficiency and Renewal Energy sectors. Illinois's initial State Energy Sector Partnership (SESP) strategy focuses on the first two of these - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (wind and solar) - the areas in which immediate opportunity exists to train and employ both new labor market entrants and at-risk or dislocated workers who needs new skills to advance their careers. The awards for the SESP are expected to be

announced by the federal government sometime in March.

WIA-Sector Grant Announcements Expected in December

DCEO's Office of Workforce Development solicited proposals in September to prevent dislocation, to support recovery in key sectors by accelerating investment in the skills of Illinois' workers, and to build upon regional sector-based initiatives.  The four key sectors are Healthcare and Healthcare IT; Manufacturing; Transportation/Distribution/Logistics; and Green Initiatives. 

All applicants will be notified via email of the determination in early December and selected grantees will be contacted to negotiate terms of the grant.  DCEO will host a grantee training in mid-December and the projects will start January 1, 2010.  

 For information, contact DCEO's Office of Workforce Development at tammy.stone@illinois.gov.

Leveraging Federal ARRA Funding to Make Broadband Access a Reality

ARRA provides $7.2 billion in federal funding for broadband infrastructure, mapping, training, and education to unserved and underserved communities.  The federal application deadline for the first of three ARRA funding rounds was in August, and the federal government has not announced recipients yet.  Illinois is supporting ARRA applicants in several ways:

  • Technical Grant Writing Assistance: Illinois established a technical assistance network of university-affiliated personnel with federal grant-writing experience to support Illinois-based ARRA applicants. Through DCEO and Connect Illinois, the State provided (at no cost) these university consultants to aid 16 applicants in the preparation, review and online submission of ARRA broadband proposals. 

  • DCEO Matching Grants: The 2009 Illinois Capital Bill provides $50 million to DCEO for grants and loans to help achieve the goals of ARRA. The State offered financial commitments totaling $41 million to 16 qualified applicants to serve as a portion of matching costs should the applicants be awarded ARRA funding. The chosen projects would expand and strengthen health information technology, telemedicine, distance learning, or public safety network infrastructure through broadband.

  • Prioritization: Illinois contacted every relevant applicant, and asked organizations to submit their completed Broadband Opportunities Program (BTOP) federal applications electronically to the State.  Two inter-agency panels representing Illinois infrastructure, health, education and public safety departments reviewed all submitted proposals in their respective categories.  The panels used NTIA scoring criteria, keeping state priorities in mind, to designate 31 projects as highly recommended to the NTIA.

As the first round has yet to be awarded, DCEO anticipates that the second round of federal funding will occur after the first of the year. For more information, visit www.broadband.illinois.gov.

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Uses ARRA Funds to Improve Wind Turbines

Photo of a three-bladed wind turbine standing among corn rows, with two other wind turbines in the background.On October 16, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced new investments in three university-led wind energy research facilities that will enhance the United States' leadership role in testing and producing the most advanced and efficient wind turbines in the world. An Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) led consortium was selected for up to $8 million in ARRA funds to support university research and development programs, and includes partners from private industry, state and local governments, and other universities.

The IIT-led consortium members will perform focused research on critical wind energy challenges identified in the "20% Wind Energy by 2030" report, including wind technology challenge, grid system integration, and workforce challenge. The university consortium's research and development plan includes advanced concepts for rotor control and drive train control, robust sensors for blades, and improved aero elastic models to improve wind turbine performance and reliability.

The close proximity of IIT's turbine in Marseilles to an existing wind farm provides an ideal opportunity to study turbine-to-turbine wake interaction, wind farm interaction, and wind energy efficiencies. IIT will develop and offer wind energy courses addressing the technical, operational, social, and environmental aspects of wind energy in consultation with industry. Fellowships will be offered annually to masters and undergraduate students in wind energy engineering fields of study.

For more information, contact DCEO's partner, the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, at jwillis@ISTCoalition.org.

State Energy Program

Announcements of grant awards for the State Energy Program (SEP) by DCEO's Office of Energy are expected to begin by the end of November. Illinois is awarding $101.3 million of the $3.1 nationwide total.

SEP promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, biofuels and recycling. DCEO

announced the following U.S. Department of Energy-approved grant opportunities in August:

  • Green Roofs Program

  • Electric Efficiency Program

  • Thermal Efficiency Program for Public Facilities

  • Large Customer Energy Efficiency Program

  • Renewable Energy Production Program

  • Community Renewable Energy Program

  • Green Industry Business Development Program

  • Next Generation Biofuels Production Program
     

DCEO received 500+ applications totaling more than $3 billion in projects by the October 26 due date. It is probable the first-round applicants have enough worthy projects to meet the $100M level, so it is more doubtful that there will be a round two. 

For more information, visit www.illinoisenergy.org
 

Illinois Weatherization Program Grows under ARRA

Friday, October 30 was National Weatherization Day, recognizing the hard work thousands of Americans are doing to improve residential energy efficiency. ARRA provides $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program nationwide. In Illinois, DCEO and its partners are targeting homes with the highest energy bills and the lowest incomes. More than $97 million in ARRA funds will come through DCEO's Office of Energy Assistance this fiscal year. Over a two-year period, a total of $242 million will be spent to help Illinois families.

Thanks to the influx, the state's network of Community Action Agencies is expected to weatherize 22,000 homes, more than doubling the 7,000 homes weatherized last year. Weatherization can help low-income families - those most vulnerable to rising energy costs - to lower their energy bills by an average $350 per year. The spending limit per home is $6,500.

Find the weatherization provider in your area.

Read a letter from a satisfied weatherization customer.