Over the past 18 months, the federal government has introduced multiple pieces of legislation that have supplied states with money for COVID relief efforts and other resources states have been seeking. Though the initial Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the later Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act provided funding to states, many state legislatures directed those monies towards necessary COVID health measures. However, just this past Marchwas signed into law and committed the federal government to supplying billions of dollars to all 50 states with new specific allotments of funding.
With a total of $1.9 trillion granted by Congress, the breakdown of these funds allocated $656.18 billion towards financial assistance measures, $362 billion towards state and local recovery efforts, $211.57 billion to education, $86.24 billion towards health, $56.27 billion to individuals and families, $40.16 billion to transportation, and a final $61.32 billion towards other agendas.
Each state was denoted a specificbased on population and pandemic recovery efforts, with specific attention towards unemployment. Although states were sanctioned to direct some of their funding towards initiatives outlined by the federal government, states also have some amount of independence to spend money as they see fit. As several Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have and continue to lead in energy efficiency, the NEEP region is dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars towards several projects across the region.
Though states have implemented and are implementing many energy efficient projects in the region, a specific number of states have moved forward on their plans with the help of ARPA funds and left over money from the CARES and HEROES Act. To better understand how these funds are being used, NEEP highlights how Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont are allocating their spending. While many of these states are using ARPA-specific funding for their projects,is using a mix of these for their energy efficiency endeavors. While some states have wide-ranging goals, others have yet to be implemented by law. However, many of these six states have directed their funding towards similar energy efficient matters, as well as having state specific goals.
Utilities (Arrearages/Bill Assistance)
Between these six states, the most common allocation of funding was directed towards utility companies and programs in the form of arrearage or bill assistance. In millions of dollars, New Jersey directed $2.5 (), Connecticut $46.4 ( ), Maryland $103 ( ), and Massachusetts $50 ( ). New Jersey is supplying with utility funds. Connecticut’s funding will be directed towards grid improvements and upgrading utility systems. Though Maryland is devoting $83 million to eliminating/reducing arrearages, the other $20 million will be to expand the state’s which will now include customers “67 years of age and older with limited annual incomes.” Finally, Massachusetts’s utility funds will be in the form of bill assistance for small businesses owned by “minorities, women, and veterans.”
New Jersey ($180), Maryland ($80), and Massachusetts ($100) have set plans to use the specific education funding for restructuring schools to make them more efficient. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) allows states to allocate ARPA funding towards certain measures within their educational system.is also using money to support renovations, installing HVAC systems, ensuring better air quality exists, and getting rid of environmental hazards. Similarly, will devote its full $80 million towards the building, repairing, and upgrading of HVAC systems. will implement and re-implement HVAC systems in accordance with the CDC and EPA, ensuring all schools are up to state building code standards.
Weatherization – Energy Efficient Retrofits
Connecticut ($10), Maine ($50), and Vermont ($21) will apply ARPA funds to weatherization programs with incentives. Connecticut will tackle health and safety concerns in buildings. Maine will focus on ways in which “low income, older residents, and renters” can adopt several weatherization initiatives. Vermont hopes to use their funding to partner with healthcare systems in order to address issues associated with air quality and increase the use of electrification.
Energy Efficiency and Electrification Programs
Maine ($50) () and Vermont ($29) ( ) have both directed money towards building and restructuring homes to make them more energy efficient. Maine is directing its money towards affordable energy efficient housing efforts as the state has encouraged the Department of Economic and Community Development to work alongside different communities. This specific initiative will also grow the clean energy workforce. Vermont’s restructuring projects will be in the form of fuel switching and electrification incentives. Stakeholders and utility companies will be running experiments to ensure renewable energy and heat pumps can be used effectively across the state replacing gas cooling and heating systems.
Both Connecticut and Massachusetts are spending $100 million towards equity housing measures. In Connecticut some of the funds will be used to re-invest in homes’ environmental standards and loan programs. Massachusetts’s money will be supplemented to affordable housing projects. Although this funding is being directed to low-income housing through housing agencies in both states, the region may be able to direct some of the money towards energy efficiency projects.
These six states not only have comprehensive energy efficiency plans but they also have strategies that outline the use of federal funding. Though Washington D.C., New York, and Rhode Island are also leaders in energy efficiency, they have yet to provide clear information about how they will be using their ARPA money. Withthrough the newly-signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, many states in the NEEP region will use funds to grow electric vehicle charging infrastructure, improve transportation systems, and build a clean energy workforce.
There is a variety of different monies being allocated to different projects, so time will tell how effective these states are at implementing federal funding towards energy efficiency. Thanks to the federal government, the money has arrived; now it’s time for the work to begin.