Pat Quinn, governor of Illinois, has unveiled a $13.1m grant through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program to help local governments with populations under 35,000 implement energy efficiency and conservation efforts.

The competitive grant program is being made available through the State Energy Office at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and will be administered by the Illinois Association of Regional Planning Councils (ILARC).

Federal EECBG program dollars have been allocated by population to regional planning agencies, to serve cities and counties not entitled to direct grants from the US Department of Energy.

Each regional agency will provide a local Request for Application (RFA) for the program to interested grantees, tailored to that region’s needs.

Possible projects, depending on region, include creation of a strategic energy plan, residential and commercial building audits, energy retrofits, or purchasing hybrid, electric or alternative-fueled vehicles.

The regional councils and planning commissions in the ILARC membership were created to study regional conditions and needs, and develop strategies which enhance each region’s communities.

They provide advocacy, planning, technical assistance and project development in areas such as community development, transportation, housing, land use, energy efficiency, sold waste and natural resources.

Mr Quinn, said: ”The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program is a great example of how we’re using our investments in the green industry to grow our economy and create jobs, while creating a more sustainable living environment.”

Warren Ribley, director of DCEO, said: ”These stimulus grants will help small and medium size cities throughout the state invest in energy solutions that are clean, reliable and affordable while creating needed green sector jobs.”