Free Money to Go Green

Small cities and counties in Texas have some extra money waiting for them through the federal stimulus package. About 45 million dollars in block grants is available for energy efficiency programs. Laurie Johnson has more.

A number of Houston-area municipalities are eligible for the grant money, including the city of Bellaire, Friendswood, Deer Park and half a dozen others.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation grants are part of the stimulus package targeted specifically to cities with populations under 35,000 and counties with populations under 200,000.

RJ DeSilva with the Texas Comptroller's office says the money is there already.  All the cities have to do is ask for it.

"It's not a competitive grant process. There are amounts allocated to all these different small cities and counties and the local governments will have to look through the guidelines and look through the different projects and decide whether to go ahead in accepting these funds or decline the funds. And then if they do accept it, we would send applications to the governments and help them go through the application projects. So the money is there for them to use if they would like it."

Cities like Friendswood and La Porte are eligible for $75,000. Smaller cities, such as Bunker Hill and Hedwig Village
can get $20,000.

DeSilva says the grants can be used for a variety of projects to conserve energy and save money.

"It could include things like installing motion-controlled lighting. There's also other projects that they could do like low-water plumbing fixtures and more energy efficient street lighting for example, for different traffic signals that may be out there in places. It runs the gamut in terms of different types of projects that these small cities and counties can use this money for."

The Comptroller's office is sending letters this week to the eligible city and county governments to notify them that there's money available for the taking.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...