City, county get Jobs Bill money for energy projects

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

by Amanda Ricker

Bozeman and Gallatin County will receive more than $374,000 in federal Jobs Bill money for energy-efficiency projects, Montana’s U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced Thursday.

Bozeman officials said the city’s $175,500 share might be used for energy-saving building components at the city’s Swim Center, wastewater treatment plant or water treatment plant.

While the $175,500 is a relatively small amount of money given the scope of the city’s infrastructure needs, Finance Director Anna Rosenberry said every little bit helps.

“It is additional money that we hadn’t been planning on,” she said.

The city had requested $5 million for green components at the wastewater treatment plant through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, which is distributing the jobs bill money, said City Manager Chris Kukulski.
Gallatin County Administrator Earl Mathers said the county also asked for more than the $198,700 it will receive. It will likely use the federal funds to make its buildings more energy efficient, too, by upgrading heating and cooling systems, among other things.

Park County is also expected to receive $67,100 as part of this federal spending program, the senators said.

The amount the Montana cities and counties received is based on a national formula that takes into account population size, Murphy said. Larger cities and counties, in addition to tribes, were identified as funding recipients.

“Right now the checks are sitting there, so to speak,” Murphy said. “Cities need to apply and fill out the paperwork to get the money.”

Overall, Montana will receive $15.5 million, or less than 1 percent, of the $3.2 billion being doled out for the energy projects nationally, said Aaron Murphy, spokesman for Tester. The money can be used for projects ranging from energy-efficient traffic signals and street lights to the capture and use of methane gas from landfills.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality received the largest share, $9.6 million, of Montana’s energy-efficiency funds, Murphy said. That money is expected to be doled out to communities across the state for energy-conservation projects.

“These dollars will go straight to Main Street Montana to create jobs,” Tester said in a statement. “While putting folks to work upgrading buildings and improving transportation, we’re also investing in Montana communities. All of it will help rebuild our economy, which is why I voted for the Jobs Bill.”

The $15.5 million in energy-efficiency funding is in addition to the $52 million Montana is already receiving from the Jobs Bill for weatherization projects and for Montana’s State Energy Program.