On April 26, 2011, this program was suspended by LB 385.
On July 1, 2014, the program will recommence and allow a qualifying utility provider to remit up to $50,000
(matched by State funds) into a fund to be used for energy conservation improvement grants.
Low-Income Home Energy Conservation Act
The Low-Income Home Energy Conservation Act (Laws 2008, LB 1001) provides assistance for certain energy-related home improvements by making funds available to eligible low-income Nebraska residents. The improvements are accomplished through grants offered by participating utility providers to the eligible residents.
The grants are available to eligible residents from funds deposited in the Energy Conservation Improvement Fund (Fund). This Fund is administered by the Nebraska Department of Revenue (Department). There will be a separate subaccount within the Fund for each participating utility provider. To participate, a utility provider will apply by filing an Energy Conservation Improvement Fund Program Application, Form 18, with the Department to indicate that it will provide funds for this program. Beginning July 1, 2014, an eligible utility provider may remit up to $50,000, regardless of sales and use tax receipts, to the Department for deposit into its Fund subaccount. That designated amount will be matched with an equal amount of funds budgeted by the State for this purpose and deposited into the utility's Fund subaccount. The State matching funds are limited to $250,000 annually and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the matching funds are depleted, no further deposits from utility providers will be accepted. See Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 66-1014 and 66-1015.
Example: Bugeater Public Power District (BPPD) decides to participate in the grant program by budgeting $5,000 of BPPD funds for this purpose. BPPD files an application with the Department and, after the application is approved, sends a $5,000 check to the Department for deposit into its Fund subaccount. The State will match this with an equal amount of State general fund money for a total deposit of $10,000 into the BPPD Fund subaccount. This $10,000 will be available to BPPD to provide grants to its eligible low-income customers as described below.
The following entities are eligible to designate monies for deposit into the Fund. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1014:
- A public power district organized under Chapter 70, article 6, of the Nebraska Revised Statutes;
- A rural public power district organized under Chapter 70, article 8, of the Nebraska Revised Statutes;
- An electric cooperative corporation organized under the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act. See Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 70-701 to 70-738;
- A nonprofit corporation organized for the purpose of furnishing electric service;
- A joint entity organized under the Interlocal Cooperation Act. See Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-801 to 13-827; or
- A municipality.
The funds from the eligible entity will be remitted to the Department using the Energy Conservation Improvement Fund Program Remittance, Form 18REM, and together with the matching state general fund monies, will be used to fund the grants provided to eligible residents.
Any utility provider that has designated and remitted monies into its Fund subaccount will establish and administer a program of eligible energy conservation grants beginning on or after July 1, 2014. Designated funds remitted from participating utility providers will not be accepted prior to that date. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1015.
An “eligible person” is any resident of Nebraska: who is a customer of the participating utility provider; who owns his or her residence; and whose household income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1014.
An eligible person can apply for a grant through this program for installing an “eligible energy conservation improvement” in his or her residence. An eligible energy conservation improvement means a device, method, equipment, or material that reduces consumption of, or increases efficiency in, the use of electricity or natural gas in the residence of an eligible person. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1014
. These items include, but are not limited to:
- Caulking and weatherstripping;
- Furnace efficiency modifications;
- Insulation and ventilation;
- Replacement or modification of lighting fixtures or bulbs to increase the energy efficiency of the home’s lighting system;
- Storm or thermal doors or windows;
- Systems to turn off or vary the delivery of energy; and
- Thermostat or lighting controls.
An eligible person may apply to the participating utility provider for grant money through that provider’s program. The participating provider (or other entity or agency contracted to administer the program on behalf of the utility provider) must be able to verify the purchase and installation of the eligible energy conservation improvement at the customer’s residence. The participating provider may require the customer to pay for a share of the total cost, not to exceed 20%, of the energy conservation improvement. The share of the cost to be paid by the customer may be recovered by the participating provider in monthly installments after completion of the improvement by adding an amount to the customer’s utility bill. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1016.
The participating provider will then certify to the Department the amount of money to be distributed from the applicable subaccount of the Energy Conservation Improvement Fund using the Energy Conservation Improvement Fund Program Grant Distribution, Form 18D. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1016.
These distributions will be made directly to the participating utility provider, no more than once per month. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1016.
Beginning April 1, 2015, and annually on or before each April 1 afterwards, every utility provider participating in the program for energy conservation grants will provide a report to the Department describing each eligible grant made by the provider during the preceding calendar year. The report must also identify the eligible energy conservation improvement for which each of the grants was made. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1015.
Beginning September 1, 2012, and by September 1 of each even-numbered year, any eligible entity planning on administering a program of eligible energy conservation improvements must notify the Department of the amount the entity plans to remit for each of the next two fiscal years. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 66-1015.
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