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Joyce Endee

Shaheen helps Cos win appeal

County now eligible for $138,000 in energy-saving projects

August 26, 2009
WEST STEWARTSTOWN — Cos County won its appeal to the Department of Energy (DOE) and on Wednesday was declared eligible for additional funding for energy efficiency and conservation projects through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds.

Once county administrator Sue Collins brought the issue to the attention of Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the senator was successful in fighting to reverse the DOE decision that had excluded all 10 New Hampshire counties from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. If this exclusion had stayed in place, the Granite State would have lost its eligibility for $4 million for energy efficiency projects.

"On Wednesday, Virginia Lipton from the US Department of Energy (DOE) informed me that Cos County's appeal for the ARRA Energy Efficiency Funding was granted," Ms. Collins said in response to an e-mail inquiry. "We successfully argued that Cos County is a functional government with responsibilities and jurisdiction capable of implementing the broad range of programs identified by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG).

"Cos County has 30 days from today — August 19 — in which to file an application for funding under the direct formula grant."

The county is eligible for $138,000.

"I am grateful to Senator Shaheen for her efforts on behalf of Cos County," Ms. Collins said. "Sen. Shaheen's staff member Mike Firestone was there for us every step of the way."

"Additional funding for N. H. counties to invest in energy efficiency and conservation efforts will create jobs, bring down energy costs, and help America become energy independent," Sen. Shaheen said in a press release. "I'm pleased that the Department of Energy and Secretary Steven Chu have allowed N.H. counties to apply for the additional funding they deserve, and I urge DOE to distribute the funds quickly so that they can be put to use before the winter."

When ARRA became law, DOE issued an erroneous ruling that New Hampshire counties were not eligible for this funding because they have "relatively few responsibilities."

Sen. Shaheen wrote to Energy Secretary Chu on April 17, protesting this decision and asked that it be reversed.

In June, thanks to her efforts, DOE announced a formal process through which Granite State counties could appeal the ruling.

Sen. Shaheen announced on Wednesday that Cos and the state's other nine counties had won their appeal.

County Commissioner Tom Brady of Jefferson praised the efforts of both Senator Shaheen and her staffer Mike Firestone, as well as the initiative of county administrator Sue Collins.

"This is great news," commissioner Brady said in a telephone interview. "Although $138,000 may not seem like a lot of money, it will be of tremendous benefit to county taxpayers. They will benefit because of the jobs created when replacing windows at our two nursing homes or in going forward with other energy-saving improvements. Cos will also be able to reduce the amount of oil and/or propane that is consumed in county facilities, making us all less dependent on imported fuels. And every year hard-pressed Cos County taxpayers will spend fewer tax dollars to maintain our elderly residents in nursing homes or to provide other vital services. Truly winning this appeal is a 'win-win-win' for Cos in every way."

Ms. Collins said that all 10 county administrators in New Hampshire had initiated appeals at about the same time.

She also credited Betsy Miller, executive director of the NH Association of Counties for providing assistance with some of the appeal language.

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