In order to improve the energy planning capabilities of local governments, the commissioner shall make grants to counties and cities, however organized. The commissioner when making grants shall give priority to those units of government that submit proposals that could result in significant savings of traditional energy sources, development of renewable energy systems, and broad community involvement. The commissioner shall give priority to local units of government that provide staff or other support for a program and who request grants for programs which can be duplicated by other local governments. The grants may be used to purchase materials, employ staff or contract with other units of government or qualified consultants.
The commissioner shall not make grants of more than 45 percent of the amount appropriated for those purposes to cities and counties located within the seven-county metropolitan area. A single grant to a city or county shall not exceed $50,000.
Community energy planning grants may be used for the following purposes:
(1) to gather, monitor, and analyze local energy supply, demand, and cost information;
(2) to prepare comprehensive community energy plans;
(3) to implement comprehensive energy plans that the unit of government is authorized to undertake for the management of problems resulting from:
(i) rising energy cost;
(ii) lack of efficient public and private transportation;
(iii) lack of community conservation efforts;
(iv) lack of widespread renewable energy sources; and
(v) lack of energy components in comprehensive plans and local ordinances;
(4) to assist neighborhood organizations in counties and cities to do energy planning by making grants to the local unit of government; and
(5) any other purposes deemed appropriate by the commissioner.
The commissioner shall determine priorities pursuant to subdivisions 1 and 2, and shall promulgate rules for the submission and review of applications in accordance with the provisions of chapter 14.