U.S. Department of Energy Announces Funding Opportunity Awards (FOA) for State & Local Governments to Advance Clean Energy Technologies and Solutions

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a wide range of funding opportunities available to state and local governments aimed at incentivizing smart manufacturing technologies, improve energy efficiency, workforce development and other strategies to support clean energy goals. See below for several funding opportunities which may be of interest to western leaders, including those pertaining to tribal lands, agricultural sector, and remote or rural areas.

State Manufacturing Leadership Program: Provides up to $50 million to work with States to accelerate use of smart manufacturing technologies and practices and access to tools and assistance. Available until expended.

Large Wind Turbine Materials and Manufacturing:  Issued to further develop broad, foundational, manufacturing “platform” technologies and address gaps and barriers that are currently limiting use of composite materials in clean energy and decarbonization-related applications with wind energy applications as the primary focus. Deadline: May 9.

Reducing Agricultural Carbon Intensity and Protecting Algal Crops (RACIPAC): Develops science-based strategies and technologies to cost-effectively transform renewable carbon resources such as agricultural waste and algae into high-quality, environmentally sustainable, conversion-ready feedstocks for biofuels and bioproducts. Deadline: May 16.

Clean Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands: The DOE Office of Indian Energy is soliciting applications from Indian Tribes, which include Alaska Native Regional Corporations and Village Corporations, Intertribal Organizations, and Tribal Energy Development Organizations to: (1) Install clean energy generating system(s) and energy efficiency measure(s) for Tribal Building(s); or, (2) Deploy community-scale clean energy generating system(s) or energy storage on Tribal Lands; or, (3) Install integrated energy system(s) for autonomous operation (independent of the traditional centralized electric power grid) to power a single or multiple Essential Tribal Buildings during emergency situations or for tribal community resilience; or, (4) Provide electric power to unelectrified tribal buildings. Deadline: May 16.

Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program: Provides $2.5 billion to develop six carbon capture facilities to significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, costs, emissions reductions, and environmental performance of coal and natural gas use. Deadline: May 23.

Energizing Rural Communities Prize: $15 million prize for entrepreneurs, university faculty and student groups, community organizations, tribal and local governments, financial institutions, industry professionals, and others with ideas to help organize or finance a clean energy demonstration project in a rural or remote area. Deadline: May 24 (Phase I applications)

Civil Nuclear Credit Program (CNC) Application Guidance: The second award cycle for the Civil Nuclear Credit program is open to owners or operators of nuclear reactors that are at risk of closure by the end of the four-year award period, including such reactors that ceased operations after November 15, 2021. Deadline: May 31.

Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grants:  This first FOA will provide approximately $350 million in awards to small- and medium-sized manufacturers in energy communities to 1) establish new facilities or 2) re-equip or expand existing facilities for the manufacturing or recycling of advanced energy property. Awards will focus on projects with high supply chain impacts and strong community benefits plans. Deadline: June 8.

EERE BETO FY23 Conversion Research and Development Funding Opportunity Announcement: Supports developing technologies to enable the conversion of waste and renewable resources to fuels and products with substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions compared to the petroleum incumbent. Deadline: June 16

Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilots: Designed to establish a carbon capture technology program for the development of transformational technologies that will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, costs, emissions reductions, and environmental performance of coal and natural gas use, including in manufacturing and industrial facilities. Deadline: June 21.

Energy Improvements in Rural and Remote Areas (ERA): The Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program seeks to improve the resilience, reliability, and affordability of energy systems in communities across the country with 10,000 or fewer people. Deadline: June 28 

Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis, Manufacturing, and Recycling:  Provides up to $750 million in Federal funding to support the broader government-wide approach to accelerate progress in clean hydrogen technologies and maximize the benefits of the clean energy transition. Deadline: July 19.

Industrial Demonstrations Program: Funds projects that focus on the highest emitting and hardest to abate industries where decarbonization technologies can have the greatest impact. Deadline: August 4.

Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship: A unique workforce development program that matches recent graduates and new energy professionals to key energy organizations to support efforts to advance clean energy solutions. Fellows will gain career experience with critical regional, state, utility, and tribal energy organizations.  

EECBG Formula Program Funding Opportunity: The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program Formula Grant Application is now open to apply for $430 million in clean energy and energy efficiency funding. Read more about eligibility lists for states, local governments, and tribes.  

IRA Funded Technical Assistance for Building Energy Codes: DOE’s Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP) has announced its intent to make $1 billion in funding available to states and local governments for improved building codes that reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency through the IRA Funded Technical Assistance for the Adoption of Building Energy Codes. This technical assistance opportunity will make two types of Building Code Technical Assistance available:   

  1. $317 million will be available to adopt the latest building energy code, or other codes and standards that achieve equivalent or greater energy savings.
  2. $633 million will be used to adopt a building energy code that meets or exceeds the zero energy provisions in the 2021 IECC code, or other codes and standards with equivalent or greater energy savings.

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Vermont’s Voter Portal

If there is one constant in election administration, it’s change.

Election officials are constantly innovating to meet the evolving needs of voters. Voter portals, “one-stop self-service” sites, enable voter access to individualized voting materials.

Vermont’s election portal, called My Voter Page or MVP for short, provides a web-based data search interface of information extracted from Vermont’s statewide voter registration database. MVP provides a web-based data search interface of information extracted from Vermont’s statewide voter registration database.[2]

MVP was first introduced to Vermont’s voters for use in the Nov. 8, 2016 election by Jim Condos, former Vermont Secretary of State.

In early 2015, the Vermont Secretary of State’s office initiated an 18-month development and implementation plan for the voter portal as part of a larger Election Management System solution. Election management and portal development began after a competitive procurement process resulting in the selection of a PCC Technology Group, LLC, now known as Civix, the state’s collaborator.

Elections in Vermont are conducted at the township level by 247 town clerks. According to Will Senning, Vermont Director of Elections, building an election management system stemmed from a desire to include an individualized hub for a voter’s information and allow each voter to interact electronically with their specific clerk. The portal allows voters to view their sample ballot, respond to a National Voter Registration Act notice, request an absentee ballot, check that the request was received and view the absentee ballot issue date and the date the clerk received the ballot.

From the outset, Vermont’s MVP allowed all Vermont residents to electronically register to vote, take the voter oath, review or respond to any voter challenge letters, find their elected officials and check their:

Voter registration status

Absentee ballot status.

Mail-in application and ballot status.

Poll location.

Registration information on file with the town office.

Sample ballot for the upcoming election.

Portal Use for Vermont’s Military & Overseas Voters

This includes all Vermont military and overseas citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). On Aug. 29, 2016, Condos told Vermont Business Magazine,  

“Voting for our military and overseas voters is now easier than ever. It is my pleasure to present this information [about MVP] to help these Vermonters register and vote.”

Through MVP, Vermont’s military personnel and overseas citizens can easily participate in the election process by registering to vote and requesting a blank ballot online. In Vermont, voters covered by UOCAVA must return their ballots by mail. However, they may request their ballot by phone, fax, email or mail. They may also request that their unvoted blank ballot and certificate for the return envelope be delivered to them electronically via MVP. Voters who request delivery of a blank ballot through MVP receive an email generated by the system stating their ballot is available and providing them with a login. The voter can access the ballot through MVP and either mark the ballot through onscreen marking before printing, or hand mark the ballot and then return it by mail. Per UOCAVA, any ballot requested more than 45 days before the election will be mailed on the 45th day before the election. This means that if the blank ballot is sent electronically the voter would receive it immediately, allowing them more time to return their completed ballot.

Accessible Voting and Vermont’s Portal

According to Vermont’s Election Division website, “Vermont’s election laws are designed to make it easy for all eligible Vermonters to vote and to register to vote. One of the specific purposes of the Vermont Election Laws is ‘to provide equal opportunity for all citizens of voting age to participate in political processes.’”

In 2018, after a competitive procurement process, a new accessible voting solution was introduced by the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. This solution – OmniBallot – is a tablet-based ballot marking system that marks the voter’s selections onto paper ballots, increasing the privacy and independence of a voter with disabilities. OmniBallot also contains an online interface that enables citizens with disabilities to vote from home during the early voting period.

Post-Pandemic Voting by Mail and the Portal

After experimenting with vote-by-mail procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vermont joined California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington to become one of eight states that now conduct elections almost entirely by mail.

As a result of a 2021 Vermont law, all active registered voters in Vermont are now mailed a ballot for each general election, unless they have requested that their ballot be electronically delivered via their MVP. All Vermont voters are able to cast an absentee ballot if they so choose. Vermont voters can return their ballots via mail, in-person at their town or city clerk’s office, via secure ballot drop box before Election Day or at their polling place on Election Day.

Vermont’s My Voter Portal conveniently and securely facilitates voter registration, viewing of a sample ballot, electronic ballot delivery, ballot tracking and more. It is a valuable tool supporting Vermont’s new vote-by-mail process and for the state and local election officials who serve voters – including military and overseas Vermonters worldwide, and voters with accessibility challenges .

[2]  MVP is not the official record of a voter’s registration. Voter registration records are retained by each person’s voter registration office in the specific Vermont town where they reside at https://mvp.vermont.gov/.

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Associates in Action: NASPO Launches Program Supporting Member Certification

By Julie Stahl

The National Association of State Procurement Officials launched a new reimbursement program for public procurement professionals in March as part of its celebration of National Procurement Month. NASPO is a CSG Associate and nonprofit association committed to supporting public procurement leaders and promoting government excellence by delivering superior procurement solutions for public benefit.

The new NASPO program offers full reimbursement of the application and examination fees for qualified candidates in 2023 who pass the certification exams offered by the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council, or UPPCC. The UPPCC is an independent organization formed to govern and administer the Certified Public Procurement Officer and Certified Professional Public Buyer certification programs.

“Now is a great time for CSG members to encourage their procurement personnel to consider certification,” said David Gragan, NASPO chief administrative and strategic operations officer. “Those who pass the public procurement certification exams offered by the UPPCC can receive 100% reimbursement provided by the National Association of State Procurement Officials. This is another example of how NASPO strives daily to elevate the public procurement profession.”

The Certified Public Procurement Officer exam focuses on the six UPPCC Body of Knowledge and Competency domain areas: legal framework, procurement planning and analysis, sourcing and solicitation, contract development and management, leadership and business principles. The Certified Professional Public Buyer exam tests practice-level knowledge of the domain areas required for proficiency. The UPPCC Body of Knowledge and Competency domain areas for both exams can be found here.

NASPO provides its membership with highly beneficial programs, research, publications, innovative procurement strategies and professional development opportunities. Procurement professionals seek to serve as champions of the populace’s interests and demonstrate dedication to ethical best practices. NASPO continues to promote their mission and values by curating beneficial programs elevating the public procurement profession. For further information about UPPCC and procurement certifications, please visit uppcc.org.

Nongovernment Entities’ Inclusion in Public Records Law

By Valerie Newberg

Public records law, which is also recognized in select states as the Freedom of Information Act/Law, Sunshine Law, Right to Know Law or Open Records Law, is a tool intended to ensure government transparency and accountability by mandating the storage and release of documents to members of the public.

There are wide variations in each state’s version of the law. In certain states, agencies are required to respond within a timeframe ranging from three days to 12 weeks, while others designate maximum fees agencies may charge for the reproduction and transfer of records. Additionally, select states apply fees or criminal penalties to government agents who fail to comply with records requests. Some data is typically exempt from public records requests, including information that would constitute an invasion of privacy for institutions like hospitals, law enforcement agencies and schools, trade secrets, building maps, emergency procedures and firearms records.

Most laws are broadly inclusive of the state agencies subject to public records requests, with at least 19 states also setting statutory guidelines that explicitly require the category of quasi-governmental bodies, government sponsored entities and quasi nongovernmental agencies to comply with public records requests. For at least 12 states, court rulings have set criteria for nongovernmental bodies required to provide requested records. These bodies are typically defined as private entities including nonprofits, for-profits, tax districts and privatized government agencies that are partially supported by tax funding, use state resources, or perform some duties of the state. For example, Texas law defines governmental bodies as including nonprofit corporations that provide water and wastewater services, thus serving a public function.

Inclusion of Nongovernmental Bodies via Statute
Nineteen state statutes reference the participation of nongovernmental bodies in open records requests, while also providing financial or functional criteria for their inclusion. These states include:

  • California.
  • Delaware.
  • Georgia.
  • Indiana.
  • Iowa.
  • Kansas.
  • Kentucky.
  • Louisiana.
  • Michigan.
  • Missouri.
  • Nebraska.
  • North Dakota.
  • Oklahoma.
  • Rhode Island.
  • South Carolina.
  • Texas.
  • Utah.
  • Virginia.
  • Wisconsin.

Financial standards for inclusion range from receipt of any government funding, like in North Dakota, to receipt of 33 ⅓% of its general operating budget from public funding, like in Georgia.

Functional guidelines are used in some states to determine a state’s inclusion; Missouri’s Sunshine Law states that a public body is one that performs a governmental function or enters into contracts with the government. States like Delaware combine these criteria, defining applicable nongovernmental entities as those who receive or disperse public funding, or who advise and contract with official government agencies.

Additionally, while Idaho does not explicitly include nongovernmental bodies in its statute, the state prohibits agencies from entering into contracts with them to avoid open records requests.

Inclusion of Nongovernmental Bodies via the Courts
In many states where public body or public entity is vaguely defined in the statute and may not explicitly include private organizations, the judiciary has settled disputes over the inclusion of these terms. In such legal decisions, judges typically apply a test consisting of between four and nine parts that set criteria for the entities’ definition as a public body. These tests were first employed by federal courts in clarifying application of the Federal Freedom of Information Act to nongovernmental entities but have since served as guidance for interpretation in state courts.

Connecticut, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington use a four-part test defining nongovernmental agencies according to: (1) whether the entity performs a governmental function; (2) the level of governmental funding; (3) the extent of governmental involvement or regulation; and (4) whether the entity was created by the government.

West Virginia uses a five-part test that considers the composition of the entity’s governing board and if the entity operates statewide. Oregon uses a six-part test that also includes the ability of the entity to make binding government decisions, and the status of the entity’s employees as government or nongovernment employed. Colorado, Florida and New Mexico apply a slightly different nine-part test that also considers whether the entity mixes funds with the government through use of the state treasury, if the entity conducts business on publicly owned property, and whether the government has “substantial financial interest” in the entity.

Other state courts, like those of Arkansas, apply a simpler test permitting private agencies receiving public funds to be subject to open records requests. In Pennsylvania, any nongovernmental body performing government business or nonprofit renting public property for more than $1.5 million per year is required to abide by open records laws.

However, there remain states without guidance from judicial or legislative bodies on the inclusion of nongovernmental entities. In states like Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada and South Dakota, the law does not specify a state’s inclusion and no court cases requiring private bodies to submit to records requests could be found. In Illinois, courts ruled that the receipt of public funding is insufficient in deeming a body public for the purpose of their law, and that the government must play a more active role in the decision-making and day-to-day operations of a company.

Participation of nongovernment entities in public records requests is only becoming more relevant as states look to privatize certain programs and agencies to decrease operating costs and risks. By setting clear statutory guidelines for inclusion and remaining informed on the issue, policymakers can anticipate how changes to the operation of their state will impact the distribution of information to taxpayers.

On the Road with CSG West: Hawaii

Last month, CSG West staff Edgar Ruiz and Will Keyse felt the Aloha spirit during the annual state visit to the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu. Many thanks to Senate Majority Leader Dru Kanuha and his wonderful staff for hosting us during the visit. We were able to connect with many members and staff to provide information on CSG West programs and services for the year, as well as learn of pertinent challenges facing the state.

A highlight of the visit included a breakfast gathering for alumni of the Western Legislative Academy (WLA) and members eligible for this year’s WLA. We thank the 45 members that came to join us and celebrate regional professional development. Mahalo to Sen. Chris Lee for the breakfast introduction, and to Senate Majority Leader Kanuha and Representative Troy Hashimoto for the introductions on the Senate and House floors, respectively.

CSG West staff with House Committee on Housing Chair, Representative Troy Hashimoto

In addition to conversations with the leadership teams of Senate President Ronald Kouchi and Speaker Scott Saiki, CSG West staff were grateful to connect with Housing Committee Chairs Rep. Troy Hashimoto and Sen. Stanley Chang and thank them for their initiative in gathering Western housing committee chairs.

CSG West Staff with Senate Committee on Housing Chair, Senator Stanley Chang

We appreciated the insight from each of the Hawaiian members on issues facing the legislature in Oahu and the neighbor islands, and look forward to seeing many of you this summer at the 76th CSG West Annual Meeting in Los Angeles in August.

CSG West staff with Representative Della Au Belatti, who served as CSG West’s House liaison for the 2021-2022 biennium

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