ID potatoJob stimulus dollars going to Idaho mean a more than 1000 percent increase—yep, three zeroes there—in money available for programs to test solar power at schools, make public buildings more energy efficient, and help establish an LED (light emitting diode) manufacturing company.

The US Department of Energy is parceling out $38.7 billion in stimulus money nationwide, and the largest piece of it—$16.8 billion—will encourage job creation through work that saves energy and invests in renewable power (see an earlier Sightline Daily post on Washington’s slice of this pie). The money was approved by US lawmakers in February in the federal stimulus plan.

Idaho, pop. 1.5 million, is expecting nearly $75.9 million from DOE for energy-related investments. Here’s how the money is being divvied up: 

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  • Paul Kjellander, administrator for Idaho’s Office of Energy Resources, said his budget is going from about $2.5 million to about $38 million. Projects he’s involved with are the State Energy Program and part of the block grant program.

    The State Energy Program money is divided into three main projects. The first is to do energy audits at public schools to look for waste and then make improvements that will likely include more efficient lighting and installing better windows. The second is to do solar-power pilot projects at five to 10 schools, including setting up net metering that allows the schools to sell extra power back to the electrical utility.

    They’ll be looking for projects that should pay for themselves in three to seven years with the money that’s saved through increased efficiency, said Kjellander.

    “Every dollar of energy efficiency we get will have an ongoing benefit for taxpayers,” he said.

    The third State Energy Program project is helping establish an LED manufacturing facility in Idaho.

    The biggest chunk of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program money is going to be available for competitive grants for cities and counties for energy efficiency and renewable power projects.

    You can find out more about the weatherization work in Idaho in this blog post by my colleague Roger Valdez, who explains that the $30 million in stimulus about doubles the money available in that program.

    Big spud photo courtesy of Flickr user ronsipherd under the Creative Commons license.