The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday more than $162 million in funding to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in six states -- Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania -- and Puerto Rico, the latest allocation of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies," said DOE Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. Chu also said that the funds will provide a boost to state economies, help to put Americans back to work, and move the U.S. toward energy independence.

Under DOE's State Energy Program, states and territories have proposed statewide plans that prioritize energy savings, create or retain jobs, increase the use of renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The six states and Puerto Rico are receiving 40% of their total program dollars authorized under the act; they initially got 10% to support planning activities. The remaining 50% will be released once the states meet reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones.

The Recovery Act appropriated $3.1 billion to the State Energy Program to help promote energy efficiency and clean energy deployment, as well as to support local economic recovery. States are required to use the grants to create green jobs and address state energy priorities.

Activities eligible for program funding include energy audits, building retrofits, education and training efforts, transportation programs to increase the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and new financing to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.

The six states and the territory are receiving the following awards: Colorado, $19.69 million; Delaware, $9.69 million; Indiana, $27.45 million; Louisiana, $28.68 million; Massachusetts, $29.96 million; Pennsylvania, $39.87 million; and Puerto Rico, $14.83 million.

Most of the money will go for commercial and industrial projects. But in Louisiana, the program also will provide incentives to home builders to encourage the construction of energy-efficiency homes and will provide support for homeowners to improve the efficiency of existing houses.

Furthermore, Louisiana will promote the purchase of Energy Star-rated appliances through participating utility companies that will provide coupons to purchase qualifying appliances.

Jean Dimeo is Chief Editor, Online for EcoHome.