VINELAND - New Jersey will collect $75.5 million in federal funds for energy efficiency improvements, more than $1 million of which will go to four towns in Atlantic and Cumberland counties.

Atlantic City, Vineland and Galloway Township will collect the federal funds through the federal economic recovery package for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Vineland was the big winner, collecting $568,900 in block grants, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who announced the funding Thursday. Atlantic City will collect $219,400, while Galloway Township will receive $143,900.

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The fourth recipient is listed as Egg Harbor at $168,500. Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi could not confirm whether it was Egg Harbor Townhip or Egg Harbor City that would receive the funding, but he believed it was the township.

Vineland will use the money to begin installing solar panels on city buildings, according to Joe Isabella, director of the Vineland Municipal Electric Utility. City officials plan to install solar arrays on about a dozen city buildings, the total cost of which is estimated to be more than $5 million.

"If we get $500,000, we'll use that for the first building," Isabella said.

Galloway officials will determine what to use the money for after completing an energy audit in late spring or early summer, according to Galloway Township Adminstrator Jill Gougher. Township leaders are considering solar array and wind turbine installations at the local landfill and other locations around town, Gougher wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

Most towns were surprised to hear of the funding. As with Vineland, some Atlantic City officials learned from a reporter that the funding was coming through. Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, said city officials were conducting an internal audit at no extra cost to determine where to spend the money.

Mohamadi said population size was one of the major criteria in determining who received funding. The money will be delivered in block grant format, as opposed to competitive grants, so the municipalities have some latitude on how to spend it.

He said Egg Harbor City was likely too small to gain the funding. Egg Harbor Township Mayor James "Sonny" McCullough, however, said he had heard nothing of the grants.

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