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Conservation Corner - A New Year’s Resolution:

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Increasing Energy Efficiency and Conservation

By Eileen Bowers Special to the Beacon

Thanks to the combined efforts of Greg Lang, Dale Register, Lauren Clark and our city commissioners, this New Year’s resolution will become a reality as the City of Cedar Key was recently awarded a $300,000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant that includes $50,000 in matching funds from the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded this grant.

 

On Feb. 13, 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It was the Recovery Act’s targets of infrastructure enhancement, investment in domestic renewable energy and energy con- servation that prompted the city to apply for grant funding. While many of the Recovery Act projects are focused more immediately on jumpstarting the economy, others, especially those involving infrastructure improvements, are expected to contribute to economic growth for many years.

 

Specifically, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant is designed to:

• Reduce fossils fuel emissions and total energy usage

• Improve energy efficiency in transportation, buildings and other appropriate sectors

• Create and retain American jobs

• Empower communities to make strategic investments to meet the nation’s long-term clean energy and climate goals

 

The City of Cedar Key was awarded this grant as the following energy efficiency and conservation needs and assessments were presented in their application:

• Energy retrofit upgrades such as improved lighting, insulation, insulated windows, a high efficiency HVAC system and programmable HVAC controls for city buildings

• Low interest loans for local small businesses wishing to make energy efficiency improvements

• Bikes for city police and other employees

• 5,000 watt solar photovoltaic systems for city hall and the community center

• Educational outreach

 

It is worth mentioning that even though the application initially requested 5,000 watt solar systems for both city hall and the community center, the city was able to take advantage of both price reductions of materials and fierce bidding to gain 4,928 watts for city hall and 9,408 watts for the community center. That’s an additional 14,336 watts added to the already existing 5,040-watt system on the community center.

 

A special thank you to Lang for recognizing this opportunity to re-bid the solar contracts and maximize the city’s energy savings. This grant opportunity will benefit the city by reducing energy usage through improved energy efficiency and, hence, reduce operating costs of key city facilities.

 

By being given the opportunity to make energy efficiency investments in their business operations, small business will reap short and long term benefits of reduced energy costs. All of these energy efficiency upgrades will require skilled labor, creat- ing or retaining jobs and, hopefully, stimulating our local economy.

 

The work that will be accomplished with this grant will allow the city to make great strides in their ongoing goals of conservation, preservation and sustainability. This opportunity has allowed the leveraging of CRA funds to accomplish a relatively large amount of work as well as long-term benefits.

 

Happy New Year to the City of Cedar Key! May this grant be the first of many accomplishments towards your new year’s resolution.

This column is a project of Cedar Keys' Energy Advisory Panel, which welcomes first-person accounts of how individuals are conserving (or, even, aspiring to conserve) our community's natural resources. Your submission may be made via email at eileenlbowers@yahoo.com. Please include your full name and phone number.