Grant to help city reduce energy costs

Published 1:40 am Friday, October 29, 2010

Contributing Editor

Washington has been awarded a $259,979 grant in an effort to reduce fuel costs, energy bills and create jobs.
Municipal governments, school districts and community colleges in North Carolina will receive a total of $4.5 million in Energy Efficient and Conservation Block Grants. The grants are part of a second round of funding to local agencies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Washington’s grant will be used to upgrade lighting at seven city-owned buildings and install direct gas-fired air-heating systems and ventilation timers at the Impressions Marketing Group building, which is owned by the city.
“The state’s Energy Office solicited proposals from local governments, public K-12 schools and community colleges for energy-efficient upgrade projects using commercially viable technologies that reduce energy consumption and reduce emissions,” said Bianca Gentile, Washington’s grants coordinator, in an interview Thursday. “This is a competitive grant opportunity. It is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
The city hopes to have the funding in hand soon, at least by the first of next year, she said.
The EECBG program is administered by the N.C. Energy Office, part of the N.C. Department of Commerce. The program encourages energy conservation and economic investment in counties, cities, towns, public schools and community colleges.
The state is targeting these four areas for use of the overall $20.9 million in grant funding from the EECBG program:
• Energy efficiency and renewable energy for buildings.
• Technical assistance.
• Energy conservation programs in transportation.
• Implementation of methane and greenhouse gas technologies.
Sixty percent of the $20.9 million will be distributed competitively in subgrants to “nonentitlement” (nondesignated) cities and counties through a competitive process for each of the four areas. Thirty-four percent will be distributed competitively to public school districts, community colleges and other local public authorities in the energy efficiency and renewable energy for buildings focus area. Six percent of the funds have been allocated for administrative expenses.
“It is estimated that the $20.9 million in grants will save or create at least 300 jobs while saving or generating more than 93.1 million Kilowatt Hour of power — enough power to serve the residential needs of a community of more than 31,000 for a year,” according to the state Energy Office’s website.
“In this tough economy, these grants will help local governments and schools across the state upgrade aging infrastructure — benefiting our communities into the future,” U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said in a news release. “I will continue working to secure federal dollars for important projects that reduce energy costs for North Carolinians and create jobs in our state.”