Friday, February 26, 2010

Counties, cities win $700k energy grant

Rebate program will help homeowners with energy upgrades

Express Staff Writer

A group of regional cities and counties collaborated to win a $700,000 grant from the Idaho Office of Energy Resources to improve energy efficiency.

Blaine County, the sponsor and administrator of the grant, along with Hailey, Bellevue, Sun Valley, Ketchum, Fairfield and Camas County, were awarded the Environmental Efficiency Conservation Block Grant on Tuesday.

County Commissioner Angenie McCleary said the county and the state agency still have to sign the grant contract and that it would likely take a couple of months for the money to change hands.

Once it does, the funds will be used in part by the counties and cities to audit government buildings for energy efficiency and implement retrofits as necessary.

Blaine County Planner Shana Sweitzer, a driving force behind the grant application, stated in a press release that the grant money would also be used to convert all traffic lights in Blaine County to LED lights, improve energy efficiency outreach and education, and create a regional energy efficiency and conservation strategy.

As well, the grant will provide the cities and counties with funds to create a community rebate program that will help residents pay for energy audits and undertake basic energy improvements.

McCleary said each of the entities participating in the grant program would receive about $50,000 for the municipal building retrofits.


"The exciting part is that we were rewarded for partnering together," she said.

McCleary said that by combining, the group of seven greatly improved its chance of being awarded the grant.

Sweitzer said the partners expect to begin the audit, retrofits and community rebate program by this summer.

The rebate program will provide rebates for insulation, lighting, shower and faucet upgrades, weather sealing, energy-efficient and solar-powered appliances, and replacement of windows and doors.

The rebate cannot be used for the cost of labor to implement the improvements.

To be eligible for the program, homeowners must conduct a certified energy audit prior to installing improvements. The grant partners will cover 30 percent of the materials and 50 percent of the audit up to a total of $2,000.

Jon Duval:

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