Communities Continue Pushing Energy Efficiency

Municipalities increasingly are driving down the use of electricity wherever possible.

Some of the communities are small. For instance, the city of Mt. Lake, MN, is considering energy efficiency steps that would lead to significant savings. The projects would demand cash outlays that also are significant, however, according to The Mountain Lake Observer.

Last March, the city partnered with McKinstry. The firm produced an investment grade audit of the heating and lighting assets of the city’s public facilities for the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC). Subsequently, the city’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Program approved a Joint Power Agreement with the state.

McKinstry’s final report was reviewed by the DOC and presented to the city council. Recommendations include installation of LED street lights and exterior and interior lighting replacements in some city buildings. The cost of the streetlight program would be $179,378, though the total would be reduced to $169,326 by rebates. Energy savings would be $13,472 and maintenance and operations savings would be $3,764.

The interior and exterior light program would cost $69,911. Rebates would reduce it to $65,307. Savings would be $2,652 and operational and operational and maintenance savings would be $385. The payback of the streetlight program would be 10 years and the interior/exterior lighting program12 years.

The council is considering funding mechanisms and voted to end its participation in GESP and work directly with McKinstry.

States are driving efficiency of their communities as well. For instance, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources this month accepted 30 cities and towns in its Green Communities program. The initiative provides grants to help the communities implement energy efficiency policies. The goal is to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent within five years of joining the program. The story at Wicked Local Newton says that the program has provided $65 million in grants for more than 550 lighting upgrades, 350 weatherization programs, 4,875 HVAC upgrades and other initiatives since it began in 2010.

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