Energy Block Grant Update

My consistent one or two readers have recently commented on how my entries have slacked considerably during the month of February. After an in-depth analysis of past posts it really leads to only one explanation: I canceled my cable in late January.

That's right. My readers have always mentioned that my best posts included sports updates. Now I've always chosen to believe that it's the mood I'm in while watching sports that leads to a good post and not the fact that they're really just interested in updated scores, but who's to say really.

Since canceling cable I no longer have access to ESPN so I've been watching a lot less TV and therefore have posted much less as well. With the Olympics on this week I stand ready to get back in the groove. C'mon, that was a little funny, right?

ANYWAY, there's still a lot happening at the City of Fayetteville including some great projects through the Energy Block Grant.

GHG Inventory - The first grant money allocated was $4,000 to the University of Arkansas' College of Business for MBA student, Danny Franklin, to develop the City's greenhouse gas emissions inventory according to the recently released Government Operations Protocol. The GHG inventory will help City officials better understand where our energy dollars are being used and where to target energy efficiency projects. With so much talk about carbon trading, this protocol will also put the City in good position if/when we are eligible to trade credits as well.

Light Emitting Diodes - The next two projects pertain to LED lights on Scull Creek Trail. We inked a deal with King Electric to install 21 LED lights in Scull Creek tunnels for a little over $19,000. These LEDs will actually provide more light in the tunnels while reducing energy consumption by almost 60 percent AND lasting at least five times longer.

The second project is 32 LEDs on the section of Scull Creek between Maple Ave and North Street. This section of trail is currently unlit so this will be a much needed improvement.  The bids will open on March 5th for these lights. Currently several samples are being tested by our Transportation Department to determine their reliability under various conditions. We expect similar savings and life as compared to the tunnel lights being installed.

Future LED projects will include a section of Frisco Trail between Spring Street and Maple Avenue and the Block Avenue street project currently under design. If enough funding remains we will likely retrofit the Walton Arts Center parking lot with shoebox LEDs.

District Court Solar Panels - Yesterday I sent a purchase order to BP Solar in Maryland for 40 BP170 panels to install on the District Court Building. BP Solar is about to open an office in Northwest Arkansas and the City, along with the Fayetteville Public Library and the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, has been able to take advantage of the situation to get good deals on panels for our three renewable energy projects. The 40 panels cost a little over $16,000 including tax & freight and will provide 6.8 kW of energy; enough to power two average American homes. Currently, I'm waiting on quotes from local firms for the installation of the panels.

Municipal Energy Fund - The next project is hiring an architecture and engineering firm to perform energy audits on City facilities and assist in implementation. In January we issued a request for qualifications and received nine statements from firms all over the country including four local firms. On Monday a review panel made up of one council member and five City staff will review the firms and most likely short-list for interviews or potentially select the winning firm.

The project will mostly be made up of lighting, heating and air conditioning, and weatherization improvements, but it would be nice to push the envelope a bit as well. We'll see what comes out of our discussion on Monday.

Community Energy Fund - Finally, we've been chasing down language in Title 14 of the Arkansas Code to determine if enabling legislation exists to allow us to do what is called a PACE program or property assessed clean energy projects. This is a whole blog post in and of itself, but essentially it would allow us to access much more funding to provide energy retrofits for homes and businesses in Fayetteville.

If this doesn't come to fruition, we will push forward with the previous plan which was creating a small revolving loan fund for non-profits in Fayetteville.

For transparency's sake I will continue to provide updates on how we are spending our Energy Block Grant funding from the US Department of Energy. Future posts will also include the signed documents from companies we are contracting with to show the exact transactions that are taking place.

And Bode Miller just took the silver medal in the Super G! The end.

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