Indian Head to apply for smart energy grant
Since becoming a sus- tainable community, the Town of Indian Head is moving toward accom- plishing many of its plans for revitalization and the town council now has its sights set on smart ener- gy taking the town to new levels.
The town council intends to apply for the Maryland Energy Administration’s Maryland Smart Energy Communities (MSEC) program for fiscal year 2017. Town Manager Ryan Hicks and the town staff have already looked over the grant and are pre- pared to ask for some of the town’s essential energy requirements that should be funded at this time.
“We don’t necessarily have to do only one of the smart energy options,” Hicks said at the council’s work session Wednesday. “We can request a grant for multiple projects — street- lights, lighting in our facili- ties, solar panels, or reduce petroleum consumption in our vehicles.”
According to the MEA, the grant program has $1.6 million to be divided between new and exist- ing MSEC communities, with $725K for eligible energy efficiency initia- tives and $855K for eligi- ble renewable energy and transportation projects. The funding distributed to Maryland Smart Energy Communities will be used for energy efficiency, re- newable energy and trans- portation projects.
Becoming a Smart Ener- gy Community will result in a grant from MEA to kick-start the town’s en- ergy goals and eligibility for future MSEC grants; reduced utility and fuel expenses; support of local sustainability initiatives; greenhouse gas emis- sion reductions; statewide recognition as a leader in energy and sustainability; technical assistance from the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center; and achieving long-term energy goals.
“I like the idea of the re- newable energy policy,” Mayor Brandon Paulin said. “I think that would best fit. We were talking about solar energy to be- gin with, and putting so- lar panels on some of our town’s buildings. I think that would meet some of our renewable energy standards. I think going the solar panel route with some of the top facilities is the best way to start.”
“I would like to advocate for the town’s vehicle fleet because our fleet is aging and if we can take some of that funding and put it toward buying more energy efficient vehicles, I think we need to try to do that,” Councilman Curtis Smith said. “I like the idea of distributing the funding across multiple activities.”
Vice-mayor Ron Sitoula asked for Hicks’ recommendations on the matter based on his experience. He asked Hicks about the town’s most significant needs that would be specifically aligned with energy savings.
“In regards to items that have the most effective value, I would like the funding to be available to start with the solar panels or street lighting,” Sitoula said. “Even if we don’t finish it, if we start it and get minimal lighting now then we have an incentive to ask for additional funding down the road for the town to build upon. I also think [Hicks]
would recommend what would be the most valuable to the town.”
A big concern for Hicks is that quite a few of the town’s vehicles are more than 20 years old and have aged out.
“We have an aging fleet of vehicles that we are going to have to look at come budget time,” Hicks said. “I still think this is a mul- tiphase approach where we can ask for all of three: something to address our vehicle fleet, solar panels in some of public works facilities and water treatment plant, and look into solar street lighting.”
The town council is still finalizing the potential projects with MEA.