In­dian Head to ap­ply for smart en­ergy grant

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

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.

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