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Energy grant gives Hall $762K for efficiency
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Hall County may soon become a model for energy efficiency.

The county was selected to receive $762,600 from a 2009 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, a federal stimulus grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Hall County is developing an strategy to have county government conserve more energy and become more efficient with the energy it used.

Hall County Public Works Director Ken Rearden said the strategy must be created within 120 days and the projects must be complete within three years.

“It’s a quick turnaround,” Rearden said. “But we have some quick turnaround projects.”

Rearden said the grant could be used to implement a number of environmental programs. Though the strategy has not yet been created, Rearden thinks much of the funding will be used to retrofit county buildings with energy efficient lighting.

“Lighting is a big aspect in all of these buildings,” Rearden said. “There’s so much technology that’s come in with lighting and air conditioning.”

New fluorescent bulbs that utilize LED technology use only a quarter of the power traditional fluorescent do, Rearden said.

“We’re talking close to $100,000 a year in savings,” Rearden said.

Rearden said because the window of time to create and implement a strategy is so narrow, the county must show that they are dedicated to energy conservation.

“The county commission will have to adopt this energy strategy for the county for a five year planning period that we’re looking at to be able to expend these funds,” Rearden said. “I think there will be more grants coming too. If we have this strategy and we can prove that we’re implementing it, it betters our opportunity of getting more grant money.”

Another reason efficient lighting seems like a good fit is the work that has already been done by the county to look at energy costs.

“We had started with getting the power companies to do some energy audits on the buildings,” Rearden said. “This will be beneficial for us to have that in hand to get these projects under way quickly to spend this money.”

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