FREEPORT — On the heels of receiving a $44,000 energy grant to install solar panels on the library, the Town Council Tuesday night voted 6-0 to approve another application for an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.
This grant from the Public Utility Commission’s Efficiency Maine program would be for about $81,000 and would be applied to energy improvements in several buildings and areas throughout the town.
Town Planner Donna Larson said a local match will come from about $18,000 in reserve funds and in-kind work worth about $6,000.
According to the grant application, an energy audit conducted in July identified a need for insulation in the basement and attic of the town offices, which would produce a 44 percent savings in energy. A new, on-demand hot water heater could cut electricity consumption by 20 percent. Replacing the window treatments could save 20 percent of electricity costs and lighting upgrades could save 60 percent.
The grant would also pay for improvement to the public works and public safety buildings. Installing fans in the public works building and the garage at public safety would force warm air down from the high ceilings and reduce the use of propane and oil fuel.
Solar panels could be installed at the Winslow Park shower house to generate heat for the hot water heater. A closed-loop antifreeze solar hot water system could provide about 40 percent of the BTUs in one camping season.
Putting street lights and the parking lot lights at Howard Place on timers would also save a significant amount, Larson said.
“This grant will speed up our conservation efforts by several years,” she said. “We’ve already spent a lot of money on conservation efforts, and cannot keep it up. This grant will make a big difference to the town.”
There is also a public participation and education project portion of the grant that will allow residents to learn about conservation within their households. An interactive Web site would be created so residents can register, find ways to conserve and learn about services that will help them reduce their energy consumption. As an incentive, up to 30 households will be eligible to receive free energy audits.
Larson said in October the Town Council made a commitment to allocate 50 percent of all dollars saved as a result of energy conservation to an energy fund. The Energy Conservation and Renewable Resources Reserve Fund will be used for future energy savings projects.
Larson said she expects many proposals will be submitted for the block grants and said it may take a few months to hear back from the commission.