Champaign applies for energy grant

With energy efficiency on the rise, a committee requested the Champaign City Council’s approval in applying for an energy grant from the federal government.

The committee will submit an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant application by Thursday. The city has access to $763,200 from the federal government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The specific sectors that would receive funding was open ended, said Teri Legner, Economic Development Manager.

“The application was wide open for the most part,” she said.

The committee suggested that the funds be directed towards city buildings, the police department and the fire department. The group also received input from the University’s College of Architecture Smart Energy Design Assistance Center.

“They helped us kind of pare down where we need things and where they’re voids in our community in particular,” Legner said.

Smart Energy suggested that a portion of the funding be directed towards non-profit organizations. In the four years the organization has been operating, they have performed over 400 energy audits in Illinois, said Ben Sliwinski, technical director of Smart Energy.

“One area where we have not been able to serve the public is the nonprofit sector,” Sliwinski said.

Other funding will still be directed towards public buildings, Legner said.

“We’ve got some building projects of our own and we’ve got some great ideas for own non-profits,” she added.

The city council expressed its interest in the grant, but also noted that they would like a grant with specific emphasis on new technology.

“We have the University of Illinois here and it seems like the perfect opportunity to try new things in our community,” said Deborah Feinen, Champaign City Council member.