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2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grants

ARC received 43 applications from 12 states totaling more than $2.7 million in requests for the 2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grants Competition. Applications were received from non-profits, universities, LDDs, and municipal and state government. The proposed projects covered a range of activities including energy efficient buildings and LEED certification (8 applications), biofuels production and distribution (7 applications), biomass collection and heating systems (5), clean energy incubators and support for clean energy entrepreneurs (4), certification for solar energy installers (2), and installation of geothermal heat systems (2). Other projects included requests for landfill gas collection and distribution, LED traffic light installation, support for wind energy production, and education and training programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

A seven-member review committee met at ARC offices to rank and recommend proposals for Co-Chair funding consideration. The Co-Chair Committee approved funding for 12 of these proposals totaling $605,000, a larger pool then originally announced in the grant solicitation. Summaries of funded projects are below.

Business Technology Development Center (BizTech), Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Program.
It is anticipated that 5 new businesses will be formed as a result of this program, helping to create 30 new jobs and leveraging $5 million in new private investment. The grantee, in partnership with the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, will provide technical assistance services to clean and renewable energy businesses through the Tennessee Valley Renewable Energy Team. Clean energy seminars will be held throughout the target region to identify current and prospective operators of clean tech enterprises. Contacts from local economic development organizations will help identify prospective businesses, as will the US Department of Labor's WIRED program. Contractors with specialized expertise in clean and renewable energy will provide targeted technical assistance to individual enterprises, as will the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab.

Coosa Valley Regional Development Center, Northwest Georgia Clean Cities Coalition.
The grantee anticipates that 20 public and private fleet operators will participate in project activities and that 4 fleets will convert to biofuels use, resulting in the creation of 10 new jobs. In addition, 4 biofuels pumps are expected to be installed at high volume retail outlets, and regional biofuels use is anticipated to increase by 10 million gallons annually. The Grantee will initiate a Clean Cities Coalition program for the 15-county target region in Northwest Georgia to increase the production and use of biofuels in this region. The Coalition will undertake a range of activities to support these goals, including: provide leadership training for public and private stakeholders; organize six Chamber of Commerce sponsored forums; develop an information toolkit for biofuel conversion for public and private fleet managers; and develop a regional Clean Cities web site.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Energy Business Boot Camp.
Twelve new jobs are expected to be created as a result of these activities. The Grantee will develop an Energy Business Bootcamp, providing intensive performance-based entrepreneurial training and mentoring to growing firms. Two consecutive nine-month camps will be held, each for 4 businesses. The training will include class room sessions, coaching meetings, networking events, and a regional energy symposium. The grantee will partner with Tech2020 in Knoxville, TN to implement this program.

MACED, E2 Initiative
The grantee anticipates that 11 loans will be provided to emerging enterprises, and that 22 jobs will be created or retained. The grantee will provide a range of support activities to assist entrepreneurial enterprises in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The E2 Initiative will: 1) educate businesses about the benefits of energy efficiency improvements; 2) provide technical assistance services to businesses, including energy audits; and 3) provide loan capital to finance the creation of renewable energy enterprises. The grantee has targeted the formation of a targeted loan pool for energy related businesses, of which $250,000 has been committed. The E2 Initiative will also identify other opportunities for business financing, such as the USDA Section 9006 Renewable Energy loan and grant program.

Frostburg State University, Wind-Solar Energy (WISE) Certified Education Program.
The grantee anticipates that 24 students will complete this program, and local contractors and entrepreneurs will expand business opportunities for their enterprises, resulting in increased local employment. A certificate program on design, installation, and maintenance of solar and wind powered residential electric generation systems will be developed at Frostburg State University (FSU). As part of this program, workshops will be offered on wind generation and PV solar installation. The workshop will consist of 8-week interactive online instruction and 3-day conventional instruction at FSU, including hands-on training and lab work. Workshop participants will be prepared to take the certification test offered by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) for solar and wind installation. The program will also utilize the Wind-Solar Energy (WISE) system installed on the FSU campus.

Youth Blacksmith Program & Energy Efficiency Improvements.
Twenty-four students will be trained through this program and the Green Energy Park is anticipated to create 20 new jobs. The Green Energy Park Blacksmith Village will host a series of introductory blacksmith seminars, specifically targeting at-risk high school age youth. Six students will be selected for each series of 3-day classes, which will be held for four student groups during the grant period. Students will receive basic blacksmithing skills which will be valuable as they move towards a professional career in this artisan profession. The blacksmith forge will utilize a waste heat recovery system which includes heat exchangers, insulated storage tank, and PV powered pumps to capture the waste heat and store it as hot water. The adjacent biodiesel facility and greenhouse at the Green Energy Park will utilize this heat to supplement their processes. The blacksmith forges operate at over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Appalachian Center for Economic Networks for the Athens Public Market Pavilion.
The grantee anticipates that 20 new jobs will be created as a result of this project. The grantee will develop, on behalf of the City of Athens, a public market pavilion for area value-added agriculture entrepreneurs. Currently, 90 to 100 vendors use an existing facility for the local farmers market. The grantee will develop a new 'green' facility to accommodate additional vendors. The facility will feature energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, which will support the vision for locally produced and processed agriculture products.

St. Francis University, Geothermal Heating & Cooling System
When completed, the University will create an estimated 15 jobs. The grantee will install and deploy a geothermal heat pump in the new DiSepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness, a 30,000 sq ft LEED certified energy efficient facility. This system will provide a projected 30% increase in energy efficiency over the University's predominant heating method. The system will also supplement the University's renewable energy and environmental engineering curricula by offering students technical and applied experience with geothermal technology, and clients of the University's Renewable Energy Center will use the facility for site visits. On-site tours with the Laurel Highland Green Building Alliance will also be provided to discuss the benefits of geothermal and green construction.

SEDA-Council of Governments, LED Traffic Light Conversion Project.
Sixty-five municipalities will be served with this project and annual energy savings of $179,000 is anticipated. The grantee will assist small rural municipalities to purchase and install LED traffic signal modules at 225 signalized intersections. The conversion of these traffic signals to LED modules will result in operational energy savings of 85%. PennDOT is a strategic partner in this project, providing technical assistance for module installation. To ensure local capacity to provide lighting installation, PennDOT will sponsor several training workshops for lighting maintenance companies within the Region. Contracting with local firms will help to retain and create jobs for these local lighting contractors. The operational savings resulting from this project will enable local municipalities to better provide services to their communities.

Cleveland/Bradley Business Center, Energy Business Incubator.
It is projected that six new businesses will locate in the facility, resulting in the creation of 24 new jobs. The grantee will develop an Energy Business Incubator to provide the space and support needed for fledgling energy businesses to become viable. The 12,000 sq ft facility will include manufacturing space and a 2,000 sq ft Learning Lab. The Incubator will offer education programs and small business development assistance in energy related fields. The facility will also house the Cleveland State Community College Biodiesel Fuels Lab, and solar and geothermal energy programs. Companies will use the laboratory to train their employees, and the labs and associated training programs will provide long-term public education and support for employment within energy related industries.

Town of Blacksburg for the Blacksburg Municipal Annex, a LEED certified facility.
This grant will create a new energy efficiency education program, and purchase and install a geothermal heating and cooling system. The Town of Blacksburg is renovating a historic building to house the Departments of Planning and Building, and Engineering and GIS. This 13,000 sq ft facility, built in 1924, will utilize historic tax credits to create a LEED certified energy efficient facility. The building will include exhibits and demonstrations that show how green architecture and engineering can be integrated into building design, and will promote green building practice, energy efficient design, and sustainable development. The Town envisions green building brochures in the lobby, various exhibits and cutaways of the building in the reception area, and a self-guided path around the property with detailed signage highlighting the various sustainable and environmental elements including rain garden, photovoltaic demonstration, green roof, and geothermal systems. The building will be used as an education tool for citizens and developers who will visit these offices.

Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, Central Appalachian Forest Energy Cooperative.
It is anticipated that one new business and 100 direct jobs will be created as a result of these activities. The grantee will develop a Forest Energy Cooperative to harvest and market underutilized mill and forest floor waste for use as a renewable energy feedstock. The Cooperative will develop a viable market model and business plan for a sustainable small business. Research will be conducted to identify the quality and quantity of the types of hardwood waste available. Collection of waste wood and transport to customers will occur. A Cooperative web site and communications materials will be developed.