Hometown Energy Savers program helps nonprofits reduce utility costs and consumption

Nonprofit organizations that provide services for clients with limited incomes may be eligible for grants to improve energy efficiency at their facilities through the Hometown Energy Savers program offered by the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

Qualifying organizations must be located in the BWL electric service territory. The BWL services the Greater Lansing Area, including neighboring cities such as East Lansing, Holt, Bath, Delta Township and DeWitt.

Grants are awarded for up to $5,000 through the three-year-old program that began in 2016. Participating organizations can apply the funds to facilities they own or lease. The goal, says BWL, is to allow organizations to allocate more of their budget to the community services they provide by applying grant funding to make capital improvements, reduce electricity operating costs, and save on utility bills. Examples of improvements include high efficiency lighting, controls, heating and cooling equipment and upgrading some appliances.

"We're committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to all of our customers," says BWL General Manager Dick Peffley. "Part of that commitment is to grow our energy efficiency program beyond the State of Michigan's mandated 1 percent annual savings and to continue the program even after the state's requirement sunsets in 2021."

Peffley adds that the BWL is not aware of any other Michigan utility that has formally adopted and committed to a plan to exceed Michigan's energy efficiency requirement.

To date, 24 organizations have received nonprofit grants to implement 37 projects, several at multiple sites. The BWL has awarded $150,840 in grants since the program started in 2016.

The South Side Community Coalition was among the 2017 grant recipients. Staff at the community center at 2101 W. Holmes Road applied the $3,200 grant toward the purchase of energy efficient appliances, including two new refrigerators and a brand new freezer. Funds also went toward the purchase and installation of a new air conditioner.

"We have more room to store fruits and veggies now," says Administrative Assistant Tresa Bonds. "And it definitely put our energy bills way down since our freezers were really old. We save on that alone, plus we got a rebate on the appliances."

Bonds says in total, the community center that serves youth, senior citizens and low-income residents saves up to $400 a month in energy costs thanks to the upgrades made possible through the grant. That savings, in turn, goes back into the budget and applied to various needs including summer field trips.

The BWL is committed to providing customers 30 percent clean energy by the end of 2020 and 40 percent clean energy by 2030. The result is a projected 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by the end of 2025 when the BWL retires it last coal-fired power plant.

Applications for grants will be considered on a first-come basis. The 2018 program will end November 30, 2018, or until funds are spent. For information and an application, visit the Hometown Energy Savers Business Energy Solutions page at www.lbwl.com/energysavers

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