Rehoboth goes “green” with half million dollar energy grant

by Michael Short on September 23, 2010

By Michael Short

Rehoboth Beach is going “green” in a very big way.

The city has received a major energy grant to make efficiency improvements like newer windows, more efficient lighting and weatherization. That grant is for $500,000 and is a combination of two city requests.

Rehoboth Beach has also received a $35,000 grant to help pay for the installation of solar panels.

Two additional grant requests, which have not been approved yet, would allow the city to buy hybrid or propane-powered vehicles as well as beginning a bicycle and pedestrian master plan, replacing lights along Rehoboth Avenue and other energy saving measures.

“The grants are available and it’s the proper thing to do,” said Rehoboth Beach City Manager Greg Ferrese.

Ferrese spoke about the grants during the Friday, Sept. 17 city commissioner’s meeting.

“It’s our tax dollars going to Washington D.C. that are (now) coming back to Rehoboth Beach,” he said.

The proposals are expected to help educate the community, save money and cut energy usage for the city.  The process began with an energy audit done several months ago, Ferrese said.

The most significant of the grants is for $500,000. That grant to increase energy efficiency allows the city two years to complete  upgrades to Rehoboth Beach’s Municipal Building, Senior Center, Public Works Department and Police Department.

The solar panels will be installed on the building and licensing building located at 306 Rehoboth Avenue.

If approved, the grant to help purchase vehicles will be for $29,605. It would allow the city to purchase one hybrid and two propane vehicles for city use. Ferrese explained the grant would pay the difference in costs for the vehicles. For example, if a hybrid vehicle costs $5,000 more than a standard vehicle, the grant would pay that $5,000 difference.

The city has also submitted a greenhouse gas reduction grant, although that has not been approved yet. The request is for $214,000 and includes: a pedestrian and bicycle master plan, educational outreach, a complete streets policy and installation of 105 LED pedestrian lights installed in streetlights along Rehoboth Avenue.

Ferrese said the cost savings to the city from the solar panels alone has been estimated to be 12,350 kilowatt hours per year.

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