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February 16, 2010

Federal stimulus to pay for energy saving efforts in southwest Alabama

Source: http://blog.al.com/live/2010/02/federal_stimulus_to_pay_for_en.html

Gov. Bob Riley is doling out $1.2 million in economic stimulus grants to help cut energy costs across Mobile and Baldwin counties.

The money comes from $9.6 million awarded to the state under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, a federal effort to improve energy technologies across the country, according to the governor's office.

"Making these improvements to our public buildings and facilities is a good economic and environmental investment," Riley said in a news release. "These projects provide work for construction professionals and will save governments and taxpayers thousands of dollars in the future."

Saraland, Citronelle and Creola were awarded $750,000 in a joint partnership. That money will go toward replacing heating and air-conditioning equipment installed at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in the 1960s.

Officials anticipate that the improvements will cut energy costs by nearly $300,000 a year and create 10 construction jobs.

Saraland Council President Howard Rubenstein said that while the cities will not directly see the funds, the grant comes at no costs to the cities, which were required to apply for the money.

"It helps Mobile County as a whole," Rubenstein said. "A lot of our residents use the university (hospital)."

Riley also awarded grants of $250,000 to Bayou La Batre and Daphne, along with $42,350 to Mount Vernon.

Bayou La Batre expects to save $24,000 a year by replacing outdated heating and air-conditioning equipment at the city Community/Senior Center, according to the release.

Daphne will use the grant money to upgrade its wastewater treatment process, saving about $30,000 per year in utility costs, the release stated.

In Mount Vernon, the grant will go toward installing energy-efficient equipment at Town Hall, cutting annual energy costs by roughly $2,700.

Fairhope, meanwhile, won $62,000 in federal stimulus money to purchase and install new LED traffic signals and caution lights.

The new, energy-efficient lights will save the city an estimated $12,000 per year in energy and maintenance costs, said Scott Sligh, electric department superintendent.

"LED lights last approximately 10 times longer. We'll make fewer trips to change them," Sligh said. The new lights also will reflect less sunlight than conventional signals, reducing glare problems in the mornings and evenings, he said.