It was a who’s who of local government and environmental groups that gathered today in Court Square for the announcement that Charlottesville and Albemarle are the winners of a $500,000 grant competition run by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. The local community was one of 16 to submit proposals on energy and water savings, and came out on top with its Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). Other cities in the running included Nashville, TN, Miami, FL, and Asheville, NC.
The main thrust of the LEAP program would be to give out information and loans to homeowners who want to make energy-efficient improvements to their houses. The goals are ambitious: 20 to 40 percent efficiency gain over five to seven years, with 30 to 50 percent market penetration. Yep, as many as one in two local houses could conceivably get efficiency upgrades if all goes according to plan. Oh, and projections are that LEAP will create 1,600 jobs.
Officials were obviously excited. "We in this locality have the opportunity to establish a pattern that will be replicated. Let’s go get this done," said Albemarle supervisor David Slutzky. Congressman Tom Perriello linked the news to other advancements in energy throughout the Fifth District, describing praise that he received from Energy Secretary Stephen Chu after touring a Southside biorefinery. "It’s setting a trend for the entire country, and news of that has reached the highest levels of this administration," said Perriello.
LEAP is slated for a January 2010 launch.