Half a mil for more efficient houses

I was at the press conference Monday when SEEA (that’s the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance) announced it was giving half a million dollars to Charlottesville and Albemarle. Our localities are the winners of SEEA’s grant competition for communities who want to become more energy-efficient. Yeah, us! We beat Asheville! We beat Jacksonville! We beat friggin’ Bowling Green! Half a million, yo!

Seriously, it was a proud day. Kristel Riddervold looked proud (she works for the city and had a big role in developing the plan). Eric Gilchrist looked proud (he runs the CCDC’s Spark! program, which will be a partner in the new initiative). Congressman Tom Perriello looked proud. And David Slutzky and Dave Norris and everybody who’s anybody in local government.

What does the plan do, you ask? I explain it, in a little more detail and a more sober voice, here. Short version: loans for homeowners to make their houses more efficient. Lots of homeowners—as in one in every two. The winning proposal is called LEAP (Local Energy Alliance Program) and it’s a far-reaching plan to curb local emissions. We’re talking major market penetration and, it’s projected, $75 million in energy savings community-wide over the next seven years. So it’s ambitious.

Doug Lowe, owner of Artisan Construction, told me he thinks the plan’s boldness is what earned it the prize. The 30 to 50 percent of local homes that LEAP hopes to upgrade is remarkable, he said, but "Even 25 percent would be astounding." And as a contractor, he thinks this plan really could create some jobs (1,600 are projected). We will see. The intentions are, without a doubt, stellar.

You’ll have to wait at least until LEAP’s January kickoff to find out if your house can get some help, but in the meantime watch the website for more info (soon to be launched).

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