JAY — With an eye toward reducing town energy use and costs, town officials and members of the public held a workshop Monday with a representative of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments during which they discussed projects and grant opportunities.
Yvette Meunier from AVCOG led the brainstorming session. The organization wrote to the Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation and the Future for a grant funding support measures for up to five municipalities. Through Community Resilience Partnerships the state has made available $4.75 million in grant funds to communities statewide to help them become more resilient to climate change over the next two years.
Jay has the opportunity to apply for up to a $50,000 grant, as do other municipalities, or if a town partners with two or more towns, the grant could be up to $100,000, Meunier said.
By means of Community Action Grants and direct support to municipal and tribal governments, the partnerships assist participating towns “reduce carbon emissions, transition to clean energy, and become more environmentally, socially and financially resilient to the impacts of climate change on public health, infrastructure , natural resources and long-term viability,” according to information presented by Meunier.
Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere, Selectpersons Gary McGrane and Lee Ann Dalessandro and Town Clerk/Code Enforcement Officer Ronda Palmer worked with Meunier on a self-evaluation of the town. They looked at a variety of documents including the town’s Comprehensive Plan and ordinances.
Jay has already taken steps to become more energy efficient. There are 72 actions for projects in the grant program that Jay could apply to accomplish. The town has done some of them. Among these are keeping the property tax rate down for taxpayers despite the downturn in the paper industry and subsequent loss in valuation.
The town has also provided a high level of services with reduced budgets and staffing, and has implemented energy efficiency measures such as upgrading street lights to LEDs and incorporating energy efficient lighting projects in many of the town facilities. It is also negotiating a purchase power agreement with ReVision Energy for additional solar energy savings.
“In addition, we collaborate regionally to provide sewer services to our citizens,” LaFreniere read from the self-evaluation form. “A recent project connecting the North Jay sewer system to the Jay Village system and ultimately the Livermore Falls Sewer Treatment Plant has allowed us to take our North Jay Sewer Treatment Plant offline, a financial savings as well as environmentally beneficial.”
The evaluation offered areas of short-term improvement: additional energy savings in town facilities and equipment.
“We are in the process of upgrading our HVAC system at the Municipal Building and the boilers in our Public Works Garage and one of our Fire Stations,” LaFreniere said. “We could also explore options for electrical car charging systems for our residents and/0r electric municipal vehicles.”
Long-term areas of improvement include continuing to “focus on energy savings. Reduce the risks of flooding and other weather events on town roads and infrastructure. Economic development — attracting new businesses and helping the ones that are already here prosper. Upkeep of the Livermore Falls Sewer Treatment Plant, which Jay has interlocal agreement to use,” LaFreniere said.
Discussion also revolved around an energy audit on town buildings to see where heat is being lost, which Meunier said would be a good first step, as well as the installation of a foam cover over the flat roof on the Municipal Building.
This spring, Selectpersons approved a resolution to enroll in the partnership. AVCOG is also working with the towns of Carthage, Chesterville and Greenwood, Meunier said.
AVCOG will also look for other sources of grant funding including Maine Emergency Management Agency and Efficiency Maine, Meunier said.
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