The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council has awarded Liberty Township $108,000 in grants to help make energy-saving improvements.
Liberty Township Administrator Patrick Ungaro said the NOPEC grants, coupled with earlier energy-saving projects, could ultimately result in electric consumption being cut by as much as half in the township buildings.
''This is a great example of NOPEC's desire to provide lower energy costs for its members throughout northeast Ohio,'' Joseph Migliorni, NOPEC's chairman, said. ''We work hard through our bulk buying of energy to secure the lowest electric and natural gas rates we can for our residential and business customers. But we also encourage our member communities to reduce their energy consumption through various efficiencies such as the projects in Liberty Township.''
According to information released by NOPEC, the grants include:
l $20,000 for retrofitting township buildings, including fire stations, with light emitting diode (LED) lighting, which uses considerably less electricity than conventional lighting;
l $28,000 for replacement of the township building sign, which is 30 years old and corroded, with a sign illuminated with energy-saving LED lighting that will feature an illuminated message board for residents;
l $25,000 for improvements in the bathrooms and concession stand at the township's Center Park, including new energy-saving lighting. This grant will be part of a $330,000 improvement project at the park;
l $35,000 for improvements being made as part of the Shady Road Bridge replacement, including LED street lighting. Ungaro said the lighting will be energy-efficient, attractive and will upgrade safety in the area, which sees considerable pedestrian activity.
''We have limited resources, so we have to make the most out of every dollar we spend,'' Ungaro said. ''These grants from NOPEC are coming at just the right time and will save us money in the future through reduced energy use. And we were able to leverage these NOPEC grants, using them as our local contribution for other, bigger grants that will result in many improvements in Liberty Township."
The Liberty Township grants are part of nearly $16 million in grants that NOPEC will be distributing to its 129 member communities in Trumbull County and eight other northeast Ohio counties it serves. The grant money came from FirstEnergy Solutions as part of an agreement the utility struck with NOPEC earlier this year.
Leigh Herington, NOPEC's executive director, applauded Liberty Township for being so responsive to the challenge of using the money for energy projects within the township.
"Once Liberty Township officials understood the purpose of the grant, they have gone out of their way to develop excellent programs for the people in the township," Herington said.
The grants are intended to be used primarily for projects that relate to energy conservation, the use of advanced energy or energy education.
NOPEC is a regional, nonprofit energy aggregation that offers its member communities a discounted electricity program and a natural gas program.