Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle today signed an interlocal agreement to launch the next phase of the reEnergize Program, a community initiative to promote energy efficiency. In April 2010, this collaborative effort between Nebraska's two largest cities was one of 25 pilot projects to be awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant competitive program.
Most of the funds are being used for energy efficiency upgrades in existing buildings in targeted areas of the communities. Working with community partners, reEnergize uses a public-private strategy to focus on overcoming three major barriers to growth in the Lincoln-Omaha market: access to consumer information, access to a skilled workforce and access to financing opportunities.
"We want to remind homeowners, businesses and residents in our two cities that now is the time to sign up to take advantage of what the reEnergize program offers for saving energy, putting money in people's pockets, creating local jobs and reducing our long-term energy needs," Beutler said. "A particularly exciting part of this program is how Lincoln and Omaha are working together to help build the local market for energy efficiency upgrades."
The program was launched in Omaha in January, and this agreement opens the same opportunity for Lincoln homeowners and businesses. (City employees are not eligible.) The program is first available to those in "Start Zones," which were selected for their range of income levels, mix of ownership and rentals, concentration of older buildings and level of community engagement. In Omaha, about 500 residents have signed up so far.
"The reEnergize program encourages energy savings with expert technical assistance, streamlined contracting services and financial incentives available to homeowners," Suttle said. "The reEnergize Program will provide a great opportunity for Omaha and Lincoln to become leaders in energy efficiency for the State of Nebraska and the entire Midwest."
Residents in the Start Zones who sign up for the program may receive $1,000 or more in direct financial incentives to cover the costs of insulation, more efficient heating and cooling, improved lighting and other upgrades. There is no income eligibility, and participants will pay a percentage of the costs. Small businesses and nonprofits that sign up will receive professional evaluations and consulting services to determine the most cost-effective energy upgrades for their properties.
The goal is to have about 2,100 households and 180 businesses and non-profits participate in reEnergize. More information is available online at www.reEnergizeProgram.org or by phone at 877-402-5111 (toll-free).
In Lincoln, staff with the Mayor's Cleaner Greener Lincoln initiative are meeting with residents, neighborhood associations, and business groups to promote reEnergize. A grant will fund an additional staff person to help enroll and guide people and businesses through the process. Milo Mumgaard, Senior Aide to Mayor Beutler, said reEnergize will complement new energy incentives available through the Sustainable Energy Program of the Lincoln Electric System (LES). LES also has a new kilowattchers.org website to help customers find ways to save energy and money.