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Stimulus funds to help save on energy
Stafford receives stimulus funds to help conserve energy


Date published: 4/7/2009

BY JONAS BEALS

Stafford County recently received a $484,300 grant to improve the energy efficiency of a number of county buildings. Those measures could trim some expenses from the budget.

The funds will be some of the first stimulus dollars to hit Stafford. The money comes as a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant managed by the United States Department of Energy.

According to the Department of Energy Web site, there is more than $2.6 billion in formula grants available to state and local governments. Stafford officials said that approximately $60 million of that will go toward energy efficiency in Virginia.

"We've been very aggressive about pursuing stimulus funds," Stafford Public Information Officer Cathy Riddle said. "We were very excited to get the notice. It was a pleasant surprise."

The county is prepared for the grant, thanks to an energy audit completed two years ago. Some of the recommendations in that study--motion-sensor lights and upgraded thermostats--can now be implemented.

"We've definitely been aware of the green movement," Riddle said. "We already have a group looking at ways to be more energy efficient and save money."

Many of those conservation measures cost nothing and already have been implemented. County employees have been turning off their computers at night, walking down darkened hallways and wearing sweaters to save electricity costs.

Those changes have been effective, and officials hope to expand on that success with the new funds.

Stafford officials plan to meet this week to find out how exactly that money will come in.

"This process is so new and there isn't a protocol, so we're trying to find out what we need to do to get the cash in our hands," Riddle said.

Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036
Email: jbeals@freelancestar.com