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South Boston, County Awarded Energy Grants

Halifax County and South Boston are among the jurisdictions awarded a total of $13.2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program for 39 energy conservation projects proposed by local governments.  Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Virginia’s chief jobs creation officer, announced Tuesday on behalf of Governor Bob McDonnell that these grants will leverage an additional $8 million in non-federal funds.

The Mary Bethune Government Complex Energy Project in Halifax has been awarded $400,000, and the Town of South Boston’s Landfill Energy Project has been awarded $393,252.

According to County Administrator George Nester, the $400,000 grant will be used to improve insulation in the walls, ceilings, windows and doors and install a more efficient lighting system at the Mary Bethune Complex in an effort to attain “real energy savings.”

Also the grant will enable the county to purchase and install a group of 100 kw solar panels on the roof which will help augment part of the electricial energy costs during peak demand times from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday, Nester added.

The Town of South Boston’s Energy and Conservation Block Grant will be used to fund a proposed gas to energy project at the former town landfill.

Town Manager Ted Daniel detailed the specifics of the grant saying the project is fully funded as a result of the $524,000 grant.

The grant is a 75/25 match, with the town responsible for $131,000, according to Daniel, and the funds for the town’s share will be transferred from the landfill closure fund.

Joyce Engineering and the Southside Planning District Commission worked with the town in the grant process.

A Joyce Engineering study estimates $440,000 revenue from carbon credits for the duration of the project.

Daniel and Public Works Director Alan Auld said plans have already been drawn up, and the project is ready to move forward.

Auld estimated the project could be up and running in six months.

The grant will fund Phase I of the landfill gas to energy project, including construction of a collection system, which will pipe the gas to a flareoff point at the landfill site.

Phase II, which has been discussed, would take the initial phase of the project a step further and convert landfill gas to electricity through use of microturbine technology.

Nearly 150 applicants seeking $51 million competed for the awards. 

Applications were received from nearly half of about 300 eligible local governments in the state. The applications were ranked based on the amount of energy conserved, the number of jobs created, and other criteria. Bonus points were awarded to localities with high rates of unemployment. 

The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) administers ARRA funds for energy-related projects.

“Jobs will be the first dividend from these innovative programs and projects, but they also have potential to save tax dollars and reduce energy costs for Virginians for years to come. Many of these awards will improve the energy efficiency of buildings and provide education and support for others to make similar improvements.  The improvements will continue for years to save money that otherwise would be spent on mostly imported fuel sources,” Bolling said.