EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Business

January 16, 2011

Federal stimulus grant aimed at increasing energy efficiency

LAWRENCE — "Energy-efficiency" may not sound as sexy as rooftop solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal heating and cooling systems. But don't tell that to the 26 area businesses that have already signed up for a new program to have their buildings audited by a local firm that specializes in finding energy- and cost-saving solutions.

On Monday morning, approximately 100 local business and political leaders gathered at Sal's Function Hall on Merrimack Street in Lawrence for a presentation by the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce and Nexamp, a North Andover clean energy company, regarding implementation of a $500,000 federal stimulus grant.

The grant was issued to both organizations, with about $70,000 going to the chamber of commerce for outreach and administration, and the rest going to Nexamp to conduct energy audits.

The audits are intended to show businesses how they can save money on heating and electric bills by doing anything from changing light bulbs to installing new and improved heating/air conditioning systems.

Dan Leary, president of Nexamp, said the grant will be used to create a customized Clean Energy Road Map, which includes a detailed audit of a building, followed by a Web-based software program showing where and how a business can save on a particular building's energy costs.

"We will create a map for the 26 members who have signed up for the program," Leary said.

Once the areas of energy savings have been identified, he said, it is up to the company to decide whether to make investments in energy saving technology.

While the grant covers the road map and ongoing energy-use monitoring, it does not cover what Leary called "deep energy retrofits," or "retro-commissioning," which could include a variety of options, from new light bulbs to new boilers.

Alex Sherman, a Clean Energy Fellow with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, said the state was enthusiastic about the grant application because of the partnership approach.

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