Lakewood, NJ – As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Lakewood Township has received an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) of $678,200.00, which will be used to save energy, improve efficiency, install energy saving equipment, and help the environment through the use of solar energy, all without spending local tax dollars. Taxpayers will actually realize a substantial savings.
This grant is being used for two separate projects. One project will involve replacing windows and doors and installing special lighting to conserve energy. The second project will focus on solar energy.
With Steven Reinman, the director of Economic Development, Lakewood Township officials and Birdsall Engineering did an assessment of all the township buildings and determined the projects and township sites primed for energy upgrades.
According to Reinman, “The municipal building alone is 40 years old and is in dire need of upgrades to make it more energy efficient. As a result, the replacement of most windows and doors, and the replacement of the boiler and air conditioning systems (HVAC) with high efficiency systems should result in significant savings for the town.”
Other townships buildings, such as the inspections building on Fourth Street and emergency services building on Pine Street and New Hampshire Avenue, will receive similar upgrades. Since Public Works is a fairly new facility, it should not require any upgrades at this time.
Because converting to solar energy requires a great investment for the township, township officials have decided to offer an RFP, for which investors can propose to install solar systems on township buildings and offer a significant reduction in electricity costs.
Reinman says, “For example, if our usage is now 1,000 kilowatts a month, and solar companies can produce 200 kilowatts a month, 20 percent of our usage would be at a significantly reduced rate. Solar systems are installed on a roof and tied into a specific meter. Whatever solar energy is produced is distinguished from what is being taken from JCP&L. With a solar system, we would be able to reduce the amount of energy we use from JCP&L. The percentages of how much solar energy we use, however, will vary from building to building, depending on how much solar capacity is on a particular roof.”
Another solar project could involve the BlueClaws stadium, a Township property. Here canopies with solar panels on the top of poles can be installed in large parking lots, a common practice. Cars park beneath the canopies so no parking area is lost. The canopies have full access to the sun, making them a solar farm on poles.
Reinman says, “The successful RFP respondent will be producing electricity and selling it to BlueClaws. Any excess production will be sold back to JCP&L. The terms of the deal are endless. We are very excited about the possibilities. I think we are getting a lot of leverage out of the money from the federal government allotted to Lakewood under this grant. A good portion of it is going to the direct improvement of our facilities. Birdsall will manage the solar process for us with the small amount of money left.
“Birdsall Engineering has done quite a few solar projects in many municipalities and counties. Because of their technical knowledge and experience, Birdsall is designing a solar panel grid system to be put on five municipal buildings. They will also manage the entire project from the RFP process and responses to the actual contract.”
Since there have been very few local responses to various bids in the past, bids for Lakewood projects will be advertised on the home page of the township website at www.lakewoodnj.gov and in newspaper advertisements.
Ervin Oross, community development director, says, “This grant is a great thing for the township because we can realize hard cost savings to the taxpayers via efficiency and energy systems. It is important for the public to know that we had a professional energy audit done that guided the committee’s decisions about how to judiciously spend the grant money we received. Birdsall was fantastic because they had experience in 30 other towns to help us put this thing together.”
The HVAC for the municipal building and all other municipal facilities included in the plan started August 1. The solar specs are in the process of being designed.