Knox gets $100K NYSERDA grant

KNOX — The town has gotten a long-sought $100,000 grant to be used for projects promoting energy efficiency.

Knox Councilwoman Amy Pokorny announced that the Clean Energy Communities Program grant had been secured since the town finished training the town’s code enforcement officer Daniel Sherman in the state Energy Code’s best practices — that was the fourth and final energy-saving effort the town completed in order to get the grant.

Pokorny said at Tuesday’s town board meeting that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which offers the grant, had contacted her Monday night about the grant’s completion.

The town had previously completed three other efforts, called action items: benchmarking energy use by town-owned buildings; adopting a unified solar permit to streamline residential solar installations; and holding solarize sessions for two years in a row, resulting in at least 10 rooftop installations in town as well as contracts for community solar.

The town is also currently in the midst of installing LED lights in the town’s street lamps. Pokorny encouraged completion of the project despite it no longer being needed for the grant.

“It’s worth the effort, and they save us money in the long run,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Pokorny later informed The Enterprise that the lights were completed Wednesday.

This winter, Pokorny, with the board’s backing, had applied for an $11,000 grant to install an electrical-vehicle charging station in Knox, which would have been the fourth action item for the $100,000 grant. However, the EV station received heated comments from the audience at a town board meeting, and no board member seconded her motion to receive the $11,000 grant.

Four Capital Region towns with populations under 40,000 were eligible for the $100,000 grant on a first-come, first-served basis. After the delay in applying for the grant, it had been indicated at past town board meetings that Knox might qualify only for a lesser amount. Pokorny said on Tuesday that the $100,000 grant was the last of the four.

The town must submit a proposal for how to use the grant within the next three months in order to the receive the funds. The $100,000 is expected to be used for repairing the town highway garage, which has weak infrastructure about which town officials have disagreed on how to fix. The superintendent has said he thinks a new garage should be built, shared with the county.

The town will have an energy audit conducted to identify specific projects to be done, said Pokorny.

Pokorny told The Enterprise after the meeting that the garage needs to be insulated, and also has holes in the roof and gaps between the walls and cement floor that cause heat to escape. Insulation and repairs would qualify for the grant money because of the lowered energy use to heat the building.

The timeline of the grant process means repairs couldn’t start until late in the year, said Pokorny, which could be a concern depending on the type of insulation or repairs done. Spray-foam insulation, for example, could not be administered during the winter, she said.

The town board at its meeting on Tuesday also went over proposed items for a capital improvement plan, which included repairs at the highway garage. Town Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis has told The Enterprise in the past that options to mitigate structural problems include leveling the building and constructing a new garage, completing large-scale renovations, or sharing facilities with the county (see related story).

Pokorny noted it would be important to formulate a capital improvement plan to help move forward with the grant.

“What we want to do is have enough small projects to spend all the money on,” she said, of the grant process.

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem,” said Lefkaditis.

 

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