Village seeks energy grants

ONTONAGON — The Village Council heard a presentation Monday by Brad Barnett, planning Director for the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR), who also introduced Melissa Davis of New Power Tour.

New Power Tour’s mission is to increase the use of renewable and energy efficient technologies. They informed the council about a state-funded program called the Community Energy Management Planning program.

“The plan is to reduce energy usage at municipal-held facilities, along with weatherization activities for residents and businesses,” stated Barnett. “We can do up to 10 audits for specific municipal buildings or businesses within your community.”

Barnett listed funding opportunities through this program. Davis talked about the success the New Power Tour has had in Houghton County.

“We have momentum going with people winterizing each other’s houses in our area,” she said. “Our nonprofit has winterized over 95 houses.”

The program works with Efficiency United, SEMCO and UPPCO. Davis talked about the efficiency of electric water heaters and heating systems using hot water.

She also brought up SEMCO’s planned expansion of natural gas and how Efficiency United may pay for a residents’ water heaters and furnaces at no cost to residents.

On the subject of bringing down utility costs, Ontonagon Village Manager Joe Erickson talked about the village’s savings at the Ontonagon Recreation Center, street lighting and the River Street garage.

“In preparing the budget, I was able to identify how some past investments in energy efficiency are paying off,” he said. “The new roof on the River Street garage has cut the cost of heating by about $1000 per year. New lights at the rec building on Main Street and in the office are also showing a savings. Electric costs at the rec building and street lights are down about $2,500 each, and there is about $300 savings here at the office.”

The council also set the date for a budget meeting for Feb 22 at 2 p.m.

Erickson and Village Council President Ken Waldrop also talked about snow removal. Erickson pointed out that it is illegal for anyone to deposit snow on a village street and cautioned people to be cautious at intersections where the snowbanks hamper visibility.

While Erickson stated the Department of Public Works is trying to clear fire hydrants as fast as it can, Waldrop asked for residents’ assistance in keeping fire hydrants clear of snow.