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RePower makes progress toward goal

Over 500 island residents have participated in home energy assessments so far in the RePower challenge. - Courtesy of RePower Bainbridge
Over 500 island residents have participated in home energy assessments so far in the RePower challenge.
— image credit: Courtesy of RePower Bainbridge

 

The placards stuck in the front yards, the graphs on the ferry terminal and the signs dotting Winslow and other island locations all have one clear message: RePower Bainbridge is in full force.

Almost three months past the official launch of the community program there are already 500 islanders who have invited RePower partners into their home for a free energy assessment, and another 300 more are signed up.

“We are ecstatic about the customer and community reaction,” said Councilor Hilary Franz, who helped create the program. “We’ve only heard great feedback that this is extremely valuable, and it’s amazing to hear what people are learning. We are thrilled to be helping people out.”

Funded through a number of grants, including a federal Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant worth nearly $5 million, the program is targeted to help islanders achieve lower energy usage and reduce their costs. The three-year challenge gives residents and businesses a host of ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

The island hit the peak energy usage load numerous times over the last several years, which brought up serious concerns from Puget Sound Energy about the need for additional infrastructure to handle consumption. The RePower program is a community reaction to lower usage on the island.

One of the major goals is to complete the free energy assessments in 4,000, roughly half, of the island homes. Through the assessments a representative walks through the home and helps point out areas where efficiency could be improved and measures installed.

Just a few months into the program Franz says they have already made great progress – they hope to complete 2,500 homes by the end of 2011. To date the program has installed 175 energy efficient upgrades in homes, and hopes to upgrade 1,000 homes by the end of the year.

A key initiative is to educate the existing construction and contractor workforce on energy efficiency standards. After the housing crisis the construction market is still stalled despite other areas of market improvement. The program has a goal of creating 65 jobs and expanding the clean energy economy in the county.

One of the partners in the RePower program is Olympic Community College, which is providing classes on weatherization training in partnership with the energy-focused organization, Conservation Services Group.

“The goal is to help contractors get informed about energy efficiency and retrofit upgrade work,” said Franz. “We want to teach how to deliver savings to homeowners, how to install the measures and ways to recognize the technology options out there and how they work.”

So far there have been two training and certification classes. Over 20 building analysts have been trained and 20 students have completed the weatherization training at OCC. At least one of the students has already been hired to help with the RePower program, Franz said.

This Saturday, islanders can participate in a Home Energy IQ Workshop at Bainbridge Library from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The workshop will give islanders the chance to ask questions, learn about home energy options, get information on simple ways to change behavior and improve indoor air quality to increase the comfort of their homes.

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