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RePower makes its final push

RePower Bainbridge came on the island scene just three years ago and it’s about to run out of juice.

For islanders, that means the clock is running out on the nonprofit’s powerfully good deals.

“We are wrapping up July 15, that is the last day for people to get their work done and get the RePower awards,” said Stephanie Gray with RePower. “After that, the money won’t be here.”

RePower Bainbridge has spent three years offering free home energy inspections, and has connected homeowners with energy saving rebates and specialized contractors to get the work done.

RePower has also offered cash incentives of its own to help offset any energy upgrade costs.

The effort was largely made possible through a joint Better Buildings grant for Bremerton and Bainbridge Island from the U.S. Department of Energy.

But that grant money has a time limit, and RePower’s energy upgrade clock has reached the 11th hour.

“That money on the table, when time runs out, it goes back to the granters,” Gray said.

“Here’s RePower, it’s a resource to help you improve your home, reduce your energy costs, and here’s some cash rebates, too,” she added. “Why wouldn’t you use it?”

Gray also notes that an energy efficient home is also a more competitive home on the market place.

To help islanders put it all together, RePower is hosting a community outreach effort next week as its final push. The event is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 13 at Woodward Middle School, and it will bring together homeowners, trade allies, lenders, guest speakers and free workshops.

For homeowners who take advantage of the event — and make at least two improvements to their home — RePower will give them $800 to offset any costs.

Gray said they are hoping to assist 400 more homes by the time the grant deadline arrives. She further noted that about 50 percent of island households have taken advantage of RePower’s free energy check-up; it’s a home walk-through along with tests to find any energy inefficiencies that ultimately lead to lost energy dollars over time.

“We have a lot of people who have taken that step but haven’t moved forward,” Gray said.

Upgrades can range from better insulation to locating air leaks.

In the past three years, RePower Bainbridge has helped approximately 500 homes and 70 business with energy upgrades on the island.

“On Bainbridge we have currently saved 6 million kilowatt hours. That’s enough to power 300 homes for a full year,” Gray said.

The progress has changed the local industry. While RePower once had to go on a hunt for referrals, now people are coming to them.

“Now we are seeing a number of our referrals coming from our contractors,” Gray said. “It means they are doing a great job and the community has adopted it. The momentum is there.”

“That is our legacy, we’ve helped transforme the market,” she added. “We created nearly 50 new jobs in Kitsap County, out of our goal of 65.”

Gray noted that with the support RePower has received from the island community, it is likely the organization will remain after the money runs out to help islanders with their energy needs.

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