Energy Efficiency with New Joint Office of Sustainability, Silver City & Grant County

Location: New Mexico, USA

Population: 26,998 (Grant County, 2019)

Climate: cool semi-arid climate

Duration: 2010-2011

Sector: Buildings

Funding sources: Public

City networks: N/A

Savings: annual savings of 262,602 kWh of electricity and 159,503 m3 of natural gas.

Solutions: (1) city building retrofits, new solar energy system and weatherization outreach effort; (2) energy efficiency improvements in 384 homes.

Multiple benefits: (1) reduce poverty and social inequity: most of the residents of the homes completed were low-income (76%), disabled (40%) and/or seniors (47%); (2) green job creation; (3) more self-reliance of the local community.

Objective – (1) To fostering a greater degree of community self-reliance through residential energy conservation, efficiency and large-scale renewable energy projects; (2) to encourage new green jobs, businesses, and economic development for the region.

Solutions – In 2010, after Silver City (the seat of Grant County) and Grant County both received some external energy efficiency grants, they set up the Joint Office of Sustainability (JOS).

The JOS coordinates energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy activities for Silver City and Grant County, including the small mining communities which have fewer resources or capacity to address energy efficiency and conservation.

The JOS started by focusing on neighbourhood energy efficiency programs, especially those for households with seniors, persons with disabilities, and those earning less than the median income. The Energy $ense program performed home energy assessments, basic weatherization improvements, and installation of clotheslines and compact fluorescent lights. As of October 2011, the Energy $ense retrofit program had facilitated energy efficiency improvements in 384 homes (182 in the Town of Silver City, 45 in Grant County, and 157 in the Mining District).

The JOS also leveraged EECBG funds to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings and install a large-scale solar system. Most of the public buildings were built in the 1960s and 1970s, and those in the historic district were over 100 years old. An energy assessment of public buildings identified the need to replace lighting and HVAC systems with newer energy-efficient equipment. The City Council also approved plans for a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed through a Solar Power Purchase Agreement, which uses a third-party company to build the solar system and connect it to the local utility’s electricity grid.

Funding – Silver City received $341,298 in competitively awarded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funding through the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD); Grant County received $126,400 as formula grant directly from Department of Energy (DOE). Moreover, the two grants were leveraged with $1.19 million from Grant County and other sources.

Innovation – New institutional setup to coordinate energy efficiency programs for public buildings and energy retrofit in residential buildings.

Success factors – (1) Two external grants; (2) coordination between different levels of local government authorities; (3) substantial local co-financing; (4) targeting disadvantaged social groups.

Significant outcomes

  • The JOS estimates that the program generated total annual savings of 262,602 kWh of electricity and 55,950 therms of natural gas.
  • At current rates that translates into total annual cost savings of $63,785 ($25,892 from electricity; $37,893 from natural gas), reducing residential utility bills by $166 per year on average.

Synergies with local policies:

  • The actions tap into the nexus of energy, environment and economy and contribute to local economic growth, job creation, and social inequity reduction.

Political alignment:

  • The political trends of green development, climate change mitigation, and sustainable local development.
  • Political and funding support from the state and federal government.

Marketability: N/A

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Sector: Buildings

Country / Region: United States

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Southwest Energy Efficiency Project