Three Douglas County public entities hope to receive conservation tips on everything from light bulbs to school buses after they hire an energy manager.
The cities of Baldwin City and Eudora, as well as the Eudora school district, will share an energy manager. The new hire will conduct energy audits on public buildings, vehicles and equipment.
“There is a tendency for us right now to try to be as efficient as we can possibly be,” Eudora Superintendent Don Grosdidier said. “And this allows us to have another set of eyes looking for ways that save money and save energy.”
The three government bodies received a grant from the Kansas Energy Office, a division of the Kansas Corporation Commission, to fund the position. The two-year grant comes with an $85,000 annual stipend, of which no more than $65,000 can be spent on the energy manager’s salary.
The Kansas Energy Office awarded a total of $1.7 million to 10 government coalitions throughout the state. The program is using money authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that comes through Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding.
Last year, the city of Lawrence and Douglas County received federal funding from a similar pot of money to hire a sustainability coordinator.
With the money come several goals the energy managers need to meet in the next two years, said Cara Sloan-Ramos, spokeswoman for the Kansas Corporation Commission. They include:
• Conducting regular meetings with local officials on opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades.
• Training all personnel on energy conservation.
• Identifying alternative energy upgrades that could be implemented.
• Establishing outreach programs in the community on energy efficiency.
• Developing a plan to prioritize energy efficiency upgrades for all energy-using equipment.
“It’s probably a body of knowledge that we don’t have,” Eudora City Administrator John Harrenstein said of the new position. And, without the grant, the city wouldn’t have the money to hire someone to do it, he noted.
At the Eudora school district, Grosdidier hopes to see changes in the gasoline consumed daily to run the school bus fleet. The energy manager would also develop a school curriculum on energy management and conservation that would be used in classrooms.
Interviews are being done, but an energy manager hasn’t been hired yet, Harrenstein said. To qualify for the position, an energy manager must have either an engineering or architecture background or significant experience in the field of energy management and conservation.