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City of Covington helps residents save energy, money

COVINGTON -- The city of Covington is helping customers reduce energy consumption and save money through several programs.

Grant writer Randy Conner gave an update to the City Council at its Aug. 20 meeting of the progress of the city's Green Street Program, funded through a variety of grants. Total program funding awarded to the city is $868,135. To date, the program has resulted in 51 residential and small business energy audits, to help customers find ways to be more energy efficient.

Rebates or finance assistance have been offered for a total of 164 replacements of HVAC systems; 18 weatherizations; 11 appliance replacements; and 17 tankless water heaters.

In addition a solar water heating system and energy efficient exterior lighting for the dock area at City Hall have been installed, saving the city about $8,000 annually. Newton County-based companies performed 97 percent of the work, or a total of $844,117 with 3 percent, or $24,018, performed by companies outside the county.

The city has received several grants for its Green Street Program. These include $292,040 from Electric Cities of Georgia and $321,080 from the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia for on-bill financing for gas or electric appliance improvements or weatherization. These programs allow customers to be billed through their utility bills at zero percent interest.

Financial incentives in the form of customer rebates have also been offered in the amount of $15,848 through the State Energy Program of Electric Cities of Georgia, providing customer rebates to individuals who install Energy Star appliances; and $238,427 from an Energy Efficiency Block Grant, funded through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for those making improvements to owner-occupied properties.

Conner said the city is lobbying for more rebate funds, as customers continue to request assistance. The on-bill financing programs are still available.

The majority of customers who have participated in the weatherization program have seen an average savings of 20 percent on their utility bills, he said. "We've gotten a lot of positive reviews from the citizens for this,"he said, adding that GEFA has asked the city to serve as a model for how its grant program should work.