Kitsap refines stimulus requests

Kitsap County is poised to apply for $2.39 million in Federal stimulus money targeted for the development of energy efficiency, winnowing the requests down to nine specific areas.

“The money is in an account has our name on it,” said Special Projects Director Eric Baker. “We just need to complete the applications.”

The county has been developing stimulus requests even before President Barack Obama took office.

Baker presented this portion of the requests to the county commissioners on Wednesday. The final list is scheduled for approval at the June 22 regular commissioners’ meeting.

The projects must meet at least one of three criteria: Reduction of the county’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of maintenance costs, or setting an example for both private companies and public agencies.

The projects include the repair of the courthouse roof, improvements to the Kitsap Pavilion and Presidents Hall and the purchase of an electric truck and the establishment of charging stations.

Even though the projects won’t cost the county any out-of-pocket funds, the commissioners are hoping to make efficient investments in technology and practices that are cost-effective. For instance, North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer said he wasn’t sure if fixing the courthouse roof provided enough return for the investment. And Central Commissioner Josh Brown questioned how the money would be allocated in a potential agreement with the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

“I’m not comfortable with spending $20,000 to do something and another $10,000 to tell everyone that we have done it,” Brown said.

On the other hand, Brown said that while fixing the courthouse roof may not show an immediate utility cost savings it is still something that needs to be done.

Baker acknowledged that not every project offers a significant advantage, but all fall under the “setting an example” category. If people see new technology in action they will be more likely to adopt it themselves.

Some projects fail this litmus test. For instance, the installation of a solar water heating system at Presidents Hall would only lower the utilities a small amount, and the design of the facility would require extra security to protect the new equipment.

A more likely improvement to Presidents Hall is the changeover from propane to natural gas, which will carry a significant savings.

The idea of converting to electric cars had to be scaled back, but the county is still hoping to purchase an electrically powered heavy duty truck while accomplishing several retrofits of existing vehicles. Additionally, the county would hope to install some charging stations, both for its own vehicles and electric cars from outside of the area.

This situation demonstrates how less expensive is not always better. Stations that only contain a standard plug can take hours to charge a car, which would be impractical for any visitors’ car. The more expensive stations cost more to set up, but are able to accommodate the growing need for this power type.

Location is also a factor. The most practical place for a charging station is at the Fairgrounds or the Public Works Annex, where such vehicles are usually stored. If the county decides to prioritize the example-setting aspect it will need to be more accessible, most likely at the county administration building.

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