Borough takes steps toward energy efficiency

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008

In an effort to reduce spending on fuel and cut energy waste, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted Tuesday to commit the municipality to developing an Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

Provisions of Resolution 2008-007, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Smith, of Homer, require the borough to use the Energy Star Challenge seven-step program created by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop and coordinate a plan for all borough operations.

The aim is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Establishing a formal policy was considered the best way to affect that goal.

"The resolution doesn't call for spending money, but it asks for an active plan drawn up by the administration," Assemblyman Pete Sprague said during his Policies and Procedures Committee report.

The federal government is expected to create a grant program that may make implementation funds available in the future, he said.

The resolution notes that the borough recognizes the need to understand and control the rising costs of energy for heating and lighting borough buildings and schools, transportation, maintenance, solid waste operations and other activities.

Studies conducted by scientists at the University of Alaska have shown that high levels of greenhouse gasses are causing short-term and long-term impacts to the natural environment and surrounding communities and reducing energy use would cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, the resolution said.

The assembly also approved another energy-related measure, Resolution 2008-009.

Last year's state capital budget included $200,000 for the borough meant to benefit unincorporated communities. That money may be used to defray energy or other community costs.

Communities in line for $20,000 sums include Anchor Point, Cooper Landing, Hope, Nanwalek, Nikiski, Nikolaevsk, Ninilchik, Port Graham, Seldovia Village and Tyonek. Projects range from improving a visitor center in Anchor Point to meeting fuel costs in Tyonek, and include other things such as removing junk vehicles, bringing facilities up to standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and buying and maintaining fire-fighting equipment.

The $200,000 grant was accepted and appropriated Jan. 8 through Ordinance 2007-19-32. The resolution passed Tuesday gives assembly approval for spending the money on the list of projects. The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development also must approve the projects.

In other business, the assembly:

* Enacted Ordinance 2007-41, authorizing Mayor John Williams to sign a sublease and operating agreement with South Peninsula Hospital Inc. The new agreement will last six years.

* Enacted Ordinance 2007-19-35, accepting and appropriating a $59,050 federal grant for fire-fighting equipment for the Bear Creek Fire Service Area.

* Enacted Ordinance 2007-19-36, appropriating $100,000 to make alterations in the borough's sales tax software to accommodate Seward's recent decision to up its tax cap to $1,000. The rest of the borough remains at the $500 cap. The change over, which will require hiring the designer of the current tax software, actually is expected to cost around $70,000 to $80,000.

* Passed Resolution 2008-012, which is related to the Ordinance 2007-19-36. It asks the Legislature to amend state law to authorize boroughs to charge administrative fees where taxes imposed by cities require alterations to the tax-collection program operating in the majority of the cities within a borough.

Assemblyman Ron Long, of Seward, who sponsored the measure, said such costs were more appropriately charged to the city it benefits as opposed to all of the borough residents.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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