Cincinnati Library awarded nearly $200,000 - more than half from energy rebate

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received nearly $200,000 last week – nearly half of which came from a Duke Energy rebate that awarded the Library for reducing its energy use at the Main Library in downtown.
 
Duke presented a check to the Library for $111,000 for making a series of energy upgrades that will reduce energy consumption. Just days later, library administrators received word they had been awarded three separate grants all aimed at improving youth learning.
 
“It was amazing,’’ says Kim Fender, Library director. “I can’t remember a time like this. I just kept getting emails saying we had been awarded the grants. I was more than happy to accept them.”
 
The grants include:
 
· The Sutphin Family Foundation at PNC Bank awarded $10,000 to the Library Foundation and the Luther Charitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank and Narley L. Haley, Co-Trustees, awarded an $18,000 grant to the Friends of the Public Library. Combined, the grants will pay for 10 new digital leaning systems called The AfterSchool Edge. The computer systems feature 50 pieces of educational software aimed at students between the ages of 6 and 14. 

· Two national groups awarded the Library a combined $57,853 for its teen financial literacy program. The organizations making the grants  will not be publicly disclosed until January. 
 
While the grants are one-time payments, the energy work the library has done and is planning to continue into 2013 provides immediate and ongoing savings, Fender says. It also helps offset recent funding cuts.
 
A member of the Library Board suggested that the Library look into a program that Duke Energy is testing called Smart Building Advantage® to determine if the Main Library, which is a collection of three buildings constructed at different times, could benefit from making energy efficiency upgrades.
 
Fender says the Library’s buildings' energy use and systems were assessed and recommendations were made in the 88-page report. Ken Muth, business development manager for Duke Energy, worked directly with the Library. Cory Gordon, Smart $aver custom product manager for Duke Energy, completed all of the modeling, analysis of savings and calculation of the incentive.
 
The first phase of the project, for which the Library received the $111,000 rebate, included replacing T12 lights with T8 lights and making improvements to the Library’s boiler plant.  
 
The second phase, which will include replacing air handling units, is currently being bid with work slated to be completed by this coming summer. That work should net the Library another $210,000 rebate from Duke – if all goes as planned, she says.
 
The energy upgrades will cost the Library close to $2 million, but Fender says that Library should recoup those cost in energy savings within five years.
 
“The bigger part is the immediate savings we will see in our utility bill,’’ says Fender, noting the improvements should save the Library about $400,000 a year. “This is money that will stay at the Library. It comes at a great time as it should help offset some of our funding cuts.”
 
The Duke program was started in 2009 and has greatly expanded, says Kevin Bright, managing director of business markets for Duke Energy. The program started in response to Senate Bill 221, which set out goals for Ohio utilities to reduce energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025 and to reduce peak demand by 7.75 percent by 2018. The program also ensures that Duke makes revenue on each project, which is overseen by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Bright says. 

“In the end, Duke Energy worked with the PUCO to create a regulatory model that allows Duke Energy to earn a return similar to the way we would normally earn a return on installing new assets,” Bright says.
 
The utility has processed nearly 14,000 individual applications and paid more than $21 million in incentives from non-residential customers. The utility does not yet track how many of those applications turned into projects. 
 
“The programs are offered to help customers reduce energy use, which helps them reduce their operating costs, which helps them with their products being more competitive, and ultimately we hope they grow their businesses in our service territory. It’s truly a win-win-win relationship,’’ Bright says. “Customers benefit from reduced costs and improved operations. Duke Energy wins by reducing load to help meet our objectives under Senate Bill 221 and by extending the timeframe required to construct new generating facilitie. And we all win by improved environmental conditions, regional growth and competitiveness.”
 
Do Good:
 
• Get news updates from the Library via their Twitter feed
 
• See if your business qualifies for Duke Energy’s Smart $aver incentive program.
 
See how you can lower your energy usage at home. 
 
Order free energy efficient CFL bulbs if you are a Duke Energy customer.
 
Chris Graves is the assistant vice president of digital and social media the Powers Agency.
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