Montevallo seeking more grant funding to continue energy upgrades

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer 

MONTEVALLO – The city of Montevallo has completed two energy upgrade projects, and more could be forthcoming if the city can secure more grant funding.

Retrofitting the lights in several municipal buildings and parks has been a key component of the city’s efforts to become more energy efficient.

“Montevallo has always regarded energy efficiency as a top priority,” Sustainability Coordinator Olivia Barone said. “Prior to the robust sustainability program, our parks, fire department and City Hall represent a commitment to energy efficiency through LED and motion-sensor lights. Our downtown Main Street corridor, the central feature of our small city, is equipped with LED lights as well.”

Starting in 2020, Montevallo partnered with Alabama Power on multiple projects, conducting the first “virtual” energy audit for city operations and retrofitting all city street lights to LED.

“This audit, with 36 months of data, gave us the list of top energy users,” Barone said. “Since that project, the sustainability office has held meetings with each department head to understand their energy usage, gaps and barriers to energy efficiency projects – financial barriers being the hardest to overcome.”

Montevallo applied for and was awarded $40,000 from the 2020 SEP ADECA grant, which allowed the city to retrofit the lights in the Parnell Memorial Library, the biggest energy user, to LED.

This change is estimated to save more than 60,000 kWh, resulting in about $10,000 a year in energy savings.

“A special thanks to C&C Electric for bidding the project, ADECA for awarding the grant, our mayor and City Council, and the cross-departmental effort to make this sustainable project come to fruition,” Barone said. “We came in slightly under budget and were able to leverage those extra funds for smaller retrofit. With an additional match from the city, we retrofitted a truck bay and outside lights at one of our fire stations to LED, with a payback of 140 days.”

Montevallo recently received services from SouthFace, financed by ADECA, to conduct third-party audits on four of its buildings: the recycling center, Fire Station No. 2, Parnell Memorial Library and City Hall.

All audits were complete with recommendations of projects, payback periods and routine building maintenance, Barone said.

The City Council on July 12 approved Barone’s request to apply and have matching funds available for a 2021 ADECA State Energy Program grant, which would be used for a solar panel installation at City Hall.

The $40,000 grant would require a 25-percent match of $10,000 from the city.

“This system would produce 22,869 kWh annually, or 20 percent of energy consumption at the building,” she said. “City Hall will be a wonderful example and demonstration project for green energy and shows Montevallo’s commitment to sustainable initiatives with clear focus on fiscal responsibility because City Hall serves as the face of the city.”

Barone said City Hall is one of the city’s top-three energy users because it houses the police department, which requires energy to operate all day, every day.

If Montevallo is chosen for the grant, it would need to bid the $50,000 project.

“I am really excited for Montevallo to even have this opportunity,” Barone said. “I think it’s going to be great for cost savings, and it adds a positive image to what the city already has.”

Barone said support from community organizations, city departments, the University of Montevallo and the City Council has helped Montevallo meet sustainability goals related to energy savings, emission reduction and resource conservation.

“By continuing to improve the look and feel of City Hall, we can attract businesses, visitors, and permanent residents,” Barone added. “City Hall is truly at the heart of Montevallo, both in governance and location. It becomes a visual representation of growth and vision for the entire 12-square mile community.”