By Connie Chang
Monday, November 9, 2009
Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors are one step closer to launching a collaborative initiative called the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). Both entities passed a memorandum of understanding last week that will allow the City and County to direct grant funds to a non-profit operating company to carry out their goals.
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In June 2009, the
City and County won a $500,000 grant
from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA), whose main purpose was to establish a community-based energy alliance that would coordinate and provide energy-efficiency related services to residential and commercial property owners of all income levels. LEAP would also provide loans to homeowners to assist in covering the cost of energy-saving improvements.
The City and County’s joint proposal to develop LEAP set a goal of a 20-40% efficiency gain in 30-50% of structures within seven years. Because the City and County do not have the legal authority to accept the grant directly, staff has been exploring the legal ramifications and limitations with respect to forming a new non-profit.
With the assistance of outside legal counsel, staff drafted a memorandum of understanding that establishes that SEEA will redirect the grant to a local operating company and that SEEA will agree to perform all due diligence to ensure that the local operating company meets the criteria enumerated in the proposed MOU. City and County staff have involved various stakeholders in the process of developing the LEAP program, including UVA, PVCC, Dominion Power, and SEEA.
The LEAP program is currently comprised of a three-member Board of Directors, which is expected to expand to include other community stakeholders, such as a representative from the state energy office and local elected officials.
LEAP is currently in the process of filing articles of incorporation with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and in the process of filing for tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.
With the approval of the MOU, City and County staff expect to have an operating company selected before the end of November and to launch the program as early as January 2010.
While City Councilors and County Supervisors are enthusiastic about the environmental benefits and job opportunities with the implementation of the LEAP program, the issue of funding was brought into question by Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna).
“This is just another method of creating bigger government that we do all the time,” said Boyd.
However, the Board agreed that the LEAP program will not have any budgetary impact at this time.
“This is not any undertaking to spend any dollars by Albemarle County,” said Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett). “That would be a separate decision at a future time if in fact it ever came up.”
“I look forward to supporting the initiative that brings half a million dollars of money into our community to help us facilitate the creation of a program that will result in tremendous economic benefit to a large number of County residents by making it possible for them to reduce their energy cost burdens,” said David Slutzky (Rio).
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST
01:00 – City Council meeting
02:31 – Climate protection programs coordinator Cynthia Adams presents
06:17 – Councilor Satyendra Huja asks how the City and County are involved with the new board agency
08:17 – Councilor David Brown moves approval the memorandum of understanding
08:24 – Board of Supervisors meeting
13:30 – Supervisor Ken Boyd comments that he would like to add a “whereas” to the MOU that it is a non-taxpayer funded organization
14:25 – Supervisor David Slutzky objects to addition
16:00 – Supervisor Dennis Rooker moves approval of the memorandum of understanding
18:20 – Board of Supervisors pass MOU unanimously