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City and non-profit collaborate to save energy


At the last meeting of the Grand Marais City Council, Wednesday, Feb. 24, the main topic of discussion was energy efficiency. A local non-profit, the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) has offered to assist the city in identifying and obtaining grants for energy-related projects in the community. Buck Benson and George Wilkes, co-chairs of the CCLEP board of directors, appeared before the city council with two grant possibilities for consideration. The city was supportive and approved both grant applications.
The first grant would pay to retrofit light fixtures in city-owned buildings, replacing older, inefficient bulbs and ballasts.  The project is estimated to cost between $16,000 and $20,000. The grant asks for $10,000 and the city council authorized a matching contribution of up to $10,000. Energy rebates are expected to cover some of that cost. If the city is awarded the grant, a local electrical contractor would be hired to do the work.
The second grant, for close to $30,000, would fund an energy efficiency planning process for the city of Grand Marais. A consultant would be contracted to work with the city and community to set energy efficiency goals, identify projects, and find ways to implement and monitor those projects. 
 “CCLEP wrote up this proposal,” said Wilkes, “…and the basic idea there, I’m sure you read through it, is that we would kind of go through a process of developing an energy efficiency plan for Grand Marais. It would include residential, commercial, and public buildings. I think the need is clearly there. We’d achieve quite a bit of energy savings throughout the city over the coming years and that would be a lot of money saved, and a lot of work available too.”
The city council will hold a work session in April to discuss ways to work more closely with CCLEP to improve energy efficiency in the community. For more information about the Cook County Local Energy Project, go to their website at