Elk River expands Project Conserve program

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor

The Elk River City Council has given the green light to Phase III of the Project Conserve program.

The Elk River City Council has voted 4-1 to proceed with the third phase of the award-winning Project Conserve program.
The first two rounds have been teaching homeowners simple ways to conserve energy, produce less garbage and reduce their heating, electrical and water bills. Phase III allows additional homeowners to participate, and expands the program to also include businesses and apartment dwellers.
Project Conserve includes free or inexpensive energy audits, informational workshops, access to conservation tools, free consultations and periodic newsletters. Project Conserve is a program of Energy City. Elk River was designated Energy City in 1997.
The city has $10,000 in the proposed 2012 budget for Phase III, in part to train building inspectors to do energy audits at businesses. Elk River Municipal Utilities (ERMU) partners with the city on Project Conserve and has $25,000 budgeted for Phase III.
Council Member Nick Zerwas, who voted against proceeding with Phase III, said there’s no room for extras in the city’s budget. If the project is crucial, he said it should be funded by ERMU. He also doesn’t think the city’s building inspectors should be involved the program at all.
Council Member Jerry Gumphrey said Project Conserve should continue to be a partnership between the city and ERMU.
Council Member Paul Motin said the city is facing a huge cut in the coming year and needs to focus on getting some grants to lower the $10,000 cost.
“I support Energy City but only on a lukewarm basis,” Motin added. “I hate to say it, it may wind up having to end depending on our budget.”
While Motin and a majority of the council agreed to proceed with Phase III, it was with the understanding that the city will try to get some grants to lower the $10,000 cost.
Project Conserve III is scheduled to begin this fall. To get an application, go to www.ci.elk-river.mn.us/ and under Departments click on Community Development, then Environmental, then Project Conserve. Or, call Elk River City Hall at 763-635-1072.

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