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Penn State partners with Fayette County to enhance local energy efficiency

6/18/2010 —
As energy rate caps continue to come off across Pennsylvania, communities and their residents are becoming increasingly concerned about energy consumption. A $4.1 million federal grant awarded to Fayette County, Pa., will create and expand local energy efficiency programs in the community. The grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which was awarded to the county on June 11, was made possible by application assistance from Penn State Outreach and Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus.

In recent years, the county has seen its share of challenges. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry lists the unemployment rate for April 2010 as 10.2 percent. A 2008 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a poverty rate of 20.8 percent.

“This program will help improve lifestyles, increase understanding about energy consumption and create an energy saving mentality for residents in our county,” said Joe Segilia, director of Outreach and Continuing Education at Penn State Fayette.

The main goals of the grant will be to significantly and permanently reduce energy consumption across Fayette County, provide employment opportunities for local residents to enter energy efficiency careers and to serve as an example for other communities that wish to replicate a similar strategy.

Specifically, this will be done through the following initiatives:
  • Educate consumers on how to assess their current energy consumption
  • Identify opportunities for energy reduction
  • Offer certification and training programs at Penn State Fayette that will allow students to conduct community energy assessments
  • Provide financial help for energy assessments
  • Assist with implementation of cost saving changes

“This is a great example of how Penn State can utilize the resources of University Park and leverage a campus like Fayette, to address the needs of a local community,” said Wayne Figurelle, director of the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), the Penn State Outreach unit that led the application process. “We hope to use this collaboration with Fayette County as a model for future relationships with other communities across the state.”

Fayette County was one of 20 recipients across the country, and the only one in Pennsylvania, to receive money from the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program this month, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Penn State Outreach is the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.
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