Genrich celebrates Earth Day with grant news

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By Heather Graves
Editor


GREEN BAY – The City of Green Bay was right to celebrate Earth Day, April 22, when it announced it had received an $87,000 block energy planning grant from The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC).

“I think we were the second highest grant request in this category,” Genrich said. “So a real credit to Resilience Coordinator Melissa Schmitz and the Sustainability Commission for winning this grant for the City of Green Bay and getting us on this realistic path to 100% renewable energy by 2050.”

The PSC awarded $10 million in funding under the Energy Innovation Grants Program, ranging from $26,136 to $1 million in three different categories: Renewable Energy and Energy Storage, Comprehensive Energy Planning and energy efficiency and demand response.

Grants were awarded to 46 projects.

“This grant will really allow us to be a lot more strategic and take things to another level by bringing a lot more renewable energy to the City of Green Bay and the community as a whole,” Genrich said.

He said the city announced the Green Bay Metro Fire Station No. 5 grant because of its recently installed solar panels.

“We have five solar panels on the roof,” Genrich said. “They were made last summer. At the time, the council committed to dedicating some of those resources (excess stadium tax) to renewable energy upgrades… And so it’s kind of a demonstration of some of the work that we have done.

The grant announcement came just days after the city’s sustainability committee presented a long-term plan of attack to achieve the goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.

“I was really pleased to be one of the first presentations before our newly sworn city council,” said Sustainable Development Commission Chairman Seth Hoffmeister. “And I was even happier to be well received and that our work plan was adopted unanimously. On this Earth Day today, this is an important step forward and the work that we have been doing for years in the City of Green Bay, we have set out to address… very impactful things that we can do as a community. One of them is about climate resilience. We know that if we switch to 100% clean energy today, we’re still going to feel the effects of climate change… There has to be a better way, and by finding it now before it’s too late, we can do it… It’s going to take all of us, but the work we’ve done over the past four years shows me that we’re just getting started. And I look forward to continuing to move forward with all of you in creating this climate action plan.

Schmitz said the grant money will be used to create a community energy and decarbonization plan.

“It will contain concrete steps on how we can achieve our clean energy goals by 2050,” she said. “As three of the largest users of energy – Green Bay Water Utility, the city as a whole and Green Bay Metro Transit, we believe that taking this collaborative approach to increasing the success of our community and truly implementing a plan to move forward. We recognize that energy planning and environmental justice must be addressed together.

Schmitz said the first phase of the project will focus on seeking community feedback and soliciting community awareness.

“We’ve identified a variety of ways to be able to do that,” she said. “We will also work with our consulting partners who also had a grant with us, Slipstream (Group, Inc.), who have extensive experience in public outreach and developing educational materials and working with municipalities in all of Wisconsin and doing comprehensive energy planning.

Schmitz said the next phase will include a baseline energy compilation.

“So we’re going to engage with the Wisconsin public service with this, to really get a full picture of our community’s energy use, from the business sector to the residential sector as well,” she said. “And after that, we’re going to do a series of very in-depth energy audits at different facilities across the city, including our water utility, and we’ll identify key energy and decarbonization opportunities, including transportation opportunities in common for electrification.”

Schmitz said a final report will be created to serve as a roadmap for implementing changes over the next 10 to 20 years.

She said so far the city’s clean energy efforts have received tremendous community support from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC). .

“As partners with us, UWGB and NWTC students will have hands-on learning opportunities through this project by performing energy audits, solar site assessments, and helping the city compile some data, which which requires a lot of work. So we really thank our partners with these educational institutions,” Schmitz said.

She said her department will lead the implementation and management of the grant project.

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