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Going green returns big bucks to Cottage Grove

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey accepts a $52,000 check from Xcel Energy representatives Jake Sedlacek and Jennifer Abbott. The city recently received the rebate as part of Xcel's Energy Assistance program. (Submitted photo)

The city’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly have paid off, literally.

For its commitment to going green, Xcel Energy presented the city of Cottage Grove with a check for $52,590. The rebate was part of the company’s Energy Assistance program.

During early discussions regarding the new City Hall, city staff worked with Xcel Energy to become part of the Energy Assistance program, which not only offers tools to becoming a more energy efficient city but also rewards the city’s commitment with a rebate check, a “very important piece” of the agreement, City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said.

“The program assisted us and our agents in designing a building that has more energy efficient lighting, windows and other energy efficient components,” Schroeder said.

The city first partnered with Xcel Energy in 2010 when conceptual designs for the new City Hall were presented. After receiving the green light from the city’s environmental commission, the City Council approved the energy enhancements in May 2011. While the proposed enhancements were roughly $99,000 above the city’s original budget, being part of the Energy Assistance program qualified the city for a rebate.

“It was a revenue to the construction budget, the same as other grants we received for the project,” Schroeder said. “Rebates (and) grants are one of the reasons we didn’t have to ‘borrow’ as much as we originally projected, as we did not budget for any grants. The project also just plain costs less than we originally estimated.”

Jennifer Abbott, account manager for Xcel Energy, presented the rebate to the city earlier this month and detailed the savings to the city.

The energy enhancements made to the new City Hall garnered a savings of 250,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year and 23,000 therms of natural gas per year. Based on those numbers, Abbott said, the kilowatt savings could fuel 24 homes for one year and the therms savings could heat 39 homes for one year.

“Those savings are ongoing and they are quite significant,” she added. “We look at anything that is at state code (for energy savings), which is all any (building) has to meet. But this building came in 52 percent above that. That’s excellent.”

Energy efficient enhancements at the new City Hall include a rainwater runoff collection system, which reuses rainwater collected on the roof and saves roughly 570,000 gallons of aquifer water per year, sustainable building design, and sustainable business practices, such as recycling and using iPads versus printing large packets.

The rebate check is a revenue to the construction budget and “is an indirect benefit to the general fund,” Schroeder added.

“One of the things staff talked a lot about during the process of building this building was energy efficiency,” Mayor Myron Bailey said. “We appreciate the money we got back in the interest of the environment and natural resources.”