While the front of Park Theatre has dramatically changed in the last couple of weeks, the wheels of government are still slowly turning.
Vice Mayor Ben Newman says he recently attended a meeting at the Upper Cumberland Development District and discussed a grant opportunity that might help pay some of the renovation cost.
“A lady was there from Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation,” said Newman. “She spoke about the Tennessee Valley Authority having some type of lawsuit and part of their settlement was they have to give away grants. It’s a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program.”
On Dec. 3, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced a second offering of the Clean Tennessee Energy Grants, totaling $2.25 million to fund energy efficiency projects for municipal governments, county governments, utility districts, and other similar entities across Tennessee.
Funding for the projects comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with TVA. Under the consent decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state, approximately $5.25 million per year.
As part of the grant program’s initial offering, $5.3 million was awarded in 2012 to a variety of projects within state government, municipalities, utilities, state colleges and universities and communities throughout the state.
The Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program provides financial assistance to purchase, install and construct energy projects. Eligible categories of the grant program include:
• Cleaner Alternative Energy — biomass, geothermal, solar, wind.
• Energy Conservation — lighting, HVAC improvements, improved fuel efficiency, insulation, idling minimization
• Air Quality Improvement — reduction in greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen, hazardous air pollutants.
The maximum grant amount per project is $250,000 and requires a 50 percent match from the applicant. Grant recipients will be selected with careful consideration given to the projects that meet the selection criteria and express the greatest need.
Park Theatre needs new light fixtures and a new HVAC system, according to Newman.
“We could use the grant money for an HVAC system, if we can get approved,” Newman said. “I think we need to pursue this. It would be a cost savings for the city and make the theatre more efficient down the road.”
The city has a limited window in which to try to cash in as pre-applications must be in by Jan. 31. Recipients are expected to be announced by mid-May.