County gets $7.3M grant

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's energy conservation efforts got a big boost this week when commissioners accepted stimulus funds.

Officials accepted a $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund energy audits, energy-efficient equipment retrofits, conversion of traffic signals to LED lights and a methane gas waste-to-energy project.

"We reviewed ideas from various departments and submitted the ones that have the largest environmental and economic impact," said Dennis Baxter, the county's engineering coordinator.

The methane gas project, which will use a byproduct at the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center to produce power for an electric generator, will use a $3.5 million Energy and Efficiency Conservation block grant and $5 million from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

The block grant will allow the county to install a receiving facility for restaurants and food processing facilities to drop off fats, oils and grease from grease traps, a press release said. The grease will produce extra methane gas to help power the plant.

"This is another great example of our county staff, Board of Commissioners and congressional delegation members working together to get much-needed stimulus money for Gwinnett," Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said. "We're pleased to be one of the recipients of these Department of Energy funds that will help us reach our goal of reducing annual energy consumption by 20 million kilowatt-hours and lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 15,000 to 20,000 metric tons."