Through grant funding, OKI will produce Community Strategic Energy Plans for eight interested local communities in southwest Ohio.  To produce these plans, OKI has partnered with the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.  This project will run through the end of 2019.  The grant award also includes $120,000 as a fund dedicated to implementing objectives of the eight plans. The central idea of this project is to discover what local priorities are related to energy use and infrastructure.

These plans will be generally based on content from the US Department of Energy’s guide on producing a local energy plan.  However, OKI will work with local governments to tailor each plan to the local community’s situation; and each plan will feature robust public input.

A typical Community Strategic Energy Plan will touch upon the following topics:

•             Identify concentrations of inefficient building stock and identify most cost effective improvements to apply to each

•             Gauge local energy burden.  Energy burden is the % of household income spent on energy.

•             Benchmark community-wide energy use by land use / economic sector and by energy type

•             Resiliency of local energy infrastructure– how susceptible is a community’s infrastructure to disruption?

•             Urban heat island effect

•             Energy audit of local government facilities and training on the Portfolio Manager software

•             Analyze the capacity of energy infrastructure to accommodate planned growth

•             Develop locally generated goals and strategies with meaningful public input

•             Identify existing energy efficiency programs that support local goals

With this grant, our region will benefit from the production of eight local community energy plans. These plans will serve as examples of the significance of local energy planning.  We will publicize these efforts, with lessons learned so that other communities can benefit in their own energy planning efforts.

Through work on these plans, OKI will develop knowledge, methods, data, and indicators that can be applied elsewhere in the region.  These will be available as a resource to all OKI partner communities.

The program will feature a $120,000 fund to kick start the implementation of the eight plans produced under the grant program.  This will ensure the plans will not be forgotten on a shelf, but rather generate real benefits in each community.

Finally, this project will result in a much better understanding of something that is currently lacking from the discussion of energy issues – and that is local community priorities.  We have come to understand that things work better when our regional transportation priorities and local land use priorities are mutually aligned.  The same holds true for our energy policies and infrastructure.  It is essential that we develop a locally-driven set of energy priorities and are able to effectively communicate those to everyone involved in the energy field.  Technologies and regulations are changing rapidly.  As a region, we need to develop a voice in that conversation – and that voice starts at the local community level.