RACINE — The mayor has begun working to fulfill the city’s promise to reduce its carbon footprint.
To start that process, Mayor Cory Mason has received approval from the City of Racine Public Works and Services Committee to apply for an Energy Innovation Grant.
If Racine’s application is successful, no changes, additions or restrictions would be made outright. The grant would be used to assess how big the city’s carbon footprint actually is, according to Mason. Applications are due by June 29.
The Office of Energy Innovation, which supplies the grant, is part of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, an independent regulatory agency that oversees the state’s public utilities.
City Administrator Jim Palenick called the grant “an audit of city energy consumption.”
“We’re trying to set a benchmark,” Mason said. “This is coming on the heels of us becoming a Green Tier Legacy Community.”
Green Tier Legacy Communities is a statewide initiative that aims to help Wisconsinites become healthier via environmental sustainability, particularly through clean water, public transportation, accessible housing, and healthy and affordable local food systems. Green Tier is supported by the Department of Natural Resources, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp.
City Council approved Mason’s request to obtain a Green Tier Charter for Racine on June 5.
Two months previous, City Council voted 14-1 in favor of another environmental request from Mason, this time committing to the Paris Climate Accords that the U.S. began backing out of in June 2017; the country cannot fully withdraw until 2020. By making a nonbinding commitment to the Accords, Mason hopes to reduce Racine’s total emissions by 25 percent.
“We can’t do that if we don’t know where we’re at, now,” Mason said Tuesday.
Palenick estimated that the city would ask for between $50,000 and $75,000 from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. That would only be a slice of the combined $5 million the Energy Innovation Grant plans to distribute to municipalities, manufacturers and schools across Wisconsin this year.
The Office of Energy Innovation, which supplies the grant, is part of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees public utilities.
“The goal of the program is to reduce energy consumption, increase the use of renewables, and basically bring innovation into the market place,” Wisconsin PSC Communications and Legislative Director Matthew Spencer told The Journal Times in an email.
The grant came to be after a loan program run by the Wisconsin PSC ceased operations. Over the next few years, the group hopes to dole out more than $25 million.