USDA grant supports energy audits

IRONWOOD — Businesses looking to lower energy costs can now make more informed investment decisions thanks to a grant awarded to the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

WUPPDR, which received the grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will help pay up to 75 percent of the cost of commercial energy audits to assist local businesses with identifying opportunities to reduce energy expenses and target resources to pay for energy waste reduction investments.

WUPPDR provides services to the six western counties in the Upper Peninsula, including Iron County.

Partnering with Michigan Energy Options, a nonprofit organization, WUPPDR will use funds to subsidize up to 25 energy audits for small businesses in the Western Upper Peninsula.

Energy audits will review both common energy conservation measures, or ECMs, such as lighting and building envelope improvements, as well as more advanced ECMs such as smart thermostats, building control technologies, and renewable energy.

The $58,875 award through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program will establish the Western Upper Peninsula Energy Audit Program.

The program seeks to help local employers lower their energy bills and become more financially sustainable.