The riverside city of Oak Park Heights knows when to take advantage of a good opportunity. The city received an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) in 2009 through the U. S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Oak Park Heights used the EECBG funding to improve its energy efficiency and conservation efforts. The projects not only helped the city save money on energy costs, but also provided community benefits, including educational programs for residents and visitors about energy efficiency.
The city focused much of the EECBG funding on projects at Brekke Park, a site popular among both residents and visitors of the city (pictured above). In August 2010, Brekke Park hosted an energy fair as part of its annual “Party in the Park” and National Night Out, attended by over 450 visitors. EECBG funding supported the energy fair, which showcased opportunities for energy conservation and efficiency, and provided free compact fluorescent bulbs to residents.
All of the lighting structures at the park, including those at the Brekke Park pavilion, are now equipped with high-efficiency LED lighting. This transition has not only saved the city money, but it has also provided relief to the park’s surrounding neighborhood. Prior to the lighting retrofit, the park lighting gave off a terrible glare that disturbed households near the park. Eric Johnson, Oak Park Heights City Administrator, is pleased to report that residents in close proximity to the park are much more comfortable with the new lights. “The LED lights are great because they are neighborhood-friendly but still provide the required lighting for safety.”
EECBG funding also bought nine photovoltaic panels that make up a 2kW solar PV array mounted on Brekke Park’s main pavilion roof. The array is fully integrated into the grid, so the city is able to sell back the energy they make from the panels to offset the electricity costs of the park.
The city used remaining EECBG funds to make a municipal plan, ordinance updates, and a greenhouse gas baseline inventory. The actions completed by the city highlight the importance of a multifaceted approach to energy efficiency and conservation. The LED lights on the Brekke Park pavilion addressed an energy issue and a quality of life issue, while the energy fair raised awareness about actions residents could take to reduce their energy consumption. As a result, the people of Oak Park Heights are thinking about how the choices they make now will affect residents in the coming decades.
- City of Oak Park Heights, Washington County
- Lighting Total Cost: $27,793
- Solar Total Cost: $37,840
- EECBG Grant: $37,840
- Xcel Rebates: $4,900
- Solar photovoltaic (PV)
- LED lighting
- Energy Efficiency
- The surrounding neighborhood of the park has reduced glare from the parks at night, and the city is saving money through reduced energy costs
About the Local Government Energy Action Series:
This year-long effort tells the stories of nearly 50 Minnesota municipalities, counties, and schools; and the tangible results of their energy-saving efforts to inspire others to take their own actions. See all stories in this series >>
Local Government Energy Action is brought to you by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.
Dan Thiede is the Communications Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTs, at the University of Minnesota. CERTs works to advance the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities across Minnesota by helping people learn, connect, and act.