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Energy Office Tells St. John, 'Call On Us'

May 7, 2009 — Residents planning to incorporate energy-saving measures in their home can give the V.I. Energy Office a call for help in drawing them up, Director Bevan Smith urged Thursday at a public meeting held at the Legislature building on St. John.
"They'll come out and look at your plans and give you a good idea of what you can do," he said, gesturing to Energy Office staff.
Smith was responding to St. John resident Ronnie Jones, who is planning an 18-unit apartment complex at Estate Susannaberg and was seeking advice.
"Where do I start? Who do I call and ask?" Jones asked.
Jones was one of six residents who spoke at the meeting called by the Energy Office to outline programs planned under the federal Stimulus Funds money coming to the territory. (See "Energy Office Spreads Word On Using Stimulus Funds.")
Most of the questions Thursday concerned the application process for various programs. About 20 people attended the meeting.
According to Smith, the Energy Office expects to get $20.6 million for its energy program, $1.4 million under the weatherization program and $9.6 million in energy efficient block grants.
After hearing Smith discuss the department's plans, Jeff Smith, usually called Solar Jeff because he owns a solar company, offered his assistance in ensuring that the money is spent "very, very wisely."
He spoke about the solar hot water systems installed on the roofs of the Bovoni public housing community on St. Thomas that don't work.
"I'm told the plumbing and wiring never worked. It's egg on our face," he said.
After Jeff Smith noted that it would take training to make sure there were sufficient people available to install solar systems, the Energy Office director said that a program would be implemented to train 60 people with the hope of retaining 40 of them.
"I want to have a separate training program for St. John. It's not a promise, but I'll try my best," Bevan Smith said.
The Energy Office also hopes to purchases systems for the trainees to install at non-profit agencies, Bevan Smith said.
Jeff Smith urged the Energy Office to advertise its services better, which prompted Bevan Smith to note that it would be sharing space with the V.I. Cooperative Extension Service in a trailer located near the Motor Vehicle Bureau.
Bevan Smith suggested that Jeff Smith write to Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls to ask him to finish fixing up the trailer so the Energy Office could move in.
To get assistance in planning an energy efficient home, residents can call the Energy Office at 714-9530.

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