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    Thursday, May 30, 2024

    Neighborhood Assistance Act keeps some utility tax revenue in local area

    Seven nonprofit entities will receive funding for energy efficiency upgrade projects from local public utilities through a state tax credit that utility officials said helps to keep tax dollars in local communities.

    Norwich Public Utilities Board of Public Utilities Commissioners last week approved $40,848 to Otis Library, and $54,000 each to United Community and Family Services and Eastern Connecticut Housing Opportunities, or ECHO.

    Groton Utilities provided $150,000 to two projects, and Bozrah Light & Power, owned by GU, awarded $123,600 to two others. GU awarded $56,116 to the Riverfront Children’s Center in Groton and $93,884 to Sacred Heart School in Groton. BL&P awarded $104,000 to Southeastern Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, or SCADD, in Lebanon and $19,600 to the Avery-Copp Museum Inc. in Groton.

    All the grants were funded through the state Neighborhood Assistance Act. Each year, NPU, GU and BL&P pay state gross revenue taxes from the purchase of natural gas and electricity. The Neighborhood Assistance Act offers tax credits to participants of up to $150,000 per year to be awarded to projects approved by the state, with a statewide cap of $5 million.

    “Once again, NPU is an enthusiastic participant in the Neighborhood Assistance Act, which allows us to support three great community partners with important projects,” NPU General Manager Chris LaRose said in a news release announcing the grants. “Through the NAA, our resources stay here in Norwich and make an immediate impact in our community.”

    Since 2015, NPU has contributed nearly $560,000 to Norwich-based nonprofits through the Neighborhood Assistance Act, NPU spokesman Chris Riley said.

    “It’s a great program,” said Daniel Bouges, Groton Utilities manager of communications and community outreach. “We wish more companies would participate. It’s so beneficial to local nonprofits, and it’s money that we would have been paying to the state anyway, so they get the assistance they need, and it doesn’t hurt us financially.”

    Bouges added that the investments also help recipients save money on monthly utility bills. The grant to Riverfront Children’s Center will fund new insulation, replace an entry door and install LED lights. The grant for Sacred Heart School will install energy-efficient heating and air conditioning units in the annex, energy-efficient LED flood lights in the parking lot, replace the hot water heater and part of the roof, Bouges said.

    The grant for SCADD will upgrade the air quality systems at the Lebanon Pines residential dormitories and install a new HVAC system, Bouges said. The grant for the Avery-Copp Museum will install a heat pump mini-split system in the carriage house, where archives and collections are stored. It is the same system installed in the main museum using a previous NAA grant, he said.

    “They will be replacing an inefficient propane furnace, allowing them to reduce their carbon footprint by using less fuel, and to take better care of the collection by providing efficient heating and cooling in the building,” Bouges said.

    The $40,848 NPU grant to Otis Library will help fund a second phase of upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Facility Director Robert Farwell said the library will create independent air controls for each of its sections, including the children’s section, community meeting rooms, offices and other public areas. This will make them more efficient and more comfortable, he said.

    NPU will provide $54,000 to ECHO to help replace about 80 large, inefficient 1980s windows at the Elizabeth Street Apartments, a 29-unit affordable housing complex in a former school.

    ECHO past President and consultant Peter Battles said NPU has been a big supporter of the agency “for years and years and years,” three times through the NAA and also with a housing tax credit program.

    United Community and Family Services will receive $54,000 toward the second phase of a major energy efficiency upgrade at the administrative offices in the historic Samuel Huntington Home at 34 E. Town St., Norwich. The grant will help pay to replace 20 “really old and not air-tight” windows, UCFS President and CEO Jennifer Granger said.

    She thanked NPU for grants totaling $200,000 over the past three years toward the overall upgrade project. The building is in the Norwichtown Historic District, and exterior upgrades require approval by the Historic District Commission.

    “Everything is going to create a more modernized HVAC, energy efficient building, while maintaining the historic character of the building, which we are proud to be caretakers of,” Granger said.



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