BRADENTON -- About 50 people showed up to the Bradenton City Council chambers Wednesday to provide input on strategies and initiatives the city should take toward energy efficiency and conservation -- ideas that will eventually be drafted into a Clean Energy Policy.
The city's push toward energy efficiency is being propelled by a $544,500 Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that was awarded to Bradenton in 2009.
At the first of four public meetings, residents suggested adopting programs that would help reduce utility bills, providing incentives to developers for constructing environmentally friendly buildings, and taking overall "common sense" approaches.
Using grant money, the city has already installed a solar panel at city hall that is giving the city approximately $1,000 in energy savings each month, said Kelly Klepper, senior planner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., a consultant hired by the city to help draft the energy policy.
"This is something that you're doing to get tax dollars back into the community," Klepper said.
A Florida Power & Light Company representative reminded the attendees that the electric company provides free residential and commercial energy audits at the customers' request.
Tim Polk, Bradenton's planning and community development director, said the city's redevelopment codes provide bonuses to developers for environmentally friendly designs.
Bradley Hawkins, a consultant for Oakmont Capital Resources, said placing air conditioners in spaces especially designated for them instead of attics or garages was a viable option that helps conserve energy.
About eight Tea Party Manatee members attended the meeting and questioned Klepper and Polk about the grant's link to "Agenda 21" -- a United Nations plan of action designed for countries to implement sustainability measures.
Ken Terry, member of Tea Party Manatee, said he was concerned the United Nations would have oversight over the city's energy conservation approaches. Klepper responded that there is no connection between the grant and the United Nations.
Three more public meetings are scheduled for September before its presented before the city council as a resolution.