Four Norwich nonprofits to receive grants from NPU for energy upgrade projects

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Norwich — Four prominent local nonprofits received portions of the $141,478 Neighborhood Assistance Act grants from Norwich Public Utilities on Tuesday in a program that gives the utility tax credits on gross revenue taxes paid on the purchase of natural gas and electricity.

Each grant announced Tuesday will help fund energy efficiency upgrades at Norwich-based nonprofit facilities.

Otis Library Executive Director Robert Farwell thanked NPU and the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners for the $33,028 grant to improve the heating and ventilation system at the library to provide better temperature controls to each portion of the building. The new system is expected to result in significant annual energy cost savings.

Farwell said the HVAC system improvement is the second partnership effort between the library and NPU. Otis previously worked with NPU to replace all fluorescent lights with LEDs. He also thanked NPU staff for prompt response and service when problems arise with utilities. The collective savings, Farwell said, gives the library more money for materials and programs for its 100,000 patrons per year.

United Community and Family Services started operating in Norwich in 1877, and President and CEO Jennifer Granger said that means the health care agency cares for some of the most historic buildings in the city, including the Samuel Huntington homestead mansion on East Town Street — “the big yellow house with the lions guarding the doors,” she said.

UCFS will use the $56,342 Neighborhood Assistance Act grant to help pay for a major heating and ventilation system upgrade to the circa 1783 Huntington house, which houses administrative offices, and replacement of the 70 windows with energy-efficient windows.

Jillian Corbin, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Place, said the facility in the former St. Joseph School at 120 Cliff St. is all too familiar with NPU’s services and staff. When the soup kitchen moved into the building in 2012, the school had been closed for two years. The electric system was obsolete and failing. “We were popping breakers all the time,” she said.

NPU assisted with electricity upgrades, and later partnered with the soup kitchen to replace the fluorescent lights with LEDs. The energy savings already have paid for the cost of that project, Corbin said.

The sewer system repeatedly backed up until NPU made a permanent fix outside in front of the building.

Now, NPU will provide a $28,794 grant to purchase a new energy-efficient dishwasher system to allow St. Vincent to replace the disposable paper goods the soup kitchen has been using for several years, costing $8,400 per year. In 2019, St. Vincent provided more than 78,000 meals at the soup kitchen, which serves breakfast and mid-day meals. Another 15,000 sandwiches and miscellaneous take-out meals were provided.

The fourth grant also is a renewed partnership. NPU will provide $23,314 to the United War Veterans Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Association, which owns the historical William A. Buckingham Memorial building at 307 Main St. The grant will help replace the obsolete furnaces, as well as make a variety of energy efficiency upgrades. The grant is part of an ongoing major renovation of the building, which houses several nonprofit offices.

NPU spokesman Chris Riley said NPU pays about $1 million in gross revenue taxes each year. The Neighborhood Assistance Act tax credit program, run by the state Department of Revenue Services, provides funding for tax-exempt entities through the tax credits for businesses making cash contributions.

c.bessette@theday.com

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