It was no ordinary morning in University Park Thursday, when news vans and several cars parked alongside the 4000 block of College Heights Drive, in order to set up for a on the lawn outside a home.
Julie Ainsworth and Tom Wachs, of 4004 College Heights Drive, were the hosts to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Dist. 4), representatives from the Maryland Energy Administration and members of the press who wanted to take a peek into their home and see the process around the energy audit they recently received through the town's .
James Otterbacher, of Delaware-based Energy Services Group, explained how the company did their audit of the home, and even took Brown, Edwards and the press into the homeowners' bedroom to show them the proposed work in the attic.
University Park Mayor John Tabori said he was excited about Brown's visit and is glad to see STEP-UP getting more attention.
"We've noticed that as we've done certain things, like putting the signs up (in the yards), there's been a significant bump in participation," Tabori said.
Fifteen percent of the town's population has signed up for an audit - 10 percent of them have completed their audits and 5 percent are in the retrofitting process, he said.
The town would like to see at least 25 percent of the 923 homeowners participate in the program, which will span three years.
“Our adoption rate is pretty high,” Tabori added, noting that even with the many residents that have signed up the town has only used a little more than $100,000 for the program to date.
He said their next goal is to work on a solar energy project with the school system.
Brown commended University Park’s mayor for his leadership and partnership in helping the state pursue its goals of greater energy independence.
“University Park has made tremendous strides and has been a leader in promoting energy efficiency,” Brown said Thursday. “Their STEP-UP program is providing not only funds, but technical support to homeowners, to navigate what can sometimes be a somewhat cumbersome process — to understand these programs and to identify the savings and the assistance that are available.”
“Maryland must continue to lead the way,” he added. “We can't do it as a state alone we need partners in the federal government and in the local government and in the private sector. We need partners in families and communities throughout the state.”
Ainsworth and Wachs said they were happy with the process and the rebates.
“We're just incredibly grateful to be beneficiaries of the STEP-UP Program and the Maryland Energy Administration and if you have any plans to upgrade or improve the energy efficiency of you house this really is the time to do it,” Wachs said. “It's really a superb program.”
Ainsworth added, “This is an example of government working at its best both at the local, federal and state level and we’re so please to be able to take advantage of the generous rebates offered now.”
She said they’ve waited 20 years to do it, but without the rebates they would have continued to wait.
Lauren Swiston, Energy Efficiency Program Manager with the Maryland Energy Administration, also praised University Park’s STEP-UP Program.
“We commend the town of university Park for innovative use of Department of Energy funds which has made the town a statewide leader in home energy upgrades,” Swiston said.
For more information about STEP-UP or to sign up for an audit, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.