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NMC receives energy grant from Office of Insular Affairs (October 25, 2011)

The Northern Marianas College was recently awarded an energy grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, to identify, assess, and analyze the College’s energy deficiencies and maintenance-related needs.

The grant is provided through the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program and is aimed towards improving the performance of the College’s energy infrastructure. The grant also supports planning to make upgrades and improvements to the campus over time, building systems of sustainable energy, and hiring personnel to maintain these facilities.

CNMI Public Law 15-23, amended by P.L. 15-87, provides that due to the rising costs of fuel prices worldwide, the CNMI must reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and find ways to conserve energy and explore alternative energy sources. The grant was written based upon observations and assessments of the direction that the College is taking relative to facility, conservation, and energy-related maintenance, in addition to the public laws.

“The long-term goal is to create a green energy worker-training program that will place graduates into high growth and emerging industry sections within the Commonwealth,” said Geri Willis, Program Manager and author of the grant proposal.

The energy grant funding will provide for qualified personnel to do a facility overview and assessment of current conditions at the College. This includes hands-on training and education of maintenance and facilities staff for proper identification and corrective action measures to promote reduced maintenance and facilities operations costs.

Willis added, “Another objective is to include technology with virtual desktops transforming classrooms and labs into energy efficient systems, ultimately creating an Energy Center for Excellence at the College.”

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tony Babauta and the Department of the Interior have been instrumental in providing assistance for alternative energy and conservation needs for the CNMI, according to Willis.

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