CAPE MAY — After an energy audit that saved tens of thousands of dollars, the city and is now promoting a seminar at Convention Hall next week to give businesses a chance to do the same thing.

Mayor Ed Mahaney said emails have been sent to about 200 local businesses inviting them to attend the free breakfast seminar Thursday, Oct. 11. It begins at 9 a.m. and is expected to last about two hours. Mahaney said the seminar will be quick because many businesses are shorthanded this time of year and owners have to get back to work.

“They will do a PowerPoint to show what they did for the city and what they can do for you,” Mahaney said.

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The city used the program to get an energy audit and was reimbursed for $90,000 worth of improvements made to the Fire House, City Hall, Public Works and the Franklin Street School. Mahaney said the city is also saving $25,000 per year in energy costs from the improvements.

Denise Hurlburt, an energy consultant with the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, said the program called Direct Install can fund as much as 70 percent of the cost of energy-saving improvements for business owners, who then get 100 percent of the energy savings the improvements bring.

“It started with municipalities, but now it’s open to all commercial businesses that used 150 kilowatts or less in the past 12 months,” said Hurlburt, noting doctor’s offices, real estate firms, florists and even a Dairy Queen are among the businesses that have taken advantage of the program.

The improvements covered include lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration, motors, natural gas, and variable frequency drives. There is a $75,000 cap on each project, which are typically done within 90 days of the energy assessment.

Hurlburt said the program, which is sponsored in part by South Jersey Industries in this region, will be explained and applications will be available at the seminar. After applying, utility bills must be submitted showing energy use over the past year. A free energy assessment of the building is then conducted to come up with potential improvements.

“If the state approves it, the state will pay 70 percent of the costs,” Hurlburt said.

For businesses that do not qualify, Hurlburt said there may be other programs that can help them and they will be explained.

Mahaney said the major improvement the city made was to replace antiquated boilers at the Fire House and Public Works, which is reducing utility bills at those buildings.

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