Energy program now available city-wide

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — As one of 12 Michigan communities selected to have a neighborhood participate in a state energy-efficiency program, Southgate’s homeowners responded with impressive participation rates.

Last week, Mayor Joseph Kuspa said the offer to participate in the BetterBuildings for Michigan Energy Efficiency grant is now available city-wide.

“The big news is we have it available for the whole city,” Kuspa said. “All of our residents who want this will have that opportunity.”

Kuspa first announced Southgate’s selection to participate in the state program during January’s State of the City address.

The grant awards more than $1 million to Michigan homeowners to perform energy saving audits. Residents pay a $50 fee for the audit and kit, which includes energy-saving devices including programmable thermostats and water-efficient shower heads.

The audit surveys the house with state-of-the-art equipment including infrared cameras to determine the effectiveness of insulation. Depending upon the results, homeowners are offered incentives, discounts of up to 25 percent on upgrades, and cash-back rebates. Kuspa said that, depending upon the financial situation of the homeowner, low- or no-interest loans are made available.

Originally, Kuspa said the program was offered to residents in the Grogan Elementary School area, a grid framed by Northline and Eureka roads on the north and south, and Trenton Road and Fort Street from west to east. Homes in that neighborhood qualified due to age, materials used and building characteristics. Initial response was strong enough that Kuspa said the program was expanded.

“There was a lot of excitement about participation,” Kuspa said. “The Southeast Michigan Energy Office and Suburban Alliance indicated that we had the best response of any community.”

City officials asked about expanding the program, and participating residents were given the chance to refer three city homes outside of the original boundaries for inclusion. Last week, Kuspa said that a funding source was identified to expand the program throughout the city.

Applications for the BetterBuildings grant are available online at the city website (

(James Mitchell can be reached at