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Borough supports looking for grant funds for school heat pump project

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously approved a Feb. 14, 2023 special election date, with the potential for a March 7 runoff.
Sabine Poux
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly narrowly approved a resolution showing support for a potential project looking into heat pump feasibility in remote schools on the peninsula.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly narrowly passed a resolution that supports a potential future project looking into the feasibility of installing heat pumps in schools on the southern part of Kachemak Bay at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The potential project would install a heat pump at one of the schools in southern Kachemak Bay to see if it would save money on heating. A heat pump is a system that works to move heat from cold areas to warm spaces.

According to a memorandum from the borough’s Resilience & Security Advisory Commission, those schools currently rely on transporting propane and heating oil to heat schools in Seldovia, Nanwalek, Port Graham and Tyonek. These schools make up roughly 10% of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s energy budget.

Assembly Member Cindy Ecklund sponsored the resolution after this memorandum didn’t bring forth any action from the borough.

“This resolution was what we thought would help move something along to investigate the cost savings, the cost savings to the school district in this time of money need by them and to work towards the efficiencies,” she said.

Assembly members had many questions about the cost of the project and where funding would come from, as the resolution would include the project in the borough’s budget for the next fiscal year. The assembly amended the resolution to only direct the borough’s administration to find grant funding instead. Borough Mayor Peter Micciche said this wouldn’t really affect the borough’s process for funding these projects.

“I think there are questions,” he said, “but if it were to pass, it's not going to change our activity on evaluating the best systems and ways that folks want to invest in installing those systems.”

The assembly approved the resolution five to four, with assembly members Mike Tupper, Brent Hibbert, Ryan Tunseth and Bill Elam voting no.

Only one ordinance had a dedicated public hearing. In addition to publishing announcements for things like public hearings and meetings in print newspapers, the ordinance allows the borough to give announcements through social media, the borough website and on public and private facilities. The borough will continue to publish notices required by state law to be in local papers like the Peninsula Clarion and Homer News, but Assembly Member Tyson Cox said he likes the additional flexibility of the ordinance.

“It showed me at least how many items are on there, that we have the ability to use other sources as well as traditional sources,” he said, “it doesn't say we have to do one or the other. It says that we can do some of both.”

Tuesday night’s meeting also had a full consent agenda the assembly passed with a single vote. The assembly approved three resolutions. One allows 26 unincorporated communities in the borough to continue participating in Alaska’s Community Assistance Program. Another approved a contract between the borough and Nikiski Senior Citizens Inc. that updated language and provided guidelines on how often audits should be done. The last resolution approves policies to standardize survey equipment.

The assembly introduced and passed numerous ordinances as well. Three ordinances would accept various funds that would go to the city of Seward, five of the borough’s fire and emergency service areas and a woody fuel disposal site in Cooper Landing and Hope. One ordinance would put leftover funds back to an account for the Kachemak Emergency Service Area’s ambulance project. These ordinances will all have a public hearing at the next assembly meeting.

Two ordinances passed that move funds to go towards paying debt from the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Hospital Service Area Capital Project fund, as well as to contribute to a project replacing a boiler at the Central Peninsula Landfill.

The school district superintendent also attended the meeting and gave a quarterly report.

The borough assembly will hold their next meeting at the Seward Community Library on April 16 at 6 p.m.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.