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Next phase of HBEER featured in The Lane Report

April 2, 2014   |   School

Groundbreaking in Whitley County, KY. Photo courtesy of The Lane Report
via The Lane Report
Local, state and federal officials joined community leaders Friday for a groundbreaking on the next phase of the energy-efficient Green Valley development in Whitley County.
The development will include 13 Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) units, built by Stardust Cruisers in Monticello, Ky. The units are being funded through a $1 million community development block grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG).
“Quality, affordable housing is an essential resource for every community,” DLG Commissioner Tony Wilder said. “The new ‘green’ HBEER units in Emlyn will not only provide affordable homeownership opportunities, but offer homeowners continued savings through low cost energy bills. The Beshear administration and DLG are proud to be a part of this partnership to build safe, modern housing in Whitley County.”
HBEER is a partnership among Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., the University of Kentucky and Stardust Cruisers to create energy-efficient manufactured housing at the region’s houseboat plants. The project’s goals are to create green jobs, revive the houseboat industry, utilize Kentucky products and provide energy-efficient housing.
“Today’s groundbreaking takes another step toward making Emlyn, Ky., a shining light for other communities to see, and the opportunity to serve as a model of what can be accomplished when you bring together people and organizations committed to reducing the energy cost for homeowners,” Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez said.
With solar power being sold back to the TVA grid, estimated energy costs at current rates are expected to be less than $1.75 per day — which is one-half to one-sixth of energy bills for other housing alternatives. In addition, more than 80 percent of the home value will be derived from products made in Kentucky and Kentucky labor, further increasing the jobs created or saved.
“This 13-unit development brings together two key components of our work: putting Kentuckians to work in good paying manufacturing jobs in the houseboat industry and providing home ownership opportunities to working families in our community,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of KHIC. “This workforce housing would not have been possible without our many partners, who total more than 35 public and private organizations and businesses. In particular, I want to thank Judge Pat White and the Whitley County Fiscal Court, the Department for Local Government, USDA/Rural Development, Kentucky Housing Corp., Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency, Stardust Cruisers, Fahe (Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises), and the University of Kentucky’s College of Design.”
There also was a tour of one of the five near-zero energy homes, which are part of the development. The homes will not only save energy but also generate electricity that will be sold back to the electric utility. The best practices and innovations then will be shared with other affordable home developers.
“This partnership with Kentucky Highlands, to build energy efficient homes, has been a major asset for Whitley County,” said Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. ”Mr. Rickett and his team have worked tirelessly to make sure these homes are top quality. These homes have placed Whitley County on the leading edge of energy efficiency. The Houseboat to Energy Efficient Homes program has not only provided homes with lower utility bills to our residents, but has played a part in saving one of the region’s largest industries and I’m proud to have been a part of this project.”
KHIC’s Southern Tier Housing Corp. is an implementation partner in the Promise Zone, where HBEER is an identified project. In addition, USDA Rural Development’s Strike Zone and the SOAR initiative will include housing components for the region.
Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, founded in 1968 to stimulate economic growth in nine counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, now serves 22 counties in the region and has created more than 18,000 jobs. For more information, visit