Energy Program Named After Kathy Mathias

OCEAN CITY — On the day family and friends solemnly marked the anniversary of the passing of beloved Ocean City resident and long-time public servant, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced a major energy efficiency program for the state’s agriculture and farming industry in her name.

MEA officials on Wednesday announced the Kathleen A.P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program, which will provide grants to farms and businesses in the agriculture sector to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of energy efficiency upgrades, including solar panels and land-based wind turbines for example. Kathy Mathias was the wife of Sen. Jim Mathias and a long-time public servant and municipal employee. She passed away a year ago on Aug. 15 after a long, courageous battle with cancer.

Jim Mathias said yesterday he was approached by Gov. Martin O’Malley during the regular session about naming a bill regarding energy efficiency on Maryland farms in Kathy’s honor, but the bill never passed and he didn’t think any more of it.

“They wanted to start a renewable energy program on the farms and name it after Kathy, but I wasn’t really aware it was moving forward until I heard the MEA announcement on Wednesday,” said Mathias yesterday. “We often talk about how you live your life and how your life can be an inspiration, but to have this announcement come on the very day we were celebrating her eternal life is very special.”

The new MEA program is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings program. Under the program, $1 million in grants will be made available for famers and agricultural businesses to help plan, implement and complete the upgrades.

“This investment in Maryland’s agriculture sector will help our farms and farm businesses save money and energy, while helping the state reach its goal of reducing overall energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015,” said MEA Secretary Malcolm Wolff on Wednesday.

Through the Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency program, MEA will distribute grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 to ease the cost of installing eligible energy efficiency technologies.

“Lauren, Trevor and I are deeply grateful and humbled that Kathy’s inspiration is being memorialized in this important energy grant program,” said Mathias. “Her boundless energy and hope serve as a solid foundation for assisting the energy needs of Maryland’s agricultural industry. I am pleased Maryland has created this program to help farmers become more energy efficient and save money in these tough times and into the future.”