The Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NWEAC) will host the 2012 Regional Leadership Summit, bringing together an influential group of more than 150 local municipal leaders and energy activists for an evening dedicated to advancing regional sustainability initiatives.
In alignment with the Governor’s Cleaner Greener Communities initiative, the summit’s goal is to support a vibrant and sustainable regional economy that creates jobs, generates substantial savings and strengthens the quality of life we enjoy in our Westchester municipalities.
Demonstrating the possibilities of innovative cross-municipal cooperation to reducing residential energy use, elected leaders will also take the Lead by Example Pledge to participate in the Energize New York program — an effort to help homeowners reap the benefits of home energy efficiency in a time of record energy costs. The pledge is a commitment to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging homeowners to complete a home energy assessment and reduce home energy waste.
More than 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Westchester County come from homes, but by signing up for home assessments and following through with the recommended upgrades, homeowners have the potential to significantly reduce home emissions and energy costs by an average of $1,000 each year. The county as a whole has the capacity to save more than $52 Million in residential energy costs through the Energize New York program.
The event will take place on Thursday, March 29, at the Ossining Public Library in Ossining, N.Y. For more information, visit www.cleanergreenerny.org.
President Obama’s State of the Union address included several strong statements on America’s energy future. The president didn’t shy away from the opportunity to tout his successes and ask for more.
“Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it,” Obama said.
Here at SmartPower, we support the president’s message that a diversified approach toward a clean economy is both ideal and achievable. Environmentalists may have cringed at Obama’s remarks about oil and natural gas development, but if we are to ever get to the point where we can rely only on cheap, clean and renewable sources, we must acknowledge that it requires a thoughtful transition with a varied approach.
The following is a list of our top 5 energy quotes from last night’s State of the Union address, starting with this “all-of-the-above strategy”:
1. ”With only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. A strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.”
This is important. In order to make the smoothest transition possible to a clean economy, we must be aware of prices and jobs. Renewables are already seeing victories in both of these regards — the falling price of solar indicates a promising future for cost-competitiveness and increased development (JOBS). But we must not be distracted by industry blunders like Solyndra. Just as the president said, “some companies fail”:
2. “Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. … I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.”
If the United States is to become an industry leader, it has to step up and lead. Right now, we are in the race, but we are feeling the heat from China and Germany — both with strong innovation and manufacturing in clean energy resources. If we are not going to cede the wind, solar or battery industries to either of these countries, then we must learn from them. We must commit ourselves to the promise of clean energy.
3. We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs.
This is the commitment to the promise of clean energy that we must make. We must even the playing field and invest as much in the clean energy industry as we do in fossil fuels. As Obama makes clear, it’s not about the politics. It’s about this country’s future as an innovator and leader:
4. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well, tonight, I will. I’m directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history - with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.
This administration is willing to act. In fact, it already has. The Department of Defense isn’t wasting any time developing a renewable energy strategy that addresses issues of cost and security. Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about costs:
5. The easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.
We’ve saved the best for last. President Obama used this remark to make a point about cutting businesses’ energy costs by making building efficiency upgrades. Yes, it’s true that we can lower businesses’ energy bills by more that $100 billion with simple upgrades, but it’s also true that homeowners have just as much, if not more to save.
Clean energy and energy efficiency haven’t moved to the forefront of the global energy discussion because they are expensive. It’s just the opposite.
In the not-so-far future, the day will arrive when we have an energy portfolio comprised of renewable, reliable, clean and cheap energy. If we act now, we will see this day sooner than later.
…And that’s just in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to NPR:
That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.
Why does it cost so much? Consider the location. Getting fuel to some of the most remote, land-locked sites takes 18 days on “roads that are sometimes little more than ‘improved goat trails.’” And it’s dangerous: an NPR source estimates that more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which are typically considered prime targets for insurgents.
Making military structures - often open tents, in the middle of a 125-degree desert - more efficient could cut some of these costs. But the bigger question is whether these high costs for basic survival of American troops are sustainable over the long term, especially with so many pressing problems lacking federal dollars here at home.
PHOTO: Air conditioners keep tents cool on a military base in Iraq. Via NPR.org.