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EPA’s Challenge to New England: Promote Greater Energy Efficiency

Release Date: 03/22/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

EPA is challenging New England.

We are throwing down the gauntlet at every city and town in the region.

The goal: To turn the hopes of our citizens for greater energy efficiency into reality and thereby saving us all a lot of money down the road as we also significantly lower pollution.

More precisely, EPA’s regional office in New England has issued the Community Energy Challenge. This is an opportunity for municipalities across the region to identify simple and cost-effective measures that increase energy efficiency as well as increase the use of renewable energy sources.

Every community that chooses to participate in this program can receive EPA assistance in their efforts. And the payoffs for participating in the effort can be big.

New England has among the highest energy costs in the country. A typical town of 25,000 spends more than $1 million annually on electricity and heating fuel for public buildings. EPA estimates that as much as 30 percent of the energy used in such buildings might be wasted. New England’s 1,500 cities, towns and associated school districts together spend almost $1 billion every year on energy for buildings. Their 4,500 public K-12 schools spend more than $500 million on energy – more than on textbooks and computers combined.

Energy use is the number one source of air pollution in New England and the nation. Electricity generation alone emits 48 percent of SO2 and 8 percent of NOx emissions in New England. Nationally, electricity generation accounts for 43 percent of mercury emissions and 40% of carbon dioxide emissions. Burning fossil fuels to produce energy is by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Additionally, energy demand in New England is growing at 2 percent a year. Energy efficiency can dramatically reduce the chances of price increases and supply disruptions. It is also the cheapest and most environmentally sound way to slow this increasing demand. Use of renewable energy sources helps diversify energy supply and supports domestic production.

Every community has opportunities to improve energy efficiency today. Savings of 10 percent or more are well within the reach of every community and school district through sensible management changes and cost-effective upgrades using proven, existing technologies. A 10 percent reduction across New England’s municipal and school buildings could save almost $100 million, prevent billions of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, and save enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes for one year.

And New England already offers a variety of renewable energy choices. Under this new program, EPA is inviting communities to set realistic goals, and then we will work with communities to help them meet those goals.

This really is a win/win opportunity for all of us, and we strongly encourage your city or town to become involved. And who knows? With a little success in New England, this same program could expand nationally, helping all Americans.

EPA stands ready to support your town’s efforts in the Community Energy Challenge with live web-based training and a host of other proven tools for smart energy management. If you are interested in more information, please visit www.epa.gov/ne/eco/energy/energy-challenge.html.

We already can be sure of one thing at the start of this program: every city and town that enters will become a winner.

By Robert W. Varney

    Regional Administrator
    U.S. EPA, New England Office

    Editor's Note: A high-resolution photo of Robert Varney is available (epa.gov/ne/about/images/bobvarney-hr.jpg)

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