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"Partnering for Climate Change Solutions"
2007 Clean Energy Conference
Targets Municipalities
Mike Winka
By Mike WinkaDirector,
New Jersey Board of Public
Utilities' Office of Clean Energy

people walking across a downtown street
The Township of Montclair, which won the 2005 Clean Energy Municipality of the Year Award, remains committed to increasing its use of renewable energy resources throughout its businesses and communities

 

Recent actions in the U.S. Supreme Court and in the U.S. Congress indicate that federal-level action on climate change may finally be at hand. Fortunately, state and municipal governments in New Jersey and across the country have already shown leadership on the issue and laid the groundwork for federal legislation. New Jersey's 2007 Clean Energy Conference, September 27 and 28 at the New Brunswick Hyatt Regency Hotel, will be a powerful tool for municipalities to enhance their efforts in fostering climate change solutions.

Since assuming leadership in 2006, New Jersey Governor Corzine has brought global warming and energy issues to the forefront, recognizing that the situation is not just a problem to be solved but an economic opportunity to be seized. Governor Jon Corzine is responding to the energy challenges New Jersey facesÑhe has called on the collective resources of state government to complete and implement a comprehensive planning effort called the Energy Master Plan, a long-term energy vision for the state that plans for the state's energy needs through 2020.

This effort is harnessing the ideas of the private sector, citizens, environmental groups and beyond, with the goal of reducing the projected growth of New Jersey's energy use 20 percent by 2020. This broad-based effort will culminate in a focused plan to create a competitive, affordable, reliable and environmentally sound energy future for New Jersey (visit www.nj.gov/emp for more information and to become involved in this effort).

In conjunction with the Energy Master Plan, the Governor signed Executive Order 54, calling for a 20 percent reduction of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction of 2006 greenhouse gas levels by 2050. These goals are linked with New Jersey's Renewable Portfolio Standards adopted last year by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) that require 20 percent of the stateÕs electricity to come from renewable sources by the year 2020.

Through coordinated efforts, New Jersey state government is working in support of the Governor's directive to help communities support these goals by managing their energy use to lower costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Director of Energy Savings John Rhodes has been working since the Governor created his post last year to find efficiencies in state government's operations, facilities, contracts and procurement. So far, his work has realized energy savings of $5 million. In 2006, New Jersey's Clean Energy Program provided $171 million in funds to help Garden State residents, businesses and municipalities install energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. The amount of electricity saved through the Office of Clean Energy efforts alone is enough to provide the annual requirements of approximately 17,000 homes in New Jersey and save Garden State residents and businesses more than $25 million a year in energy costs. This is the equivalent of reducing or avoiding 153,435 metric tons of CO2, the primary gas responsible for global warming.

Municipal leaders are also showing foresight and leadership in this area. They recognize that conservation and renewable energy are not only good for the environment, but are also good for taxpayers.

Townships like Montclair and the Borough of Highland Park, named the NJBPU's 2005 and 2006 Municipal Clean Energy Leaders respectively, are leading by example in the areas of green development, increasing energy efficiency and climate change solutions. Whether purchasing compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled vehicles, upgrading municipal traffic lights to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), or installing photovoltaic solar panels, Montclair and Highland Park stand as model communities for green design, planning and implementation.

Highland Park Mayor Meryl Frank has said that Highland Park boasts dozens of new initiatives which

Arial view of Highland Park, NJ showing river and park
Highland Park, recognized as the 2006 Clean Energy Municipality of the Year, is committed to becoming a ‘Green Community.’ With an emphasis on sustainability, Highland Park remains dedicated to converting to high-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting with solar energy panels as well as planting 75-100 trees throughout its community

will preserve the municipality's natural resources and save thousand of dollars. She's also quick to point out that these initiatives are building a model of government that benefits the municipality's residents and environment now and far into the future.

To help other New Jersey communities follow Highland Park's example, the 2007 Clean Energy Conference and Leadership Awards will feature technical workshops for municipalitiesÑin partnership with the League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute, and the Department of Environmental Protection's Sustainable Communities Program. Together these organizations will assist municipalities in setting energy goals and developing strategies that meet economic and environmental standards, while providing climate change solutions. This year's conference has moved to a two-day format.

The conference also will feature information about the Energy Master Plan and related issues such as demand response, distributed generation, as well as energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Randall Solomon, Executive Director of the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute, recently said that climate and energy issues are among the most critical issues we face and that local governments have a key role to play. He added that New Jersey's Clean Energy Program has been a tremendous asset to New Jersey and encouraged anyone that has an interest in working at the local level on energy or climate issues, or is simply interested in good government and saving money, to attend this fall's Clean Energy Conference.

The theme of this year's Clean Energy Conference is 'Partnering for Climate Change Solutions,' and will highlight proactive strategies and programs available to municipalities as well as showcase communities such as Highland Park and Montclair.

Technical workshops include: clean energy contracting for municipalities; municipal energy audits; and municipal green building and design. In addition, there will be presentations from some of the nation's leading sustainability and clean energy experts who will provide insight into how municipalities can develop clean energy strategies and energy efficiency solutions while saving money on municipal-focused programs provided by the New Jersey Clean Energy Program.

Another technical workshop will focus on 'Municipal Green Design & Planning.' The US Green Building Council, the nation's foremost coalition of leaders who work to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work,is leading this discussion. The session will emphasize ways in which communities can include energy efficiency technologies in their buildings' infrastructures, which will help reduce energy usage and water conservation while also increasing the overall productivity of the structures.

'Clean Energy Contracting for Municipalities' is a workshop that will give participants an opportunity to learn the most cost-effective ways to contract for clean energy services and technologies. It will focus on contracting strategies for solar or energy services and how to write standard contracts.

New Jersey's Clean Energy Program strives to reach all consumers of electricity, including municipalities. It builds programs and creates incentives to reach energy users at a practical level. With programs, such as Home Performance with Energy Star and Municipal Energy Audits. municipal building managers have highly trained professionals and industry experts available to answer questions regarding energy usage, methods to reduce energy consumption and other valuable energy efficiency strategies. The upcoming conference will provide an outstanding opportunity to learn first hand how your community can put theory into practice.

For more information on the 2007 Conference and Leadership Awards, visit www.njcleanenergy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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