(#256) – One of most troubling recent developments in the campaign to bring the economic, health and environmental benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy to our region is the proliferation of incentive programs and companies hired to educate homeowners and businesses about them. The problem lies in the low level of standards for outcomes, the failure of the large funding authorities to connect with and support local organizations and the mistaken notion that making contact with x number of people at meetings or mailings, is sufficient.
In the dangerous fossil and nuclear fuel world we live in, education and community outreach without a detailed, customized plan of action that does not calibrate the requirements, opportunities and resources of each local site, wastes a lot of time and money as well as creates confusion about what can and needs to be done. The end result is that many, if not a majority of current efforts and expenditures to be energy efficient and install renewable energy systems, will require upgrading within a few years or as the saying goes, paying twice for what many claim is still unaffordable in the first instance.
Many of these programs come with significant monetary incentives and site energy surveys that are relatively easy to understand. Many of these programs also subsidize energy efficiency products that are close to if not already obsolete or far less efficient than other more affordable products. Indoor and outdoor lighting is a major example of this. Insulation products and install methods as well as feel-good surveys that result in lower energy consumption and cost by 20% are examples of lost opportunities to get it right the first time. Major energy institutions are involved in funding these efforts. We need to do much better and the first time around.
It is possible, for instance, to convert New York States’ energy infrastructure for all purposes, electricity, transportation, heating-cooling-ventilation (hvac), and industrial purposes to one provided entirely by the clean, renewable, in-state resources of solar, water and wind. It can be accomplished in two decades, cost less, reduce premature deaths caused by fossil fuel pollution (NYS – 4000/y) and save billions of dollars in environmental and commercial damage. These are stunning loses that can be avoided by transitioning to a non-combusting, electricity based economy in which energy dollars stay local in contrast to current export of 76 cents of every energy dollar leaving the state.
Many continue to argue that renewables cannot be counted on because of the variability of power generation. Others argue that renewables remain too expensive. Neither are true today. Energy matching management systems based entirely on renewable energy generation are available and the cost of renewable energy is market competitive and future costs will be lower. On the other hand, transportation fuels have increased by more than 20% a year and have billions of lethal and environmental costs.
Call the Office of Sustainable Energy (845-807-0578) for advice on reducing your energy consumption most efficiently and shifting as much of your energy use to renewable sources.