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April 22, 2008

DiNapoli Report Highlights “Green” Best Practices
for Local Governments

Clean Generation; Efficiency Seen as Most Effective Means of Lowering Energy Costs and Reducing Emissions

Municipalities across New York State are lowering costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through innovative energy efficiency and generation programs according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Local governments are New York’s learning laboratories for identifying and testing new ways of conserving energy while maintaining and even expanding capacity,” DiNapoli said. “Electricity generation has historically been a lose-lose for New York and its environment: electricity costs can account for more as much as 10 percent of a municipality’s operating budget while conventional generation accounts for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. This report gives our municipalities valuable information they can use to cut energy costs and protect our State’s fragile environment.”

According to the DiNapoli report, local government best practices generally fall into one of three areas: energy conservation and efficiency; alternative power generation; and actions that support a comprehensive commitment to sustainability. The report encourages local governments to incorporate these best practices into their long-term planning initiatives and highlights several municipalities that have already lowered emissions and costs through these efforts.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency:
At 15.27 cents per kilowatt hour, New York has the third highest average electric rate and the second highest energy costs in the nation. The State’s average electric rate has risen 63 percent since 1990. To improve efficiency and lower costs, the DiNapoli report encourages municipalities to initiate a “power management” audit to assess the amount of electricity used at any point in time. Currently 15 percent of New York’s public schools and more than 50 cities and counties have conducted this type of audit. The report recommends:

  • Turning off underused copy machines
  • Replacing energy-inefficient equipment
  • Encouraging behavioral changes (such as turning off monitors at the end of the day)
  • Installing separate electric power meters on wastewater treatment plants to determine where conservation efforts will yield the best results
  • Using energy performance contracting (EPC) to finance energy projects for local government facilities

Alternative Power Generation:
In 2004, New York State’s electricity generation accounted for approximately 62.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of driving 12.2 million cars for a year. In order to reduce emissions and meet the statewide goal of decreasing electricity demand by 15 percent by 2015 many municipalities have found ways to reduce reliance on traditional energy sources by installing technologies that generate energy through renewable sources. This includes using zoning and local permitting to allow for greater investment in renewable energy, owning a utility outright or even self-generation of energy from renewable sources.

The DiNapoli report cites New York’s 47 community-owned municipal power companies that have been able to significantly lower rates due to low-cost electric purchase contracts with the New York Power Authority. In one example, a local government was able to lower its costs to 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour placing it into the lowest 10 percent of rates in the nation.

Comprehensive Commitment to Sustainability:
Currently, 28 local governments across the State have committed to reducing emissions by 7 percent from their 1990 levels, a reduction equivalent to those required under the Kyoto Protocol. The DiNapoli report highlights sustainability initiatives undertaken by New York municipalities including:

  • Requiring Energy Star standards for all new residences
  • Integrating sustainability and energy efficiency practices into a municipality’s master plan
  • Encouraging energy efficient development through zoning
  • Training municipal employees in resource-efficiency practices
  • Adopting the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards

Comptroller DiNapoli’s Green Initiative:
In order to improve and protect New York's environment, Comptroller DiNapoli launched a 4-part “Green Initiative” for New York State in September 2007. The initiative includes: directing the $154.5 billion Common Retirement Fund to identify profitable “green” investments in clean technologies and renewable energy; modeling environmentally sound operations in the Comptroller’s office and reducing emissions of greenhouse gas pollution; auditing whether state agencies, public authorities and local governments are complying with current environmental and energy requirements; and promoting state policies to grow New York's green economy.

Click here for a copy of the report.



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