Our excellent Mayor of Newton, MA, Setti Warren cares about our city. The way he cares most is by saving money. One way he saved money was through energy efficiency programs.
These programs are for the city itself, businesses, and residents
…our Energy Smart Newton program and the additional costs-savings and efficiencies we found by becoming the first community in Massachusetts to procure 100% of municipal electricity from green/renewable sources, through the purchase of renewable energy credits (REC’s) to offset the usage of an estimated 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity over the next three years, as well as our receipt of a prestigious Climate Protection Award from the United States Conference of Mayors.
Sounds expensive. But it’s not: it will save $300,000 over the next three years, even after the purchase of RECs.
REC’s will always be controversial because they are indirect — most of our electricity will still come from coal burning plants. But the RECs we pay for are bought at an auction, sold by producers of green energy, thereby lowering their cost and making sustainable energy sources more cost-competitive. This strategy is the basis of the RGGI initiative that Massachusetts is part of (and New Jersey notoriously backed out of, recently), and shares the incentive-shifting properties of either cap and trade, or carbon tax proposals.
Newton also was one of the top five small cities to be recognized for local climate efforts.
While it is quite certain that I see this as an effort that on it’s own will do little, perhaps it’s biggest impact will be that the city is saving money without firing city employees. At some level, one has to think every city and town in the country could get on board with this kind of plan.