Energize Delaware gains traction as one-stop resource to save money, create jobs and improve the environment
Energize Delaware is an initiative of the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), an innovative nonprofit providing Delawareans a one-stop resource for low and no-cost steps to save thousands on energy bills, boost the economy and improve the environment through new clean energy sources. The Energize Delaware programs will focus on energy efficiencies and the use of renewable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal.
Sen. Harris McDowell, whose legislation created the SEU, will speak at a Green Drinks Friday tonight on the one-month anniversary of the SEU’s Energize Delaware program and October’s Energy Awareness month. “The appliance program is just a start. Once residents and businesses see the SEU’s full range of options to save money and improve the environment, they take more action and collectively become a major force for change,” said McDowell.
Green Drinks is a monthly networking opportunity for people interested in energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and other forms of green living. Friday’s event featuring remarks with Senator McDowell starts at 5:30 pm at The Delaware Center for Horticulture (DeHort.org).
McDowell, who recently ended a one-year term as Chair of the National Conference of State Legislature’s energy committee, said that per capita Delaware uses more energy than any of its neighboring states and pays more for its energy. “We have the opportunity to not only reverse this condition, but pioneer a much smarter way of doing business. Sustainable energy is the largest, cheapest, cleanest way to save money and create in-state jobs.”
The SEU has received national attention, noted as a innovative economic and environmental solution by the Vice President’s task force on the middle class, the Center for American Progress, and IEEE’s Spectrum - the magazine of record for technology engineers. Several state and municipal governments are studying Delaware’s comprehensive approach to achieving significant dollar savings, job creation, and improvements to the environment.
Programs to be launched throughout 2009 and the start of 2010 will include:
ENERGY STAR® Appliance Rebates, providing “cash for clunkers” type incentives for homeowners to replace energy-gorging old appliances with updated high efficiency household appliances. Commercial/Industrial Lighting, which will include rebates for businesses installing high efficiency lighting.
Renewable Energy Grants, which will include rebates for renewable energy sources located at home and business sites.
Sustainable Communities Initiative, a community-level program to empower neighbors to tap energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.
Comprehensive Home Performance Initiative, providing a top-to-bottom approach to efficiency and clean energy sources in Delaware homes. This initiative is slated for 2010.
McDowell says he expects education to be the key to the success of Energize Delaware and the state’s economic recovery. “Right now, it is very difficult for Delawareans to know the real effect of our actions or inactions in our homes and places of business. But we are on the cusp of a new information revolution coming in the form of a dramatic increase in public awareness, which will lead to a much greater sense of urgency to generate bigger, faster savings right now.”
The Energize Delaware effort researched energy use in the state and surveyed Delawareans’ attitudes toward sustainable energy. The findings have identified key opportunities for saving money and energy and tapping renewable clean energy sources:
·41 percent of homes in the state are more than 30 years old. Simply sealing and insulating these homes could save up to 30 percent or about $700 on heating and cooling bills.
·Two-thirds of homeowners identified a need to make one or more energy efficiency improvements, but only 42 percent plan to take action. Similar gaps persist among business owners.
·Homeowners and businesses cite lack of money as the number one barrier to achieving more energy efficient homes and businesses and tapping clean energy sources.
·Refrigeration represents 65 percent of energy use in Delaware grocery stores and restaurants. Upgrades could save up to 35 percent on annual utility bills.
SEU’s Energize Delaware programs for residents and businesses are all focused on reaching a set of ambitious goals, including reducing 30 percent of the energy consumption for each participant by 2015, reducing state CO2 emissions by 2020 and installing more than 300 MW of renewable energy – including geothermal, wind, solar, electric and solar thermal – located at homes and businesses by 2019.
SEU’s Energize Delaware will use no new state taxpayer money. It is a nonprofit supported by tax-exempt bonds and will be self sustaining through savings in energy initiatives and investing a portion of the federal economic stimulus package devoted to efficiency and renewable energy.