Building Local Capacity for Clean Energy and Climate Change Initiatives: An Intergovernmental Partnership Program
*Project reports found below*
Energy prices in Rhode Island are among the highest in the country. On average, Rhode Islanders pay 28% more per million Btu for energy than the nation as a whole (RI State Energy Plan, 2009). Moreover, almost of all Rhode Island's energy supply comes from imported fuels; the money Rhode Island spends on energy flows out of the state's economy.
Rhode Island also faces major consequences from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are warming the planet at a rapid rate. Our coastal location puts the state at jeopardy from sea level rise, flooding, saltwater contamination of drinking water and extreme weather events such as hurricanes.
Under a business as usual scenario, energy use and GHG emissions in Rhode Island are projected to increase steadily, with a concurrent increased flow of dollars out of the state and a host of costly environmental problems. To avoid this, Rhode Island has decided to move aggressively in pursuing energy efficiency through 'least cost procurement' and in developing renewable energy through a large offshore wind project.
Rhode Island also has been an early leader in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Stakeholders Process, an Action Plan was published in July 2002. The Action Plan offered 52 strategies to meet the goals set by the New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers of reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, with a long term goal of reducing emissions by 75% to 85% below current levels. A number of key strategies have been implemented since 2002 including both the Renewable Energy Standard and the RI participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Through this project, we propose to fast track implementation of several other key strategies identified as high priority in the Action Plan that are best addressed at the municipal level. The strategies include energy efficiency initiatives targeting public buildings and facilities, residential efficiency and energy supply and solid waste initiatives (RI Greenhouse Gas Action Plan, 2002).
Project partners will include four RI municipalities: Warwick (project lead; population 86,000); North Providence (population 33,500); East Greenwich (population 13,000); South Kingstown (population 28,000). These four communities have signed on to the EPA Community Energy Challenge and are committed to working together to lower GHG emissions, reduce dependence on imported fuels and save taxpayer dollars.
The fifth project partner will be the University of Rhode Island (URI) Energy Center. The URI Energy Center includes a cross-disciplinary team of URI researchers, graduate and undergraduate students and outreach specialists who work in partnership with national, state and local governments, energy providers and the business community to develop locally-based solutions to global energy issues. As part of the Energy Center, URI undergraduate and graduate students, known as Energy Fellows, receive training in energy issues as well as specialized leadership, communication and outreach training. The Fellows are then provided the opportunity to gain hands-on experience solving real-world problems through guided research and outreach efforts, working alongside faculty, staff and graduate students.
A Steering Committee including representation from each municipality and from the URI Energy Center will coordinate project management and foster communication and dialog between partner groups. For each participating municipality, URI Energy Fellows will be teamed with municipal staff responsible for energy management.
Our primary goal is to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions in municipal and residential buildings. To accomplish this goal, we will engage in the following actions and methods. Further explanation of each method can be found below.
1) Implementing projects that employ energy efficiency, alternative fuels and on-site renewable energy.
Methods: a) Compile data needed to develop a plan to improve energy performance in municipal operations; b) Develop and implement energy management plans for each municipality; c) Conduct feasibility studies for alternative fuel and on-site renewable energy projects.
2) Implementing training and outreach programs to promote energy conservation behavior among municipal employees and local residents.
Methods: a) Research barriers to energy conservation on the part of municipal employees and municipal residents; b) Use the research results to design training and outreach programs to increase knowledge and awareness and decrease energy use on the part of municipal employees and municipal residents.
Municipal Energy Management Guides:
For more information contact Kristina DiSanto at email@example.com or 401.874.4524
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