"Blue, Gold, and Green: How Delaware State and Local Governments Are Cutting Their Energy Costs"
Feb 19 2010
WILMINGTON – Following a recent hearing on the federal government’s efforts to be more energy efficient, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, held a field hearing in Wilmington, Del., today to examine how state and local governments can save tax payer dollars and create jobs through energy efficiency.
“The challenges we face in Washington are often dealt with first in state capitols and in cities and small towns across our nation,” said Sen. Carper. “And today, perhaps no problem looms as large as the impact the ongoing fiscal crisis has had on governments’ budgets. Delaware is no different and we understand that saving energy isn’t just good for the environment; it is good for the bottom line. It is important to remember that the cleanest, most efficient, and cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use.”
Sen. Carper’s hearing, titled “Blue, Gold, and Green: How Delaware State and Local Governments Are Cutting Their Energy Costs,” focused on Delaware because of a recent Executive Order issued by Governor Markell calling for his state government to lead by example in pursuing a clean energy economy and becoming more energy efficient. Both Governor Markell and Sen. Carper agree that energy efficiency is a clear and easy way to reduce operating expenses, create a more efficient government and improve overall productivity.
Last month, Sen. Carper held a hearing in Washington to explore President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order outlining energy conservation targets for federal agencies. Witnesses, including a representative from the U.S. Postal Service, testified that they had already experienced financial benefits to energy efficiency. Following the hearing, the White House announced an expected $10 billion in savings over the next 10 years as a direct result of the Executive Order.
It was appropriate for today’s hearing to be held in Wilmington’s Carvel Building. Energy-efficient upgrades for the Carvel Building alone will create 65 jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by 8.1 million pounds, which is equivalent to removing about 860 cars from our roads annually.
A panel of witnesses, including Governor Jack Markell, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker, and Roy Whitaker, Chief of Buildings and Grounds for Seaford School District shared how state and local governments are investing in energy efficiency and discuss results they have already seen.
"Across the country, our economy and our jobs are changing. Delaware is leading by example to cut costs, save resources and prepare our people to compete,” said Governor Markell. “At each level of government, Delawareans are working to make sure we’re ready for the clean-energy economy of the future and making sure our citizens are working in it.”
New Castle County, under the direction of County Executive Coons, has taken advantage of Energy Savings Performance Contracts, an increasingly popular funding mechanism for organizations who want to reduce energy consumption in a timely fashion without the need for up-front capital. Under such contracts, a private company is hired to audit an organization’s energy use and devise strategies or retrofits out of their own pocket and their contract is paid from the savings they generate.
“Conserving energy through retrofitting buildings and using renewable sources is not only environmentally responsible – it is fiscally responsible and makes perfect economic sense,” said County Executive Coons. “In New Castle County, our efforts are saving us money, making us healthier, and providing local jobs.”
In August 2008, Wilmington Mayor Baker issued an Executive Order outlining steps the City is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve a respectable quality of like for its residents and visitors and was one of the first cities in the U.S. to join The Climate Registry, a non-profit organization that measures and publicly reports greenhouse gas emissions in a common, accurate and transparent manner.
“One of the primary goals of Wilmington’s sustainability initiative is to achieve a meaningful reduction in our City’s energy footprint; the City hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from current levels by the year 2020,” said Mayor Baker. “While City government actions alone are too small to impact global greenhouse gas emissions trends, the City has joined with the private business sector to pool our energy conserving creativity and efforts because collectively we know we can make a difference.”
The Seaford School District is nationally recognized for their work in energy efficiency, resulting in annual savings of $640,000 per year and a several million pound reduction in air pollution. “Seaford School District’s introduction to the ENERGY STAR Program and ensuing partnership has enabled us to fast-track significant energy and pollution reduction measures that are having a real and immediate impact on the planet and the budget,” said Whitaker.
“We heard today that the federal government has a number of lessons to learn from our partners in state and local government,” said Sen. Carper. “I am grateful for the witnesses sharing their time and ideas with us today and I look forward to years of continued partnership.”