Now might be a good time for municipalities to take a second look at their energy expenses:
Mount Laurel, for instance, says it budgeted $360,000 for electricity in
its municipal buildings this year, up 28 percent from the previous year.
Evesham, Burlington County’s most populous town, budgeted $330,000 for utilities this year, an 18 percent increase from 2007, and anticipates spending $343,000 next year
I have no doubt that this problem is rearing its head across the state and the Board of Public Utilities has a program to try and help identify potential savings:
Audits completed according to the program requirements, first of all, are eligible to receive rebates of up to 75 percent of the cost of the audit. After that, if your local government goes on to actually implement recommendations from the energy audit and the work exceeds 25 percent of the cost of the audit, then you can qualify for an additional rebate of that 25 percent. In effect, your energy audit would be free. And upgrades in lighting, installing timers and motion sensing devices, more energy efficient copiers or hvac systems?all of these can translate into lower energy use and lower or more stable energy costs.
In order to participate, towns just need to pass a resolution enabling the town to submit the application and they even provide a sample resolution for an extra hand. 96 local governments have already applied for the audit program. If your town isn’t participating, they can get the application to get the ball rolling.
The audit is separate from municipalities such as Wayne who are trying to utilize alternative energy to realize savings:
By February, solar panels will be up at two schools. A geothermal system will heat and cool the Police Department by the fall. And by the end of next year, work will be complete on a natural-gas-fired cogeneration plant that will provide power, heating and cooling to township buildings and nearby schools.
Cherry Hill has turned to conservation efforts as a way to relieve pressure on budgets:
Immediate savings have come from RecycleBank, the recycling initiative that began township-wide on July 1. The program triggered increased recycling participation and lowered landfill fees by $200,000 in the current fiscal budget, said Deborah Campbell, Cherry Hill’s chief financial officer.
The economy may cause towns to hold back on making some of these green investments in new technologies, but I don’t see much of a down side to participating if the audit because the town will be reimbursed for the majority if not all of the costs for the audit and then reap the savings of the changes made.