Friday, July 10, 2009

Progress on Climate Protection

Since the Sustainability Working Group released its Climate Protection Plan in January, we’ve seen some good progress, particularly in the area of clean energy. The Council directed the formation of the SWG as a way to help the County with our pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. With 58 recommendations in the plan, we still have plenty of work to do, but while our G-8 leaders discuss climate change issues internationally, here are some good things we have going on right here, right now:

  • Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)—Homeowners can voluntarily obtain a home energy audit and then take the results of the audit to the County, which will provide a zero-interest loan to make improvements. The County is currently working on developing the regulations.
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants—The County will receive approximately $7.6 million from the federal government through these block grants. While a final determination regarding its use will hinge on federal approval, a significant percentage will be allocated to greenhouse gas reduction actions listed in the Climate Protection Plan.
  • Maryland Clean Energy Center—The County will host the center’s headquarters. The center will provide a coordinated approach to building a strong, clean energy economy in Maryland through technology commercialization, business incubation and workforce development and training.
  • Biogas Feasibility Study—WSSC’s FY10-15 Approved Capital Improvements Program includes $345,000 for a feasibility study to develop a comprehensive program for the engineering, design and construction of sustainable energy equipment and systems to produce biogas at the Seneca and Piscataway Wastewater Treatment Plants.
  • Programmable Thermostats—The County was selected for a $70,000 grant award from the Maryland Energy Administration for the distribution of programmable thermostats.
  • Bikeway Improvements—The Department of Transportation has completed 10 bike route sign plans ready for installation; distributed 1,000 bike safety lights and bike safety brochures to encourage increased usage of bicycles; and purchased 15 bicycle racks which can be installed in the public rights-of-way upon request.

The SWG will take up its work again at the end of the summer, and I look forward to continued progress. Let me know what you think.

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