Feb 27, 2010

Clean Energy Finance for Lewisboro

Thankfully, and maybe with the help of measured, non-ideological commentary like this from the Ledger, the Town Board voted to participate in this Northern Westchester Energy Acton Consortium program. It will take a while to develop, but I'm glad that Lewisboro chose to stay on the curve rather than behind it.

Editorial: Keeping the PACE

Dan Welsh may soon lose his position as part of the majority party on the Town Board, but he has not lost his zeal for energy-saving initiatives. His latest proposal, to have Lewisboro join Bedford and other municipalities to qualify for state money to enable homeowners to retrofit their homes with energy upgrades, appears to be another “smart” idea the board needs to seriously consider.

New York’s PACE program — Property Assessed Clean Energy — eliminates the upfront costs for energy improvements by allowing taxpayers to pay for them over 15 to 20 years through an increase in their annual property taxes. More information regarding the proposal is needed, but the concept is sound and does not appear to burden the town in any way. Instead, it would merely serve as a medium for the state to deliver the money to residents who want to make the upgrades but lack the money to pay for them entirely now, and for the financing to be repaid. Makes sense, right? Well, so did the proposal to consider Smart Grid technology, with no commitment by the town. The outcome? The Town Board was the only one of 13 local municipality governing bodies to turn it down.

What makes this proposal’s standing in Lewisboro even more precarious is that some board members stated that the totality of their efforts must be focused on eliminating the deficit at the expense of other projects. The board has rightfully spent countless hours attacking the deficit and will continue to do so for months, but that doesn’t mean that all else be ignored, especially projects at no cost that save energy and lower residents’ utility bills.

Climategate may finally quiet those who were screaming that global warming is solely a manmade phenomenon that is occurring at an alarming pace, but that does not mean that the environment should be tread upon harshly. Instead, conservation efforts and green initiatives, such as this one, that come without burdening property owners deserve support by local governments to help ensure the environment remains protected for years to come.