Climate change has brought new expressions into our language — “energy advocate,” “energy champion,” “regional energy coach” — as we struggle, at the grass-roots level, to cut back the amount of heat spewed into the atmosphere.
Community activists of Transition Woodstock are encouraging local residents and businesses to take the Ten Percent Challenge, a national initiative to reduce energy usage by ten percent. Representatives of NYSERDA and RUPCO met with Woodstock town officials and Transition members on January 8, preparing a campaign to help people conserve both money and fuel through free energy audits and assistance in making energy-saving upgrades.
NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, is partially funded by a roughly $2-per-month surcharge on each homeowner’s electric bill, said Patrice Courtney Strong, who has a contract with NYSERDA to perform outreach and education on how to make use of the agency’s offerings. She works with businesses, and Mike D’Arcy of RUPCO works with homeowners, helping applicants fill out paperwork and engage contractors to perform upgrades.
Strong said, “People learn about NYSERDA when it becomes relevant to them. A homeowner looks at their bill in outrage or despair and calls Central Hudson to say there must be a mistake.” If it turns out the meter is working properly, the power company will refer the homeowner to NYSERDA for an energy audit.
“I have programs you can apply for, and I can get you money for them,” added Strong. “We have funding that came from you, and our job is to get it back to you. Most everything is done online, but we can walk you through the applications. We drive all over the Hudson Valley to help people.”
D’Arcy, whose title is “regional energy coach,” explained, “You have to make less than $147,000 a year to get a free energy audit. When it’s done, you have a report in front of you, and there’s no obligation to follow up, or you can even do the work yourself. RUPCO can help you find local contractors to do the audit and do the work.”