Earlier this month, Michael Hein, the Ulster County executive, signed an executive order mandating that the county get serious about green, renewable energy. He’s having Ulster County government buildings switch over to renewable energy-sourced electricity for the remainder of 2014 and all of 2015.
According to county officials, Hein’s executive order is one-of-a-kind in New York State.
Not directly related to that — but very much in the same vein — New Paltz has at least two green energy initiatives aimed at getting homeowners to go solar or remodel their houses for energy efficiency.
New Paltz 10% Challenge
New Paltz 10% Challenge is a partnership with the Green Jobs — Green NY Program, NYSERDA and the Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO). That program wants to get 10 percent of New Paltz’s populace to get a home energy efficiency audit. Further, it aims to get 10 percent of that original 10 percent to actually take the plunge and remodel.
Daniel Torres is New Paltz Town Board’s energy liaison to the RUPCO home remodeling program. He’s excited about the New Paltz 10% Challenge, because — in general — people are leaving a lot of aid money to green their homes on the table.
NYSERDA’s Green Jobs — Green NY gives homeowners access to a free energy audit of their property. It shows where heat escapes and appliances in need of upgrades. It also offers low-interest loans to those who decide to upgrade after that audit.
“These aren’t necessarily new programs, but they are programs that many people in our community might be unaware of and like to take advantage of,” Torres said.
People making less than $144,000 per year are eligible for the free energy audit. Individual homeowners aren’t the only ones who can get help either. People in a multi-family dwelling — even if it is a rental — can get the audits, too.
“So for the most part, it is a free home energy audit. So what we’re working to do is to educate people on the process: what it takes; what you need to do and get other people excited,” the town councilman said. “From there, what we’re looking to do is meet with contractors, meet with people to help them with the paperwork to get ready to do this and get the home energy audit done.”
Part of the logic of RUPCO and the town’s push is that if 10 percent of those who get the free audit done actually get work done on their home, New Paltz will have accomplished something in terms of energy efficiency.
Torres said he was surprised to learn that people in New Paltz already knew they could get the free energy audits — or had already done so. “A number of people are currently in the process of doing it, or have done it already. I was stunned at the number of people who did know about this.”
Even for people unmoved by the environmental message of the campaign, Torres hopes that money and actual savings will motivate others.
“It’s a great way for people to save money for their home — less energy, less CO2 emission,” he said.