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Pound Ridge Officials Hope Programs Will Make Town Greener

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The Town of Pound Ridge is taking another step in its effort to become a greener and more energy-efficient community as it readies to embrace a program pioneered by the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NWEAC), of which it is a charter member.

The NWEAC was created four years ago and consists of 14 municipalities in Westchester County. Consortium members collaborate to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, save money for homeowners and businesses, increase energy efficiency, increase economic activity, and align local efforts with county, state, and federal initiatives.

“It’s quite an unusual organization that has gotten some national attention and collected around $3 million in grant money from the Department of Energy as well as New York State to help fund energy programs for the 14 towns,” said Dr. John Maddocks, chair of the Pound Ridge Sustainability Committee. “Pound Ridge has about 5,000 residents, but as part of the consortium, which is about 250,000 people, we can get more attention. We can pool our resources and find more efficient ways to provide and implement programs that we couldn’t do on our own.”

As part of his ongoing supervisor’s forums, Supervisor Gary Warshauer will hold a discussion called Energize Pound Ridge on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Town House at 10 a.m. It will introduce residents to a NWEAC program that was pioneered by the Town of Bedford.

“The biggest project that NWEAC has achieved is what Bedford has done with its home energy program where they did an energy assessment of its own community,” Maddocks explained. “The program is designed to encourage homeowners to get energy assessment. The program provides that for free, depending on income, and recommends contractors that could come in and do the work.”

Maddocks said the program works without the town becoming an agent for contractors.

“The law prohibits that and we have to keep an arm’s length while still encouraging people to participate without it tasting like a profit-making activity,” he said. “We need to inform people and help them to get involved without actually doing any of the work ourselves. That’s how Bedford structured their program.”

The program also provides third party-financing that offers loans paid back through utility bills. The loan stays with the house, so if it gets sold, the loan is transferred to the new owners.

Many of the homes in the Pound Ridge area were built prior to 1970, which is when the state created energy standards and guidelines, and thus would be ripe for an energy assessment.

“We have a lot of homes that were built before we are as energy sophisticated as we are now,” said Warshauer. “We also have a lot of smaller, converted summer homes. So this is an opportunity for our residents to not only to be energy efficient but to save money as well.”

“Pound Ridge residents are welcome to join the Bedford program but hopefully at some point we will have the program operating on our own,” Maddocks said. “Following [the forum] we will talk to the town board and see if they are interested in supporting it and making it an official program that we would sponsor.”

Maddocks said Pound Ridge has already undertaken some energy conservation projects under the NWEAC banner.

“We wanted an evaluation done on our municipal building on energy consumption and couldn’t find anyone on our payroll that could do it and couldn’t afford to hire someone on our own,” he said. “But with the consortium we could hire someone that could do that. We have just completed that and we now have a reliable database and we know how to implement programs to best save energy in the future. [NWEAC] has provided recommendations on how to do that.”

The buildings that were assessed include the town house, the pool building, highway garage and police station.

The town is also looking at solar energy opportunities, such as placing solar voltaic panels on some buildings and implementing a bulb-replacement program in which old light bulbs would be replaced by more energy-efficient models.

“This group has really created a synergy with southern Westchester and Putnam County to create a regional group to offer some real good energy-efficiency programs,” Warshauer said. “I am looking forward to unveiling some of these programs. The forum is really the first step. It will explain what the programs and the opportunities are.”

The other towns in the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium, besides Pound Ridge and Bedford, include Lewisboro, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Ossining, Ossining Village, Somers, Yorktown, Peekskill, Croton-on-Hudson and Mt. Kisco.

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