Grants Help 4 R.I. Communities Showcase Energy Efficiency

By ecoRI News staff

WARWICK, R.I. — Rhode Island’s congressional delegation joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), elected officials and community leaders March 2 to celebrate innovative work accomplished by four Ocean State communities to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions in municipal and residential buildings.

The communities — East Greenwich, North Providence, South Kingstown and Warwick — received a $497,492 EPA grant in 2010 to establish and implement climate-change initiatives.

In 2009, Congress appropriated $10 million for the EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities competitive grant program to demonstrate how small and medium-sized municipalities could develop cost-effective, scalable solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward a more sustainable, clean energy future.  More than 450 cities and towns nationwide applied, and ultimately EPA selected 25 projects to be Climate Showcase Communities.

In Rhode Island, the four municipalities focused on measuring their energy use and implementing energy-efficiency and conservation measures, as well as training their building operators, employees and students on how to reduce energy use.

Lighting and heating retrofits were implemented, and some 6,000 old, inefficient refrigerators were recycled. Under the program, more than 7,000 home energy assessments were conducted, some 2,000 residential weatherization projects completed, and about 1,500 small businesses participated in an energy-efficiency program led by National Grid.

Based on the success of the program, the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership, led by the Office of Energy Resources, is now working with municipalities statewide to help them become more energy efficient to lower their operating costs and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Climate Showcase Communities Grant Program is administered by EPA, providing technical assistance, tools and guidance to help state, local and tribal governments implement policies and programs to mitigate climate change. The goal of the program is to create replicable models of sustainable community action that generate cost-effective greenhouse-gas reductions.