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News Releases from Region 01

R.I. Officials, EPA Celebrate Successful Climate Showcase Communities Partnership

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

WARWICK, R.I. - Rhode Island's Congressional delegation today joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), elected officials, and community leaders 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 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 towns 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 their energy use. Lighting and heating retrofits were implemented, and over 6,000 old, inefficient refrigerators were recycled. Under the program, more than 7,000 home energy assessments were conducted, approximately 2,000 residential weatherization projects were completed, and over 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 R.I. Office of Energy Resources, is now working with municipalities statewide to help them become more energy efficient and lower their operating costs and reduce greenhouse gases. Additionally, the University of Rhode Island will continue to train the next generation of energy professionals to continue reducing energy use in Rhode Island.

"I am pleased to have helped make this federal funding available and proud of the way these communities and organizations came together to promote energy efficiency," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who helped create this funding opportunity. "Working with the University of Rhode Island and the talented students selected as Energy Fellows, these four municipalities have shown real leadership in assessing energy use in their communities and developing ways to reduce consumption. They organized the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership and created Energy Manager positions in South Kingstown and Warwick. The Thayer and Warburton Ice Arenas received nearly $100,000 in funding from the competitive grant for energy upgrades. In addition, the grant recipients have formed a strong partnership with National Grid, which has helped fund many projects and provided incentives for residents in these four communities to increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption."

"The great work done in the four showcase communities through the EPA grant provides a model for other Rhode Island cities and towns to follow," Governor Gina Raimondo said. "The lessons learned through these projects will help pave the way for communities to save money and energy and support local jobs, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"Our cities and towns are setting an example by adopting sensible measures that reduce harmful carbon pollution, while lowering energy costs for consumers. They show that reducing carbon emissions is a win-win. I'm proud of Rhode Island's leadership on clean energy and climate change and I congratulate these communities on their success," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"Reducing energy consumption will help move our state and our country towards energy independence, strengthen national security and begin to combat climate change. This program is a wonderful example of how those goals can be achieved, and it is so exciting to see a grant that my colleagues and I supported come to fruition," said Congressman Jim Langevin.

"Congratulations to the four Rhode Island communities, including North Providence, that were awarded nearly $500,000 in federal funds to reduce our state's carbon footprint," said Congressman David Cicilline. "As we address the urgent issue of climate change, these federal funds helped increase energy efficiency in buildings around the state to save money, and make our communities healthier places to live and work. I will continue to support federal programs that help Rhode Island and the nation meet our energy efficiency needs and promote a sustainable economy."

"Across the country and here at home in New England, EPA is working with communities to find and employ smart, scalable and effective tools to cut greenhouse gases and reduce energy bills for families and businesses," said Deb Szaro, deputy regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We are so proud that all four of these communities did a great job helping to lead the way in this effort."

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 Climate Showcase Communities grant program is to create replicable models of sustainable community action that generate cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions.

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said, "My administration is deeply committed to instituting energy efficient programs and to protecting our environment. The Climate Showcase Grant has enabled the City of Warwick to build upon the momentum we've gained in implementing energy efficiencies in municipal buildings. It is gratifying to me that these funds have been used to make the Thayer and Warburton Ice Arenas, our pool and two of our fire stations more energy efficient. I would like to thank the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, our state's congressional delegation and the University of Rhode Island for their leadership and support."

Charles Lombardi, Mayor of North Providence said, "It was a real pleasure being part of this program, which was a great success for the City of North Providence. We've experienced considerable savings through using geothermal energy in our town hall. Our electricity and fuel cost have been reduced drastically."

Stephen A. Alfred, South Kingstown Town Manager said, "The Climate Community Showcase Program has been a tremendous success in South Kingstown and we are appreciative of EPA's leadership in making this program and its resources available. The ongoing support of our Congressional delegation around energy efficiency programs and resources has greatly helped South Kingstown and RI communities keep these issues in the fore of public dialogue. Our demonstration project retrofitted all of the lighting at our Public Safety complex, generating substantial savings in electricity costs, providing better working conditions at the police station, and reducing our carbon footprint as a community. We are actively seeking to replicate this model for other Town facilities going forward. In addition, the partnerships that the grant fostered with the RI Office of Energy Resources, URI energy fellows program, and N-GRID have been invaluable in the development of our municipal energy conservation program. This program has been a win-win for South Kingstown and it is a source of pride in our town."

More information on EPA's Climate Showcase Communities program (www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/climate-showcase-communities-program)