We at NEEP spend most of our time in a pretty wonky universe. We work to advance energy efficiency policies and programs, but rarely do we get the chance to talk directly to “real people.” That is why it was so refreshing to attend the Local Environmental Action Conference over the weekend at Northeastern University in Boston.
A few hundred people – seasoned activists and those just dipping their toes in the grassroots – came together to learn about an array of issues and talk about how they can be part of the solution. The conference, hosted by the Toxics Action Center and Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN), drew people from Massachusetts and neighboring states to learn about energy, waste, water, food, public health and a host of other issues. But the folks at this conference aren’t just there for the talking – they take what they learn back to their own communities where they are forging change from the ground up.
As part of a panel called “Clean, Sustainable Energy 101,” NEEP’s own Josh Craft gave a great talk about the nation-leading energy efficiency programs in Massachusetts, and how efficiency is a resource that is driving down our region’s energy use while delivering a host of environmental and economic benefits.
We were also there with our friends from the Oilheat Save Energy Coalition to talk about “An Act further promoting energy efficiency and green jobs,” Bill H 2741. Thanks to Conservation Services Group, we had a table to talk with conference-goers about the importance of the legislation and encourage them to sign up for an action alert as it moves forward this spring.
Massachusetts is a national leader in energy efficiency investments, yet there is still no dedicated funding source to help people who heat with oil to weatherize homes and buildings and invest in efficient new oilheat systems. More than a third of Bay State residents, close to a million people, rely on oil to heat their homes. And at current costs of about $4/gallon, we can little afford to waste this resource.
While those with natural gas have long enjoyed energy efficiency assistance through the Mass Save programs, there are many areas of the state that don’t have the option of gas conversion. We believe it’s time to extend the same opportunities to the millions of residents, businesses, municipal buildings who heat with oil.
A broad coalition – including oil dealers, plumbing and heating contractors, low-income advocates, energy and environmental groups is working for passage of this bill to create an oilheat efficiency fund. This is a major missing piece in the state’s ambitious energy and climate agenda, and would significantly save consumers money, add thousands of jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It was great to connect with local chapter members of MCAN and other conference attendees who see the wisdom of expanding energy efficiency opportunities to all. To learn more about oilheat efficiency and sign up for an action alerts, visit oilheatsaveenergycoalition.org.