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Clean energy: gov't must lead by example

With many sectors of the economy just beginning to recover from the recent recession, what better time for our local government to invest in infrastructure that will not only save money but also assist the fight on global warming?

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reporting on a presentation in Whallonsburg by Jerry Jenkins, author of "Climate Change in the Adirondacks." What struck me most about the discussion that evening was not the apocalyptic shift in temperatures predicted to occur in the next several decades, but rather the strategies Jenkins recommended for individuals and families to reduce their carbon footprints.

The simplest and least criticized of steps, Jenkins noted, is thrift. If people make a conscious effort to buy less, to travel less, to heat their homes less, it stands to reason they will reduce the amount of energy they use and the amount of carbon dioxide that's produced.

Frugality is green, and, as they say, "green is the new black." Spending less energy almost always means spending less money.

If local government is serious about lowering taxes in the long run, now is the perfect time to invest in going green. Just as the state and federal government is extending incentives to homeowners, similar subsidies are currently available to help local governments, schools, and other public or nonprofit institutions to install solar panels, heating systems, and other energy efficient appliances.

The subsidies are there for good reason. The jump to greener technology usually requires a large up-front investment. Unlike most homeowners, however, municipalities have more options when it comes to investment capital. Even if it's necessary to borrow, the savings gained by a green upgrade can often offset the cost within a few years.

These days we're all tightening our belts, and since our local governments can't seem to crawl out from under the many unfunded mandates placed on them by the state, why not get them to invest in energy independence? What better way to develop a model for sustainability and demonstrate truly improved efficiency in government?

Matt Bosley is a staff writer for Denton Publications. He can be reached at matt@denpubs.com

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