Global warming: you can act locally

Richard Miner, Belle Mead 
To the editor: 
With the president’s global warming initiatives hampered by climate deniers and industry advocates in the legislative branch, perhaps we should consider more carefully other, more local, avenues to reducing our CO2 emissions.
Despite our governor’s waffling on this issue, here, in New Jersey we have a number of innovative approaches in the works.
As a resident of Montgomery Township, I am particularly proud of the way this community is moving forward in its small and local way to address this global concern. Montgomery Township has initiated a community wide energy sharing program called the Montgomery Community Energy Aggregation Program.
This program combines an attempt to save money for individual and business energy users with an attempt to find a supplier with higher renewable energy production.
This fall Montgomery will be the second community in the state to adopt this state-sponsored initiative. The first community, Plumsted, went with the state requirement at the time of at least 10 percent renewable energy (11 percent + by the time Montgomery’s plan is finalized).
Communities could increase this percentage if their residents were willing to sacrifice some of the savings for the renewable energy cause.
Marin County, California, offers rate payers a two-tier system; Light Green at 25 percent renewable rising to 50 percent by 2015 or Deep Green 100 percent at a slight price premium.
As renewable energy becomes even more competitive in NJ than it is currently, perhaps such modifications would become more feasible here. I’d guess wind energy off the coast would help.
Montgomery’s passion for the issue has sprouted more and more solar systems at our schools where they deliver carbon free energy and serve as invaluable examples of community action for our students.
Close to 30 percent of the energy used by Montgomery schools is provided by solar energy.
How is your community doing? Come on out to Montgomery and take a look at our elementary school parking lot, now protected from the weather by solar arrays. Another aggregation type program covers other municipal facilities right on down to the sewage plant.
In New Jersey we have already taken an important step toward supporting such programs by separating supply from distribution costs so that new suppliers can enter the market and compete.
And, our state action has indeed fostered competition. With that competition already in place, we might anticipate that suppliers aggressively seeking customers will either lower prices or promise a higher renewable energy content.
Companies might even compete by advertising their sustainable energy objectives, and New Jersey’s enviable position as a source of innovation would be further enhanced.
A national carbon tax fed back into such programs would help, but we can move forward for the time being, now, without one. All we need to do is let the energy supply companies and our local politicians know how much we value renewable energy.
So, speak up, locally. 
Richard Miner 
Belle Mead 