Going for the green – Smithfield competes in 2017 Rhode Island Energy Challenge

Going for the green – Smithfield competes in 2017 Rhode Island Energy Challenge

SMITHFIELD – Smithfield is in the running to win a $10,000 energy efficiency grant through its participation in the 2017 Rhode Island Energy Challenge.

National Grid has teamed up with the nonprofit SmartPower to create the Rhode Island Energy Challenge: Find Your Four, which runs throughout the end of the calendar year.

The challenge encourages participants to “find your four” simple ways to save energy in the home.

Smithfield officially tossed its hat into the race on May 2, following a presentation by SmartPower representative Malinda Howard, who explained the national 501(c)(3) marketing firm’s commitment to green energy and energy efficiency.

“Rhode Island, nationally, is number four for green energy and energy efficiency momentum,” Howard said. “By all measurements we’re having some impact, so we would like to come here and bring our program to you.”

The program asks each town to fulfill the following three goals: having increased energy audits, establishing an Energy Committee, and engaging in one special project.

In August, Smithfield created an ad hoc Rhode Island Energy Challenge Task Force to encourage residents and businesses to reduce energy usage in their homes and businesses.

Councilor Maxine Cavanagh, also a member of the task force, said the main job of the committee has been encouraging residents to sign up for home energy audits.

“It’s worth it to do it,” said Cavanagh, who had her own home assessed by a National Grid Energy Specialist.

During a free home energy assessment, a National Grid Energy Specialist will come to the home, complete an attic-to-basement evaluation, and provide a custom home energy report outlining recommended energy efficiency improvements.

Better yet, National Grid will also install no-cost energy saving products for homeowners on the spot. This includes seven-day programmable thermostats, LED light bulbs, low-flow showerheads, and advanced powerstrips.

Cavanagh not only received several new thermostats and LED light bulbs, but she will also be able to take advantage of subsidized services – like National Grid’s offer of up to $4,000 toward the installation of approved insulation and targeted air sealing of leaks in drafty areas of the home.

Residents who participate in an energy audit can also receive rebates for replacing old appliances and upgrading heating, cooling, and water heating systems.

Matthew Ray, Lead Analyst with Rhode Island Energy Efficiency said programs like this not only “save a tremendous amount of energy, they also create hundreds of jobs and reduce carbon emissions, contributing to a healthier local economy both financially and environmentally.”

Recycling Coordinator Melissa Chaput said that with less than a month remaining in the challenge, Smithfield is about 85 percent toward its energy assessment goal.

“We’re getting a pretty good response from folks in town,” Chaput said. “I just think overall, being green is something we care about.”

Chaput said there’s no telling yet what the $10,000 grant would go toward if Smithfield was announced as the winner, but some residents have mentioned placing LED lights at Deerfield Park.

“It is going to be put before the Town Council for a vote,” Chaput said.

Town Manager Randy Rossi said he’s thrilled with the level of interest many residents have shown in energy conservation.

“I would encourage anyone that hasn’t signed up to do so, it is a simple process that will benefit your household’s energy bill, while helping to save the environment.”

To register for an assessment or to get involved in Energy Challenge activities, visit www.rienergychallenge.com, email: info@rienergychallenge.com or call SmartPower Representative, Malinda Howard at 401-261-8538.