NStar and the City of New Bedford have partnered with the Marion Institute’s Green Jobs, Green Economy Initiative and PACE YouthBuild to pilot a groundbreaking community-based project promoting energy efficiency and green-sector jobs. By leveraging the expertise of the Green Jobs, Green Economy Initiative and the training provided by the local YouthBuild program, the new Community Mobilization Initiative (CMI) pilot combines the benefits of NStar’s residential and small business energy audits with job opportunities for inner-city residents and young adults.
The goal of the initiative is to weatherize 25 small businesses, 50 units of housing and 4 apartment buildings in the next two months.
The partners are seeking interested local businesses to improve their energy efficiency through NStar’s Small Business Solutions program, which offers a free energy analysis to determine energy savings opportunities and provides incentives that cover up to 70% of the total installed cost. There is an excellent return on investment for these measures, with the program’s financial incentives typically paying for the improvements in less than one year. Some of the energy efficiency measures provided by NStar include rebates for high-efficiency lighting, lighting controls, HVAC tune-ups, refrigeration and cooler measures and controls, motors and variable speed drives as well as other site-specific measures.
By increasing energy efficiency in this way, three positive outcomes are achieved –business owners save money on their utility bills, local jobs are created, and carbon-emissions are reduced. Small business owners should contact 1-877-979-POWER or 508.951.4026 or send email to NewBedfordPOWER@gmail.com.
The focus of the CMI pilot in New Bedford is to test the effectiveness of using a local workforce in a person-to-person approach to introduce city residents to NSTAR’s energy efficiency programs. P.O.W.E.R., or People Organizing for Wealth and Ecological Restoration, is a project of the Marion Institute’s Green Jobs, Green Economy Initiative created in partnership with the ESHU2 Collective. P.O.W.E.R. is responsible for the outreach component of the pilot and has hired a team of New Bedford residents to conduct person-to-person outreach and a creative social-marketing campaign to build interest in NSTAR’s energy efficiency programs, especially with NSTAR customers who are not always effectively reached through traditional ad campaigns.
The ultimate goal is to increase participation in the programs, creating demand for weatherization work that will then be performed by trained local contractors. NStar will use the information gathered through this pilot to determine the feasibility of adopting similar outreach initiatives across its service area.
“The country’s long term strategic energy program is based upon conservation and energy efficiency,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang of New Bedford. “This program meets both of these objectives and puts our young people on a career path which leads to many different profitable and satisfying skills and professions. Creating jobs and developing energy sustainability and independence is the most important objective that we will achieve in the 21st Century.”
This pilot is part of a larger vision of moving New Bedford and the region to economic, environmental and community sustainability. Mayor Scott W. Lang has a stated goal of weatherizing 5000 units of housing and small businesses in the next five years. Accomplishing this ambitious goal will require the support of residents and business owners.