Now over 5,000 SouthCoast residents have committed to taking energy-savings actions in their everyday lives to save money, reduce their carbon footprint, and support their local economy. The Energy Challenge is a region-wide energy efficiency campaign with the goal of enlisting 35,000 SouthCoast households in energy saving activities.
The Energy Challenge launched in August 2011, when the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEAL), a coalition of 25 of the region’s core environmental organizations, came to the conclusion that energy efficiency needed to become a top priority in the region.
One SEEAL board member said, “Reaching 5,000 means we are hitting a critical mass. People are excited, not just to save money, but they know they can trust us. Challenge members come up to us all the time to volunteer and want to know how their energy saving actions are going. They give us new ideas and creative ways to save energy.”
In New Bedford alone, over 1,200 people are taking the challenge as part of New Bedford Energy Now’s town sponsored challenge. NPR’s “Living on Earth” has featured the New Bedford Energy Now program. Listen at: http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=12-P13-00048&segmentID=3. New Bedford is putting people to work, building a sustainable energy model that the whole country can use. New Bedford residents have already saved 161,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions.
Regional program organizers estimate that if the Energy Challenge goals are met, the region-wide savings could be over $26 million dollars that would be kept in the local economy. To date, Challenge members have pledged over $200,000 of savings through taking simple steps like getting a Mass Save no-cost home energy assessment, or properly inflating their car’s tires and committing to driving the speed limit. Over 50 residents have also committed to going solar, and have installed residential solar PV on their homes.
Thanks to a robust internship model, combined with monetary incentives and rewards from public and private partnerships, the South Coast Energy Challenge has been able to engage over 5,000 residents since February of this year. Projections estimate that Challenge membership will double by the end of 2013.