10 Percent Challenge in Orange County

By Shawn Dell Joyce

I recently received a notice from my utility company comparing my energy usage to my neighbors. According to Central Hudson, I used 61 percent less energy than my neighbors and received a double smiley face on my report. You might think that would warm my green heart, but actually, it shows how inefficient most of our homes are.

I’m not really making an effort to be more energy efficient than my neighbors, I’m just more conscious of energy use and do a few things most people don’t…like weatherize windows, open windows instead of using the fan, and line dry clothes whenever possible. By doing a few simple things like these, I save $1,784 according to Central Hudson’s Home Energy Report.

Imagine what you could save if you really made an effort. Walden Mayor Brian Maher did just that, and committed the Village of Walden to take the “Ten Percent Challenge” issued by Sustainable Hudson Valley. This means that the Village government will measure and reduce its energy usage by ten percent, and get ten percent of Walden households to do the same.

Walden, joins Warwick, and Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, as municipalities willing to adopt simple efficiency measures to use tax dollars more wisely.  By successfully measuring, and reducing energy expenses, these municipalities are reducing tax dollars spent on energy by ten percent, and residents who participate are lowering their monthly energy bills by ten percent, saving money all around. To make it even sweeter, Earthkind is donating a solar thermal system to the municipality that reaches ten percent first. Why aren’t all our local governments participating?

In addition to the Village of Walden, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce,  and the Village of Montgomery expressed interest in joining the challenge. Several local businesses will be benchmarks, like the Walden Library and the Wallkill River School, which will have energy audits and reduce their energy use accordingly.

Jon and Kelsey Buhl are Valley Central students, Walden residents, and a brother and sister team that is setting up the challenge in their school. They committed to the challenge because “we are concerned citizens that want to help out our community in any way possible, and this project was a great way for us to get involved.”

These young people are right, and we need more stakeholders like them to help make the Ten Percent Challenge a success. If you want to join them, along with Mayer Maher, and many of the “movers and shakers” of our community, come to the next Ten Percent Challenge meeting in the Bradley Room on the second floor of the Walden Village Hall on Tuesday, May 17 at 7pm. Better yet, call you town and village board members and offer to carpool with them to the meeting.

“We’re in a new economic era. We have growing resource constraints but lots of under-employed people. If we’re going to achieve a turnaround, in economy and quality of life, we have to build upon our assets, and one of the greatest assets is the power of people who want to make a difference,” says J. Michael O’Hara, Campaign Manager, Ten Percent Challenge.


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One Response to “10 Percent Challenge in Orange County”

  1. Mary Makofske Says:

    Thanks for spreading the word, Shawn. The 10% Challenge seems to be riding a wave. There’s also an Energize Warwick program just beginning sponsored by the Warwick Valley School District, RECAP, and Warwick Valley Telephone. It will offer a $10,000 prize to a non-profit group that collects the most points for having energy audits and retrofits. Glad to see Central Hudson’s bills make saving energy akin to keeping up with the Joneses.

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