Ten Percent Challenge Takes Root

By Shawn Dell Joyce
The Ten Percent Challenge is taking root in the Town of Montgomery, where the Village Board recently passed a unanimous resolution to support the challenge, pledging to reduce energy use at the municipal level by 10 percent or more in the next year. Also, the village will be getting 10 percent of its residents to join in. This challenge will result in fewer tax dollars being spent on municipal utilities and residents lowering their utility bills.

Montgomery joins Walden in pledging to reduce energy use. Walden Mayor Brian Maher first embraced the challenge issued by Sustainable Hudson Valley. He called public meetings, attracting residents from all over the Wallkill Valley. The group formed into the Ten Percent Challenge committee and has been meeting monthly ever since. The next meeting is at Montgomery Village Hall at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6.

The Ten Percent Challenge is a baby step toward energy independence. The more efficiently we use the energy we have, the less energy we need to import, or produce through environmentally damaging methods like fracking. Energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins points out that “it’s much cheaper to buy efficiency than it is to buy energy.”

The goal of the Ten Percent Challenge Committee is to get Maybrook and the Town of Montgomery on board as well, and have the whole Town of Montgomery committed to the challenge. Neither government has been approached yet; but interested residents should come to the next meeting to find out how they can take a resolution before the board.

NYSERDA is making the pledge simple for residents by offering free energy audits through their website www.getenergysmart.org. Residents can take part in the challenge by signing the pledge at their village halls on July 16. Informational tables will be set up in all three villages to tell residents about the pledge and the free energy audits. At most tables, residents can speak to an auditor directly. The tables will remain in village halls for the week of July 17-23 with free literature. Walden will have a booth at the big block party on Ivy Hill on July 16th.

Warwick recently made headlines by announcing its own version of the Ten Percent Challenge called “Energize Warwick” where they are offering a $10,000 cash bonus to the nonprofit that gets the most “points” for households reducing their energy usage. This incentive is a great way to get community groups like the Boy Scouts, Little League, churches and other nonprofits to mobilize their memberships. It would be a real boon to the Town of Montgomery to have an incentive package to offer as well.

All municipalities are in competition through Sustainable Hudson Valley for a prize to the one that reduces its energy usage the most. Among other prizes, the winning municipality gets a solar thermal unit installed on a municipal building, and a vacation at Omega for the municipal leaders. While prizes are nice, the real winners of the Ten Percent Challenge are the residents who will pay lower taxes in the winning communities. Let the change begin with you, take the challenge with us, get involved, and let’s make a change!

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School, a nonprofit arts org in Montgomery that is a benchmark for the Ten Percent Challenge. The entire org will reduce its energy usage and encourage ten percent of its members to do the same. www.WallkillRiverSchool.com

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