Driving local investment in the clean economy

September 17, 2012

In this series of reports, Policy Matters Ohio documents best practices and policies from around the country. Taken together, these approaches can bring down barriers to energy efficiency, increase the use of clean energy, and create a foundation for comprehensive sustainability strategies in communities across the U.S.

Menu of local policy options: Cities across the nation continue efforts to revitalize their communities and make them more sustainable. One of the most inspiring examples is the very local, collaborative effort to help Oberlin, Ohio, grow the local economy, build pathways out of poverty for local residents, and create a model for sustainable economic development.

Demanding better energy information: Providing renters, buyers, owners, and operators of buildings with better information related to building energy use enables them to make more informed choices, differentiate between otherwise comparable properties, and decide whether or not energy upgrades are warranted.

Live-near-your-work programs are public-private partnerships that provide direct financial assistance to eligible employees to purchase homes within certain boundaries, encouraging them to live close to their jobs. Workers get help buying homes, pay less in transportation costs, and spend less time commuting; employers benefit from increased employee morale and productivity; communities can see revitalized neighborhoods, new work for contractors rehabbing homes, reduced traffic congestion and road repair costs, and improved air quality.

Feed-in rates at electric utilities are spurring renewable energy development in communities across the U.S. These are published rates offered by utility companies to purchase the energy produced by developers of renewable energy projects. The utility then engages in a long-term power purchase agreement (a CLEAN contract) with the renewable energy project developer at that rate.

Pay-while-you-save programs allows consumers to upgrade their homes and businesses to be more energy efficient while paying for the work over time through a monthly upgrade fee on their utility bill. Unlike most financing mechanisms, utility-bill financing programs can help renters as well as homeowners reduce their energy bills.

Combined heat and power technologies, also known as co-generation, harness power from heat that is normally wasted. CHP can help transform inefficiencies in Ohio’s electric power industry, which is the biggest source of energy waste in the state.

GreenStep Cities best practices is an excellent resource that provides new ways to boost community-based sustainability measures. When you click on a best practice, you’ll get a list of steps toward implementation. Clicking on any one of those actions will take you to a screen that shows examples of Minnesota communities that have made it work, along with additional implementation resources.

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