It Takes A Village — Reducing Gas Usage

While residents are feeling pain at the gas pump, officials running our Villages are figuring out ways to tighten their belts as well when it comes to energy costs.

Unlike the rest of us, our local governments are tax exempt when they purchase their fuel and they benefit from getting it wholesale through New York State.

But … “We still have to obviously absorb the cost of fuel,” Sleepy Hollow Mayor Philip Zegarelli said in an interview last week.

“We’re not driving a bunch of Priuses,” he added, pointing out it would be impossible to get hybrid vehicles for garbage trucks.

Nevertheless, Village workers have gotten the message: “We’ve told them to turn their vehicles off [rather than idle them when not in use].”

Meanwhile, in Irvington, the Climate Protection Task Force is about to issue its report, which would probably include items about fuel. The Village also is working with a company called Wendel Energy, which has produced a comprehensive energy audit for the town.

Irvington Administrator Larry Schopfer said Wendel’s report identified areas where the Village could install energy efficient equipment. He said Wendel would guarantee that certain projects would pay for themselves by saving energy over a certain number of years, or the company would issue a check paying the difference.

In its audit, Wendel said improvements to Village buildings would yield an annual energy savings of $70,943, with a “simple payback” in 13.9 years. The recommendations include high efficiency lighting and lighting controls throughout Village buildings, an overhead door replacement at the DPW complex, steam generator replacements in several Village buildings, a roof replacement at the firehouse and outside street lighting improvements throughout town. Wendel also said improvements to the Village’s water infrastructure would save the town $147,942 annually in energy and operational costs with a “simple payback” in 11.8 years.

“Those savings are going to be guaranteed to us,” Schopfer said, adding that the Village might sign a contract with Wendel by the end of the month.

Irvington also has looked into hybrid pickup trucks, but village mechanics don’t feel the vehicles are adequate for towing and plowing, according to Schopfer. “Where we can, we’ve been purchasing flex fuel [vehicles].”

Like Irvington, Tarrytown also is looking to make its facilities more energy efficient.

“On all new projects, certainly we’re going to look at making those projects green,” Village Administrator Michael Blau said in an interview last week. He said the Village already owns one hybrid vehicle and would “expand the fleet whenever possible.”

On the horizon, Blau said Tarrytown would be applying for federal community development block grants issued by Westchester County, and would like to use the grant money to purchase a hybrid vehicle for the senior citizen van.

However, Blau warned that the Village would need to do a cost benefit analysis because the price of hybrid vehicles has gone up.

Meanwhile, back in Sleepy Hollow, Zegarelli said the Village is about to go out to bid for a new senior center, and officials are looking to make LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) enhancements by going geothermal to heat the building and make more energy efficient windows.

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About the Author: Brett Freeman