September 19, 2018 | ° F

Future looks bright for environment

Faced with concerns about rising energy prices, increased consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, New Jersey officials are seeking affordable solutions for state residents.

Frederick Butler, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities commissioner, spoke at the library on Wednesday about conservation strategies for residents, which can both reduce electric bills and benefit the environment.

"Energy prices are going in one direction - up," Butler said.

He said energy costs would continue to rise due to high demand, limited supply and measures taken to reduce environmental impact.

Residents could reduce electric bills by switching to compact flourescent bulbs, he said. These bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs, according to a NJBPU press release.

Butler said each incandescent bulb, which can last up to six years, could save people about $30 over the life time of the bulb. Lower energy bills also translate to a lower impact on the environment.

Butler said residential energy consumption contributes to about one-third of carbon dioxide emissions. Fossil fuels, such as coal, release this gas when they are burned to generate energy for electricity. Energy consumption rises about 1 to 2 percent per year, he said.

"I seriously am going home and buying new bulbs because it's so important for our environment," said Maria Borbely, a city resident.

But despite potential benefits, some residents are concerned with the quality and variety of bulbs available.

"I don't like them, but I changed them. I like the dimmers." said Charles Renda, a board member for Friends of the Library, which sponsored the event.

Currently, there are no compact fluorescent bulbs that can be used with dimmer switches, Butler said.

Renda said he would like New Jersey to continue to sponsor a month where large discounts are given on energy efficient light bulbs.

"They used to have them for a dollar," Renda said.

The state used to have an energy conservation month and offered discounts on the bulbs, he said.

Butler said the state has stopped sponsoring the discount because they have been working to lower the prices of energy efficient light bulbs. He said bulbs are currently priced below $2.

Butler said the state also is working to ensure that energy costs are less than 6 percent of resident's annual salary.

He said the state has joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a coalition of several states who have pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions. The state's goal is to cut these emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

"We need to talk about old plants and how they are polluting the environment," Butler said.

Butler said about 50 percent of New Jersey's energy comes from nuclear power, which emits nearly no carbon dioxide.

"It has other problems," he said, citing the issue of disposing nuclear waste. "But it doesn't emit carbon dioxide."

Michelle Cerone

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