MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ - While most state and county governments rely on the federal economic stimulus funding for transportation projects, Monmouth County is also seeking to get a share for energy programs, according to www.app.com.
In an effort to explore new ways the County can reduce greenhouse gases, last December a greenhouse gas reduction advisory committee was appointed by the Board of Freeholders.
Freeholder John D'Amico Jr. said alternative-energy initiatives likely will be part of the local work earmarked for federal stimulus money along with funds for roads, bridges, and mass transportation projects.
"This is something the county Planning Board and freeholders have been working on for over a year, and President Obama has been talking about green being a cornerstone of his policy. It's a good opportunity for the County to compete for the funding and tax rebates," said Millstone Township Committeeman Elias Abilheira.
The freeholders approved a resolution to spend up to $100,000 on energy audits for a handful of county buildings. The audits qualify for 75- percent reimbursement through a state Board of Public Utilities program and an additional reimbursement based on implementation of recommended energy-efficiency measures and facility upgrades intended to reduce operating expenses, officials said.
Monmouth County also has four transportation projects believed eligible for stimulus funding, ranging from rebuilding a bridge and dam to repaving county roads and rehabilitating traffic signals to extend service life. The state Department of Transportation also has projects in the County that could be advanced with stimulus funds.
D'Amico went to Washington to join about 70 mayors, county officials, and other elected officials for meetings arranged by Climate Communities and Iclei USA, an association of local governments helping communities measure their carbon footprints and implement local climate action plans to reduce energy consumption. The group wanted to ensure that federal policies are aligned with local community needs, he said.
"We delivered an important message to senators, congressmen, and representatives of President Obama about directing energy program money and economic stimulus package money to towns and cities because we have projects ready to go," D'Amico said. "Having this climate leaders group, of which Monmouth County is part, lobbying for a role for local government was a very important factor in keeping the energy efficiency legislation intact."
Monmouth County already promotes renewable energy and cost savings at the Reclamation Center in Tinton Falls, including its gas-to-energy program that harnesses methane gas produced naturally by decomposing garbage and converting it into electricity, county officials said. Also, the county Department of Public Works utilizes biodiesel fuel for the county's vehicle fleet, officials said.