The challenges of energy and sustainability do not adhere to municipal boundaries. There are many advantages to collaborating with other cities through the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office:
The Regional Energy Office offers an opportunity for members to pool their resources to develop energy programming for their communities that might normally be beyond the reach of the city in these tough budget times due to staff restrictions or capitalization challenges.
The Regional Energy Office can help cities develop shared staff capacity to implement local programs and projects, leveraging grants and other funding sources beyond tax dollars.
Energy efficiency programs in particular offer hard financial benefits to the community from savings that easily outstrip the costs of implementing the project. This helps municipalities and residents reduce costs while helping to address a pressing environmental challenge.
More than anything else, the Regional Energy Office provides a route for intergovernmental collaboration, bringing municipalities together to build a clean energy economy and transform the image of the metro Detroit region.
In recent years, rising energy costs have strained already tight municipal budgets. Reducing energy use and converting to renewable sources can create cost savings and reduce reliance on imports, which means more money for local economies.
What’s more, these strategies lead to a cleaner environment with reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improving public health and slowing global climate change. By taking aggressive yet achievable steps to reform energy use, Michigan communities can create an environment of growth and innovation, breaking away from lingering rust belt stereotypes.
Municipal leaders may know what should be done, but especially in smaller communities, they lack the staff and expertise to implement specific initiatives. Many energy efficiency or renewable energy programs also require significant start-up investments, which communities often cannot afford on their own.
Overall, Michigan is behind the nation in the implementation of energy efficiency policies and technologies. Moreover, communication about our successes in Michigan is piecemeal, hindering information sharing and the potential for collaboration. By unifying efforts across several municipalities and telling our collective story, we can enhance southeast Michigan’s profile as a great, green place to live.