Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina discusses the different initiatives that his city is taking to make itself for responsible about its energy consumption.
Amber Ayik: We’re here at the United States Conference of Mayors. Sitting here speaking with Mayor Anthony Fox of Charlotte, North Carolina. Mayor Fox, please tell us about the energy efficiency initiatives that Charlotte has implemented to date.
Anthony Fox: Well, Charlotte, North Carolina is working as hard as we can to build a sustainable community. We’ve done several things in the last seven months since I’ve been mayor to try advance that agenda. First thing is that I signed a U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Change agreement which had not been signed by our mayor for the last several years. And that had triggered a number of events that had been subsequent including an application for energy efficiency to develop block grant funding. We’ve got seventeen projects that we have that will be part of a $6.7 million development block grant process. That seventeen project list was developed after going out to our community and doing a number of town hall meetings with groups as diverse as the Sierra Club and our local energy provider, Duke Energy, to try to figure out what would have the most impact.
So we’ll be doing things like finally putting recycling receptacles out on center city streets, having electric vehicle hookups throughout the city, continuing to do energy retrofit programs with our city buildings, and also a neighborhood challenge grant that will put neighborhoods in competition with each other on reducing greenhouse gas issues. We’re also working to clean up the city’s fleet. We’re working hard to make sure that our neighborhoods have amenities nearby, and we’re trying to build out our sidewalk systems and so forth so that we can reduce travel times in automobiles. And transit, of course, is a big part of our strategy in Charlotte.
Amber Ayik: And so what do you see as what have been the challenges for you with energy efficiency especially as it relates to retrofitting and going back into the community into existing buildings?
Anthony Fox: Well, the challenge with retrofitting generally is that you have incentivize someone to think about doing it. And within city government, we have paid money to retrofit and that analysis to show the payback on it. But really the huge gains are out there in the residential area and the commercial area in making sure that as new buildings come online they do have the kind of innovations in sustainability that are allowed to move forward, but there’s an awful lot that has to get done to retrofit previously built projects, and it takes money. So we’re looking at things. We’ve just had an announcement in Charlotte with a project that’s going to allow some of our existing residential and commercial users to actually fold the cost of retrofit into their utility bills. So they’ll pay an additional amount, but it’ll amortize over time the cost of actually going through and retrofit today which is a huge benefit. That will increase jobs. It will also reduce light bills over time.
Amber Ayik: Now is that something that’s headed then by Duke Energy? Was this program headed by them and initiated by them?
Anthony Fox: Duke Energy is part of that collaboration. We’re also working with the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. That has just been announced, and the Department of Energy is supporting that alliance with a $20 million grant which will be spread across eight states within that region.