Who says government is inefficient? Baltimore has reduced overall municipal energy use by 6.5 percent since 2006, and aims to double that in another two years, city officials say.
The amount of electricity consumed by all city buildings and facilities has dropped from 412 million kilowatt hours per year four years ago to 385 million kilowatt hours this year, according to a press release.
The city has been on a tear the past couple years to conserve energy and use it more efficiently, but the drop in electricity demand didn't come from just turning off lights - or letting streetlights burn out. The biggest reductions came from putting power-sipping LED lamps in city traffic lights, and from energy generated by the methane produced at the city's Back River sewage treatment plant, according to Cathy Powell, spokeswoman for the city's Department of General Services.
The city's sustainability plan and the state's Empower Maryland initiative both call for reducing energy consumption 15 percent by 2015. General Services Director Theodore Atwood says Baltimore should reach and exceed those goals.
More power-saving moves are in store, including negotiating new energy-performance contracts, putting more efficent water heaters in city buildings and libraries, and installing LED lamps in streetlights and parking garages. With those and other efforts, Atwood predicts the city should be able to reduce its energy use 12.9 percent by 2012 and 30 percent by 2020.
(Streetlight, 2008 Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam)