Greenwich Audubon Celebrates Earth Day With A Look At Green Projects

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U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, speaks at an Earth Day event in Greenwich. At left is Bryan Garcia, CEO of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. At right is Stewart Hudson of Audubon Connecticut.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, speaks at an Earth Day event in Greenwich. At left is Bryan Garcia, CEO of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. At right is Stewart Hudson of Audubon Connecticut. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

GREENWICH, Conn. -- A group of people involved in financing “green” projects gathered Tuesday to celebrate Earth Day at an event at Audubon Greenwich.

But U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., delivered a cautionary note to the gathering. Although he said efforts at increasing alternative energy sources and green banks that lend money for green technology are important and he praised them.

“But it is not adequate for the task at hand. It is just not, particularly from the standpoint of climate change,” he said, citing severe storms and what may happen to low-lying areas and countries such as Bangladesh.

The entire cost of carbon use has to be calculated, Himes said, and that may have to be done through revenue neutral carbon taxes.

The concerns of people who are worried about change have to be taken into account, too, he said. Himes pointed to areas in Appalachia where the economy has been built on mining and using coal.

“It is a complete and radical change to your world to think that coal will be phased out,” he said.

The Earth Day event at Audubon Greenwich examined federal and state financing for clean energy.

Stewart Hudson, vice president and executive director of Audubon Connecticut, said the discussion focused on the positives.

“Many times people focus on the peril and danger, which is real, but we thought it would be a good idea to associate ourselves with some solutions to the problem,” Hudson said of clean energy.

One idea discussed was a “green bank” that helps to finance alternative technologies.

“I just think it is such a big story to tell, how these new innovative ways of financing the right stuff instead of the wrong stuff, costly dirty energy that doesn’t serve our needs, are happening,” Hudson said.

Although the state still has room to grow in developing alternative energy sources, he said the best method is to reduce energy use.

“What we like to focus on is that the best approach to saving energy is to use less by investing in efficiency,” Hudson said.

A few years ago, the state created the country’s first “green bank,” the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.

Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of CEFIA, said the green bank uses its funds to make it more attractive for private banks and institutions to get involved in clean energy projects.

A three-month campaign that CEFIA was involved with saw 50 Greenwich homeowners install solar panels on their homes, Garcia said.

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