47th Ward Council Meeting: Earn Rewards for Saving Energy

By Patty Wetli | Monday, April 16, 2012

Swapping out old light bulbs is just one way to save energy and earn rewards points. Credit: Flickr/Muffet

At last week’s meeting of the 47th Ward Council, held at the Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club, 2501 W. Irving Park Rd., Ald. Ameya Pawar announced a partnership with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) that will earn residents rewards for saving energy.

CUB Energy Saver program is an online service that provides more than 100 actions residential customers can take to reduce their energy consumption, from turning the water off when brushing teeth to raising the thermostat on air conditioning. By linking the service to your ComEd account, you’ll see the actual dollars associated with each of your actions.

Participants will earn rewards points for every kWh saved, which can be redeemed for discounts at a variety of retailers. Pawar noted that his office is working with area businesses to secure local rewards.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to go green and doing it incrementally,” said Pawar. To encourage residents to enroll, the service has been set up as a competition of sorts. A landing page on the Energy Saver website divides the ward into 22 teams, tracking aggregate savings for each group. If teams go gangbusters with savings, Pawar hinted at a drawing where the grand prize could be the winner having their utilities paid for a year.

The program has already been implemented in cities such as Evanston, but the 47th Ward is piloting the program in Chicago.

What’s on the menu?

Each year, aldermen receive $1.3 million in aldermanic menu money–dollars that must be spent on public improvement projects. After taking office in 2011, Pawar and his staff noticed a conflict between services: The office would spend menu money to have a street resurfaced, only to have that same street torn up weeks later by utility crews installing sewers or replacing gas lines.

A new menu program now allows each ward to see what projects ComEd, Peoples Gas, CDOT and the city have planned. For example, every city water main more than 100 years old will be torn up over the next 10 years. The 47th Ward office now has a map of where all those mains exist. This information has been layered over the ward’s grid of streets, along with all other utility projects, and compared against block audits and residents’ calls to 3-1-1 complaining about particular streets, alleys, curbs, etc. in need of repair.

“If your street has a 100-year-old water main and it’s not a complete mess, we’ll fill potholes but we won’t fully resurface,” Pawar explained of the way his office will use the new information.

The various maps and proposed aldermanic menu projects for 2012 can be viewed online. Big ticket items include $174,000 to resurface Leavitt from Foster to Winnemac; $131,000 to repave Irving Park’s sidewalk from Greenview to Southport; and $100,000 for the Berteau Greenway. Smaller expenses with greater significance: $5,000 to replace the flagpole in Northcenter’s Town Square, hopefully in time for Memorial Day, and $1,600 for two pedestrian signs on Addison, an experiment to slow traffic at intersections near schools where there’s no crossing guard present.

Community for all ages

As more senior citizens opt to remain in their homes as they age, the challenge for the 47th Ward becomes how to engage elderly residents as part of the community. A call went out to neighbors interested in participating in a senior initiative, and the Senior Council was born.

Karen Kolb, a member of the Senior Council, presented at the ward meeting. “We have to think about our whole families,” she said. “As people grow older, their social circles shrink. When you’re planning events, be inclusive in thinking about older adults. Help them to find a role that can help them participate.”

The next ward council meeting, which all residents of the ward are welcome to attend, is scheduled for May 16.



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