MARQUETTE - The Alger Energy Savers program wrapped up with one final award of $2,500 worth of Energy Star appliances to a Munising couple.
The program was developed by Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust in Marquette. Funding was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Installation and energy outreach discussions were conducted by Michigan Energy Options, also of Marquette. ICY International contributed with program design, analysis and branding.
The AES program was initiated to educate citizens in Alger county about climate change and its affects on National Parks, to quantifiably reduce energy usage and to motivate citizens to pursue further energy saving solutions in their homes and businesses.
"Our energy consumption habits lead to emissions that are known to create climate change, and climate change affects all of us, particularly the resources found in a national park," said Greg Bruff, the park's chief of heritage education.
In total, the program reached 305 homes, installed 3,194 energy efficiency measures in homes and worked with 30 local businesses.
Bruff said the Pictured Rocks National lakeshore is already beginning to see the negative effects of climate change.
"Some of the change we're seeing in our environment are shorter winters, less ice on Lake Superior, and Munising Bay is an example," he said. "This affects not only the natural ecosystem but also our economic ecosystem here in the Upper Peninsula."
Whitefish populations in Lake Superior may be in danger, Bruff said, as a result of warmer temperatures which create less of an ice cover on the lake. Whitefish are somewhat dependent on that ice cover to protect their eggs over the winter.
Also, with warmer temperatures comes an increase in invasive plants and animals that will begin to replace the natives in the area, such as an increase in deer ticks, which can carry Lyme disease.
"It's projected that the forest cover we enjoy right now here in the U.P. is going to change to trees and other plants that can tolerate warmer, drier conditions," Bruff said. "We'll probably continue to see new animal species that have not been common here before as the climate warms."
The energy efficiency measures taken by the AES home visit program resulted in an estimated 1,783,000 kilowatt hours of electricity saved over the lifetime of the products and an estimated reduction of 2,054 tons of carbon dioxide, a primary greenhouse gas. Residents are expected to save $320,900 over the lifetime of those measures.
Through 30 business visits, the AES program provided 527 free energy efficiency measures for the businesses to install, resulting in an estimated 124,430 kilowatt hours saved over the lifetime of the products and an estimated carbon abatement of more than 150 tons, saving the businesses $9,100.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.