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Businesses Wary of Energy Saving Plan

DSC_0113Tania Barnes The owners of Whatever Tattoos, at 17 St. Marks Place, installed new, energy-efficient bulbs in April.

A push by Con Edison to reduce energy consumption across the city is placing a special emphasis on the East Village.

The Avenue A Project is a program sponsored by the utility that offers local businesses free energy-efficient bulbs and other upgrades to reduce power usage. But, according to Con Ed officials, the response so far has been less than stellar.

In 2008, Con Ed asked energy consultants with Comverge Inc. to help reduce power consumption in the neighborhood by about 5 megawatts by 2012. That’s roughly equivalent to the energy that would be used if a 60-watt incandescent light bulb were placed in every seat at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Despite such inducements as the lightbulbs and upgrades to heating and cooling systems, local businesses have mostly deflected the overtures of consultants. After two years, Comverge has managed to shave off 1.4 megawatts of power usage in the area.

Washington Teran, a consultant with Comverge, attributed the unenthusiastic response to mistrust by some business owners.

“It’s a lot of rejection,” Mr. Teran said, describing his efforts to canvass the neighborhood. “People think it’s too good to be true.”
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