Municipal Systems, NYPA Use "Tree Power" Program to Help the Environment and Provide Savings

Michael Saltzman

July 16, 2004


WHITE PLAINS—New York State will be greener and cooler in the coming years as a result of the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Tree Power program.  This is due to the nearly 1,100 trees purchased this year by 13 municipal electric systems, served by NYPA, across New York State.  The aim of the program is to use the natural cooling of tree shade strategically located near homes and buildings to reduce energy use during the peak summer season helping lower energy costs. 

“With the enthusiastic participation of the Power Authority’s municipal systems, consumers will see the power of green both in the cooling shade of trees and in the extra green in their pockets,” said Eugene W. Zeltmann, NYPA’s president and chief executive officer.  “The program helps emphasize Governor George E. Pataki’s track record of enhancing the natural beauty of New York State with environmentally-smart energy saving know-how.”

Zeltmann added, “A study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2001 found summer temperatures to be as much as six degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in others, thereby reducing demand for electricity to run air conditioners and fans, and helping to lower utility bills in the family budget.” 

Participating municipal electric systems this year are: the Villages of Bergen (20 trees), Endicott (20), Fairport (100), Greene (60), Groton (18), Holley (60), Little Valley (50), Mayville (50), Springville (18), Westfield (320), Lake Placid, (150), Massena (208), and Mohawk (22). 

Created by the American Public Power Association (APPA) in 1991, Tree Power is a nationwide program encouraging public utility customers to plant trees.  Trees not only help conserve energy but also improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide emissions.  The Power Authority’s participation was immediate in 1991 with the planting, by the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, of the first sapling which is now a 32 foot specimen.  The Tree Power program has received enthusiastic support from NYPA customers because of its application as both a beautification process and an energy-saving program. 

Originally designed by the Power Authority for all of its municipal and rural electric cooperative customers, NYPA’s Tree Power program was extended in 1995 to include NYPA’s governmental customers in Southeastern New York.  Participants “buy-one-tree and get-one-free” from a selection of seven tree varieties including ash, spruce and flowering trees.  Participants also receive instructions for proper care of the trees.  The orders are processed by the Baldwinsville based New York State Nursery/ Landscaping Association and were delivered this past spring.

While municipal electric systems participate annually, government customers partake in the program biannually and participated last year.  The NYPA Tree Power program has planted approximately 35,000 trees—nearly one and a half times as many trees as are in New York City’s Central Park. 

NYPA supplies low-cost clean energy, generated by its hydroelectric facilities, to 51 municipal and rural electric cooperatives throughout the state, which in turn provide their customers with lower cost power.  In addition to the Tree Power program, the Power Authority has undertaken a wide ranging series of energy-efficiency and clean energy initiatives at more than 2,500 public facilities which are saving New York’s taxpayers nearly $86 million annually in municipal electric costs and reducing greenhouse-gas emission by 620,000 tons a year. .