Energy-Saving Trees Program: PSEG Long Island Provided 1,000 Free Trees to Customers

PSEG tree giveaway
CCE-Nassau County Horticulture Assistant K.C. Alvey (left) helped with the distribution of free trees to PSEG customers and with giving them planting advice.

On April 30, 2016, PSEG Long Island, in partnership with New York State Urban Forestry Council and the Arbor Day Foundation, provided 1,000 of its customers with a free tree through the Energy-Saving Trees program. Designed to conserve energy through strategic planting, the program will help PSEG Long Island customers save up to 20 percent on their summer energy bills once the trees are fully grown, while also improving air quality and reducing storm water run-off for all residents across the company’s service territory.

“The Energy-Saving Trees program brings multiple benefits to Long Island, helping our customers save money on their energy bills and helping to improve the environment,” said Michael Voltz, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewables, PSEG Long Island. “The program also helps our customers better understand how the right trees in the right location can reduce their utility bills and promote ongoing system reliability.”

PSEG Long Island customers reserved their free trees at www.arborday.org/pseglongisland, an online tool that helps customers estimate the annual energy savings that will result from planting trees in the most strategic location near their homes or businesses. All customers that participated will receive one tree and are expected to care for and plant them in the location provided by the online tool, taking into account utility wires and obstructions. The types of trees offered include the following: Black Tupelo, Eastern Redbud, Black Tupelo, Scarlet Oak, and American Linden.

The program was launched on April 6, 2016 and ran for approximately three weeks, with all 1,000 trees reserved for customers across the PSEG Long Island service territory. Four distribution sites were established at PSEG Long Island offices in Roslyn, Hicksville, Brentwood and Riverhead, for customers to claim their trees on April 30, 2016.

“Energy savings is just one of the many benefits that trees provide,” said David Moore, President of the NYS Urban Forestry Council. “We hope this program will not only save folks money on their power bills, but also help beautify their homes and enrich the local environment.”

Here’s a video about the event:

The 1,000 trees are estimated to produce more than 1,531,357 kWh in energy savings within 20 years.

Mary K, Larry F, and Julie S
NYS Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk (left) with PSEG’s Larry Ferrandiz and NYC Parks Forester Julie Seghrouchni advised homeowners on planting technique and Right Tree, Right Place.

Mary Kramarchyk, New York State Urban Forestry Program Manager said, “Planting trees for energy conservation is a priority of the urban forestry program throughout New York State. This project is a small step toward restoring the canopy lost to recent storms and to neighborhoods with very low tree cover.”

The “Energy-Saving Trees” online tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of Davey Tree Expert Co., and uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree software to calculate estimated benefits. In addition to providing approximate energy savings, the tool also estimates the trees’ other benefits, including cleaner air, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and improved storm water management. What follows is an article about the Energy-Saving Trees program.

Arbor Day Foundation’s Energy-Saving Trees Program

by James R. Fazio

You are probably familiar with Tree Line USA, Arbor Day Foundation’s modification of the highly successful, 40-year old Tree City USA program that was designed to promote sustainable stewardship of community trees. Some 140 utilities currently participate in Tree Line USA, created in cooperation with the Utility Arborists Association in 1992 to find a happy medium between line clearance and healthy street trees.

Now a new cooperative program is in its infancy and it promises to be another win-win for communities and utilities. It is the Energy-Saving Trees program, an innovative way to encourage home owners to plant trees that will effectively shade their houses and reduce summertime peak energy demand.

Energy-Saving Trees was developed in collaboration with The Davey Institute and powered by i-Tree. Twenty-four public and investor-owned utilities are already partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation. The exact approach differs by utility, but basically homeowners go to energysavingtrees.arborday.org to use an interactive satellite Earth view to locate their house.

Energy Saving Trees infographic
Accomplishments of the Energy-Saving Trees Program through the Fall of 2015.

Then, tree species provided by the cooperating utility in their community are listed, and icons representing the trees can be moved to any location around the house. As the virtual trees on the screen are moved around the yard, the energy savings by species and site is automatically calculated and displayed. The homeowner then makes a selection and the trees are provided by the utility. In some cases, 2- to 4-foot (.6- to 1.2-m) tall bare root saplings are sent direct from the Arbor Day Foundation to participating home owners. In other cases, larger caliper trees are purchased locally and distributed either by the utility or a volunteer partner.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has been a pioneer in this arena. Since 1990, SMUD has partnered with the Sacramento Tree Foundation (STF) and now uses the online program to allow homeowners to make their selection from 38 deciduous species or cultivars. In this case, STF members handle the planting and require that the selected site be the most efficient for energy savings. Misha Sarkovich, SMUD’s program manager, says that while costs of the program are not totally offset by reduced energy demand, SMUD’s investment “provides a stream of benefits for the future.” These include the eco-services provided by trees such as improved air quality, aesthetics, and storm water retention. He also cites the non-measurable public relations benefits of the program as being extremely important.

Idaho Power joined the Energy-Saving Trees program in 2013, making 3,000 large-caliper trees available to homeowners for planting on the west side of their houses. Idaho Power is a key partner in the Treasure Valley Canopy Network, which consists of regional agencies, arborists, and city foresters and is now taking on additional projects to improve urban forestry throughout the region. By all estimates, the Energy-Saving Trees program has been highly successful. Patti Best, program specialist for Idaho Power, says, “I love any opportunity to talk about this program.” More information about it is provided at the Network’s website: www.tvcanopy.net.

As of spring of 2015, the Energy-Saving Trees program was responsible for some 125,000 trees distributed to approximately 70,000 homeowners since launching the program in 2011. The Arbor Day Foundation’s 3,366 Tree City USA communities are being encouraged to take a close look at the Energy-Savings Tree program and ask non-participating utilities to join in this nationwide effort. It is a win-win program with endless opportunities for great public relations and significant environmental contributions. More information about the program is available at energysavingtrees.arborday.org.

 

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