New ordinance would require property owners to report energy - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New ordinance would require property owners to report energy usage

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MADISON (WKOW)-- Going green and reducing our carbon footprint have been popular topics lately and there's a proposed ordinance in the city of Madison to accomplish that.

The ordinance would require businesses and city buildings that are 15,000 square feet or larger to submit their electricity, water and gas usage into a nationwide database managed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Rental properties with more than 35 units are also included, but only if the utilities are paid altogether and not by each individual tenant. More than 1,500 properties in the city fit these specifications.

The new ordinance was discussed during Wednesday night's Economic Development Committee meeting and received a wide array of reactions from the community. One of the major opponents is the Madison Chamber of Commerce.

"Mandating businesses to do that is going to cost businesses money. It is not going to achieve the goals of the ordinance," Vice President Delora Newton says.

Madison Alder David Ahrens co-authored the ordinance and says the business owners will be able to see how they rank amongst similar properties and will be inspired to make energy and cost saving changes.

"Commercial buildings are the largest single user of energy in the city. It's not cars, it's not residential, it's commercial buildings," Ahrens says.

Many opponents say they have a problem with it being mandated by the government. Property owners would be fined $50 to $250 per day if they decide to not file their information.

"We're offering as the chamber to work with the city and others on voluntary programs to help educate businesses how they can take those savings," Newton says.

Ahrens argues that voluntary programs don't work, saying just 1% of businesses opt to participate in similar programs. He says the ordinance has been passed in many other cities including Minneapolis and New York City  as well as the entire state of California. They all report significant improvement in energy conservation.

The Economic Development Committee decided to hold off on voting on the ordinance until its next meeting in January. Members hope to get more testimony from local groups and businesses. Eventually the ordinance will make it's way to the city council, which will have the final say.

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