Government

Cranston City Council OKs $5 Million Climate Bond

A $5 million bond proposal to reduce Cranston’s carbon footprint by funding investments in renewable energy and energy conservation was unanimously approved by the City Council on June 22.

The vision for the bond money is that it will go into reinforcing existing infrastructure with energy-efficient updates, as well as the installation of electric-vehicle charging stations, efficient lighting, and solar panels throughout the city.

City Council member Steve Stycos, who proposed the climate bond in a committee meeting in April, said, “I introduced it for the obvious reasons. We as a city need to contribute to combatting climate change, and city buildings are, as a group, old, and there’s a lot of room for improvement in energy efficiency.”

The bond initially met some resistance from council members, who wanted more specifics on what the money could be used for.

“There was skepticism at first from some of our colleagues on the council,” said John Donegan, co-sponsor of the bond with Stycos and a City Council member for Ward 3. “They felt it was a little vague and wanted to know what specific projects this could finance.”

Stycos, a citywide elected council member, then reached out to various department heads to see what they could use the money for.

“When I asked the public works director if he had any suggestions, he mentioned putting LEDs in City Hall, and maybe doing something about the electric heating system in City Hall, and the library director talked about solar panels at Knightsville Library,” Stycos said of some of the ideas.

In addition to providing concrete examples of how the bond could be used, Cranston residents called their council members and urged them to consider passing the bond, which Donegan and Stycos think helped get it through.

“We were able to get the specific, concrete things that we could do with this money,” Donegan said. “And coupled with the activism of a lot of residents of Cranston and them reaching out, I think that’s what got it to pass.”

The bond will appear on the ballot in November. If approved and used by later administrations, the city would have a 20-year term to repay the bond. Both Stycos and Donegan are fairly confident of the public’s support for it in the elections.

“I think people recognize the importance of taking action now, and that we simply can’t wait,” Donegan said. “But while I’m confident it will pass, it won’t happen without continued engagement with the public and educating them on what this proposal is.”

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