Remember all those nice sounding goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by this or that percent by such and such a year? Whether it's 50% reduction by 2050, or 80% reduction by 2020, or 100% reduction by 2100, the numbers were meant to stir action, but instead serve as place holders for good intentions while life goes on as usual.
Princeton's contribution to goal setting came in 2007, when mayors Miller and Trotman signed the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7% from 1990 levels by 2012. Though the founders of Sustainable Princeton got some potentially useful data for 2006, no one knows how much energy Princeton used back in 1990, and no one's looking at how much energy we're using now.
Numbers matter, particularly those that slowly build and build, just below the radar screen of the news media until suddenly we have a brand new crisis on our hands. In an effort to at least track some of Princeton's contribution to a global problem, I looked into how we could get numbers from PSEG for Princeton's consumption of electricity and natural gas. It turns out that PSEG can provide these numbers back to 2007. With some help from municipal staff and the chair of the Princeton Environmental Commission, I was able to gather all the information needed by PSEG for them to provide energy use data for Princeton's residential, business, industrial, public school and municipal sectors.
Now it's a matter of waiting until PSEG provides the numbers.