National Arbor Day Foundation
Honors Massena and Its Electric Department
September 7, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MASSENA —A popular New York Power Authority program
that encourages the planting of trees had such an impact on the
upstate Village of Massena that the National Arbor Foundation
singled it out for honors. The Foundation named Massena a “Tree
City USA Community” and conferred upon its municipal utility, the
Massena Electric Department, the designation “Tree Line Utility.”
Massena is one of only 60 communities nationwide
that have this dual designation, the highest honor bestowed by the
National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest
Service and the National Association of State Foresters for
promoting the planting and care of trees.
Massena’s arboreal enthusiasm began four years ago
when Andrew McMahon arrived as the new superintendent of its
municipal electric department. McMahon had seen data that showed
that planting trees near homes and commercial buildings would lead
to cooler temperatures during the summer and less air conditioning
McMahon took advantage of a Power Authority program
called Tree Power that allowed municipal electric systems in the
state to get a free tree for each that it purchased on its own.
Massena Electric has been buying and planting trees in profusion
ever since. This year it took delivery of 200 trees – a veritable
“The Power Authority’s tree program is a win-win,”
McMahon said recently. “The trees beautify the town and the
resulting shade means that we use less of the Power Authority’s
limited low-cost hydropower during the summer to cool our homes. Our
partnership with the Power Authority should continue to pay
dividends for generations to come.”
Since the Power Authority’s tree program took root
14 years ago, its customers have planted over 37,000 maples, honey
locusts and Norway spruce trees among others throughout the state.
Trees planted near homes and buildings can reduce
energy use through shading and a phenomenon known as
evapo-trans-piration, (when a plant actively moves and releases
water vapor) by as much as six degrees Fahrenheit, according to a
recent study. That reduces summer air-conditioning costs by as much
as 25 percent.
Less well known is the ability of trees to serve as
windbreaks against cold and wind chill. A study in South Dakota
found that homes can benefit from strategically placed trees and
shrubbery and save as much as one-third on heating bills.
In the nation’s urban areas alone, the National
Academy of Sciences estimates that there’s room to plant over 100
million additional trees. Doing so would result in annual energy
savings of 50 billion kilowatt-hours—roughly one quarter of the 200
billion kilowatt-hours consumed every year by air conditioners and
heat pumps in the United States.
In addition to all that, trees help prevent
erosion, protect water supplies, create habitat for wildlife, and
clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
“They are also beautiful,” adds McMahon.
Tim Carey, President of the New York Power
Authority, is an enthusiastic booster of the Tree Power Program.
“When treated with sensitivity and care, New York’s trees will
continue to provide the oxygen, shade, wood, food, and the climatic
stability necessary for our survival and prosperity,” he said. “They
will also play an important role in Governor Pataki’s bold ethanol
initiatives in New York State, freeing us at last from our
dependence on foreign oil. Still, we must think about them as
something much more than commodities to exploit, regarding them
instead as living things that produce our breathable atmosphere and
enhance the quality of our lives.”
■ NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.
It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues
earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a
leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and
electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation’s
largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities
in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of