Tyringham Man at Forefront of Economic Policy

By Nichole DupontiBerkshires Staff
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Steve Cowell with Gov. Deval Patrick last October at CSG's 25th anniversary.
TYRINGHAM, Mass. — From representatives in Washington to small-town homeowners trying to save money, climate control is on everyone's mind. So is the tight economy.

But there is a solution for both in sight, and it is Steve Cowell.

Cowell, a longtime resident of Tyringham, is one of the founders  of  the Home Star Coalition (which boasts 2,100 member organizations around the country) legislation that is currently winding its way through the U.S. Senate and will eventually land on President Obama's desk.

Home Star (which was originally referred to as "cash for caulkers") is a $6 billion program designed to help cash-strapped homeowners defray expenses through a federal energy efficiency tax credit or a rebate of up to 50 percent of the total cost. And that's not all.

"It's this simple: Home Star equals jobs," Cowell said in a press release. "Passing this critical piece of legislation is one of the fastest, most efficient ways our government can do to help our country get back to work. The long-term societal and environmental benefits of Home Star are icing on the cake."

Cowell is no stranger to the effect of energy trends on the economy. As founder and CEO of Conservation Services Group (CSG) in 1984 and for the past 30 years, Cowell has been involved in conservation programs around the country and has successfully advocated for energy efficiency as an electric power supply option.

Under his leadership, CSG has designed and implemented conservation and renewable energy programs for utilities, state agencies and other groups throughout the U.S. and has provided water and power conservation services to nearly 2 million businesses and households. According Lisa Rinkus, spokeswoman for CSG since 1998, Cowell is a pioneer.

"He's been doing this long before it was popular," she said. "He has this anecdote he likes to tell about going to cocktail parties. In the 1980s, he'd tell people that he was in the conservation field and their eyes would glaze over. Of course, when he says that now, people are all ears and very interested."

While Cowell's anecdote is a testament to social evolution as it pertains to energy efficiency, it is also proof that, from the beginning, he has been walking the walk of conservation.

"In the 1970s, he moved to Tyringham and renovated a 6,500-square-foot barn," she said. "It is only $400 a year to run that house. That's dedication."

And it is from this house in the Berkshires (and from his CSG offices in Westborough and across the nation and in Washington) that Cowell continues to push for conservation legislation that will also produce jobs, especially in construction, one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. He was recently honored at the annual Affordable Comfort Home Performance Conference in Austin, Texas, for his work in energy efficiency.

"Nothing could be more American than passing this critical piece of legislation. Home Star equals jobs in the USA that can't be outsourced to other countries," said Cowell. "For construction workers, manufacturers, truckers, retailers and others hardest hit by the labor market. Passing this legislation is critical to helping get these people back on their feet."

Updated Aug. 2, 3:32 p.m., for minor edits.

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Conservative State Candidates Pitch Campaigns in Pittsfield

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Candidate Dean Martilli, with the Kathryn Mickle of the Berkshire County Republicans, was one of three conservative candidates pitching their campaigns at the meet and greet. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire County Republican Association recently hosted congressional candidate Dean Martilli at the Berkshire Hills County Club.

The West Springfield native spoke of his priorities to secure the U.S. border, deflate inflation, gain energy independence, and restore parental rights.  

He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and is founder and principal of Martilli & Associates, an independent public-policy and governmental affairs firm that specializes in strategic planning, business development, marketing, and communications.

In the fall, he will challenge the incumbent in the 1st Massachusetts District, Democrat Richard Neal, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years and is the chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

The Republican association's Kathryn Mickle introduced him. About 20 attended the event, including an appearance from Ward 2 Councilor Charles Kronick. 

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