EMC on Verge of New Identity

            The Marion Energy Management Committee is looking to establish an updated identity in accordance with its current focuses and efforts.

            For several months, a sense of need to make such a change has been brewing, and the membership agreed during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting on a name change to propose to the Select Board. The members wish to drop “management” and replace it with “climate resilience,” thereby adding a letter to their acronym (i.e., Energy and Climate Resilience Committee = ECRC).

            While acknowledging that the EMC is not authorized to implement and advertise any change until the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan has been approved and the Select Board endorses the EMC’s intentions, committee Chair Christian Ingerslev thought it appropriate for the membership to settle on an updated identity reflecting the committee’s practices.

            While the members agreed on the end game, Eileen Marum and Jennifer Francis brought differing tactical perspectives to the round table on the committee’s new name, specifically the inclusion of the word “climate.” Francis noted that the word is a non-starter for many who see it as a polarizing and politicized term, but Marum considers climate the driver of the EMC’s charter and therefore essential to the title.

            A conclusion was reached when member Tom Friedman suggested linking climate with the word resilience (the alternative word debated), and all voted in favor, including members Alanna Nelson and Bill Saltonstall.

            Of more immediate urgency was the committee’s sense of ‘carpe diem’ where it concerns two major municipal construction projects facing Marion.

            Given Town Meeting’s vote last week to approve the Marion’s apportionment of matching funds, as required by the Seaport Economic Council’s $303,000 grant for design work toward a new Maritime Center, Saltonstall urged EMC membership to submit opinions on the design.

            Given run of the ship, the EMC would design net-zero buildings for the harbormaster’s new headquarters and the new Department of Public Works. At the very least, the committee believes its suggestions of green utilities should be seriously considered.

            “We’ve got to make sure these things are incorporated in the design work,” said Saltonstall, whose son, Will Saltonstall’s, architectural firm won the bid to design the new DPW and will be guiding the implementation of however the town decides to power up the new facilities.

            Nelson pointed out that, so far, electricity has not been addressed in the plans as laid out for these projects, so now is the time for the EMC to try and influence the projects.

            Ingerslev said that the new DPW will come before Town Meeting in the spring. “We ought to get our ducks in a row,” he said.

            Marion’s year-long wait on Eversource to send a quote for the cost of a connection at the Benson Brook Landfill where the committee had been planning a solar project and massive system upgrades may finally end in November, but EMC members are trying to decipher a message that Nelson relayed regarding an additional $2,000 to $5,000 in fees. Given Eversource’s original quote of approximately $600,000, additions in those amounts would be considered good news.

            According to Saltonstall, the state’s Green Communities program is focused on reducing Marion’s energy use. “They don’t seem to care that the Town of Marion is buying 98-percent of its power from Future Generation Wind,” he said.

            Solar arrays have been discussed at potential locations such as Sippican Elementary School, the Police Department, and over parking areas. Nelson reported that Lisa Sullivan from Green Communities said those projects are eligible but lower priority when compared to Green Communities’ interest in heat pumps, etc.

            Citing Green Communities’ focus on only residential solar projects, Francis suggested Nelson ask CVEC about installing solar arrays atop municipal buildings.

            Any new solar project on town land would put Marion over its net-metering allowance so, according to Nelson, the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) is looking at options for the town to sell electricity. Ingerslev said that solar energy will be used to cover the transition from fossil fuels to electric.

            Saltonstall reported that he obtained data on fuel used by Town of Marion cars, trucks, and propane usage, and uploaded that information onto the Mass Energy Insight Program website. The information, said Saltonstall, is transferring into the annual report that he has been trying to complete against a deadline.

            Saltonstall said he asked and will at no additional cost this year receive assistance from the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) in preparing his submission of the Green Communities report. SRPEDD Senior Environmental Planner Danica Belknap will visit the Town House on Friday, October 29, to work with EMC representatives.

            The next meeting of the EMC is scheduled for Monday, November 22, at 5:00 pm.

Marion Energy Management Committee

By Mick Colageo

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