David Pierce, the chair of the Marion Energy Management Committee, remarked that he had one goal for the committee at the start of his tenure – for the town to become a Green Community. Monday night the committee moved Marion a little closer to that goal.
Town Planner Gil Hilario, who could not attend the meeting, provided via email an update on the Town’s application to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The application is largely complete, but there were some items DOER needed clarified. Once the DOER receives the updated information, the town should receive news on the Green Communities designation within a few months.
Committee member Bill Saltonstall suggested the committee focus on using the initial grant money on short duration projects, saying, “If what we do with the first grant money takes a long time, it will hold us up getting more grant money.”
Pierce suggested the committee identify low-hanging fruit and recommend those projects to the Board of Selectmen, which makes the decision on the projects to pursue.
As a Green Community, the Town is committed to reducing its energy use by 20 percent in five years. Saltonstall proposed the committee look at fuel use by individual Town vehicles, which he described as a “big, big number.” He offered to look at Town records to determine how much fuel each vehicle is using.
The committee briefly revisited the question of the proposed solar array on Wareham Street. Pierce noted that he had attended a Tree Committee meeting, describing what he perceived as considerable angst over the clear-cutting for the solar project.
Christian Ingerslev, an Energy Management Committee member who had attended the Planning Board’s public hearing on the solar project earlier in the month, said he felt the Town was not getting enough out of the project to warrant its approval.
Committee member Eileen Marum, who is also a member of the Planning Board, lamented that the Town is “working toward energy independence,” and “working towards dealing with climate change.”
“The stumbling block is the tree-clearing,” said Marum.
In other matters, the committee’s longtime effort to acquire LED street light fixtures is close to fruition.
Saltonstall reported that delivery and installation of the lights will begin the first week of December and should be completed within two weeks of the start date. Saltonstall intends to perform inspection of the work, and he reminded the committee that, once the work is complete, grant applications could be submitted to reduce the total cost of the lights down to 60 percent.
Also during the meeting, committee member Jim Bride submitted an outline for a new effort to promote energy savings for local businesses.
Bride made a number of proposals in which the Town would help local businesses save energy and, in turn, ways in which local businesses could help the Town save energy.
Some of the ideas included installing smart meters and sensors in Town buildings to monitor energy use, a Town-hosted energy fair and a series of workshops to educate businesses on how to reduce energy use, and contacting major businesses like Cumberland Farms or Lockheed Martin to inquire how they manage and reduce energy costs and how that may be applied to town buildings.
The next meeting of the Marion Energy Management Committee is scheduled for January 28 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Music Hall.
Marion Energy Management Committee
By Sarah French Storer