Solar Bylaw Boosters Regroup

Fairhaven, Carver and Dartmouth have one, and the Energy Management Committee wants Marion to have one, as well: a solar bylaw that would allow for a community solar garden on the town’s capped landfill via a Municipal Solar Overlay District.

The proposal would also formalize the process for installing residential solar arrays on parcels of one or more acres in town. Just last week, Mattapoisett agreed to propose a solar bylaw for their town.

The Marion EMC met on Monday evening at the Marion Music Hall to discuss their presentations for the Annual Town Meeting that starts on May 13.

“We don’t want to be left behind,” member Jennifer Francis said. “Our job is to explain to town residents the levels of oversight and the importance of our town accomplishing this important energy-saving initiative.”

The Committee agreed that the complex subject required public education on the technology and permitting process involved.

“We will bring it to the public at town meeting and let them decide,” member David Pierce said.

At issue is the Marion Planning Board, which has objected to many aspects of the policy.

Because the warrant issue of a solar bylaw doesn’t involve a fiscal issue at this time, the Committee wondered if its placement on the warrant would be later in the evening when the ranks thin out as people depart the town meeting.

“We need a quorum to understand and vote on this issue, which is vital to Marion’s future,” Pierce said.

“We support our proposed solar bylaw as it stands,” Chairman Bill Saltonstall said. Both Saltonstall and Francis spent a part of the day in Fairhaven with town officials discussing the success of their solar installation, to be built within the next three to six months.

The EMC has been working to get facts and figures of how much energy the town uses and how to make it more efficient with technology. Committee member Norman Hills noted that the town spent approximately $125,000 in gasoline costs, excluding diesel fuel, last year. Hills noted that the Committee’s purpose is to examine energy use by the town and find ways to reduce energy costs.

The Committee discussed Fairhaven’s initiative to go street by street and replace town lighting with LED lighting, whose life span is 10 years longer than traditional lighting. Hills noted that there is a national lighting program which monitors town lighting needs and dims according to lighting needs by weather monitoring.

“The technology out there is amazing,” Hills said. “We need to educate citizens to see the savings to the town that comes with this technology.”

The Committee is looking for additional members to help find additional ways to make Marion more energy efficient. To join, call David Pierce at 508-748-2372.

The next EMC meeting will take place at the Marion Music Hall on June 4 at 7:00 pm.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry

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