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Meredith moves closer to forming energy committee

January 06, 2010
MEREDITH — The formation of a town energy committee is on the horizon as town officials work out details of the committee's scope.

Town Manager Phillip Warren presented a draft charge for a town energy committee during Monday's Selectmen's workshop.

According to the charge, the committee would serve as an advisory committee to the Selectmen on issues related to energy, conservation, sustainability, and greenhouse gas reduction and promote energy conservation for the town, its residents, and its businesses.

The committee's work will also be available to the Planning Board as a resource, especially for the next Master Plan update as well as provide assistance to nonprofit organizations.

According to the charge, some of the committee's objectives will include increasing public awareness and participation to reduce energy use and emissions, research energy-related issues, gather resources for residents, and businesses, and municipal entities. Aims also include developing a plan to address Meredith's long and short-term needs, including conducting an energy audit, researching grants, developing recommendations for the Board of Selectmen, and assessing town energy and greenhouse gas usage.

Selectman Chuck Palm also suggested the committee look into sustainable and renewable energy resources. He said he has been interested in installing a wind turbine on his own property, though there are no ordinances and guidelines for size or other factors.

Additionally Palm proposed possible incentives to make it easier to switch to renewable energy, such as having the town absorb some costs for the disposal of LED and fluorescent bulbs.

"I think we always have to be open-minded in terms of cost centers," said Board Chair Peter Brothers.

Warren said there are many municipal energy grants available, though an energy committee needs to be in place to apply for many of them.

The charge proposes that there be seven members on the committee, including representatives from the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the school district, a member of the Meredith business community or a chamber of commerce representative, and three Meredith residents with interest, skills, and experience related to energy.

Warren said a few residents have informally expressed interest to some staff members in being members of the committee.

The committee will work primarily with the Community Development Department with additional participation as needed from the Town Manager and other departments.

Dec. 31 is the possible date for when the committee will likely deliver their final report to the Selectmen. Warren said the committee is expected to remain a sort of standing committee after that date, providing review and information as needed.

All Selectmen present voiced their support for the committee.

"I'm really glad to see this," said Selectman Miller Lovett.

Selectman Colette Worsman said different points of view would be beneficial in looking at the issues of energy, especially as related to cost savings. Worsman said it would also be beneficial for the Energy Committee to work with other committees and projects, such as the community center.

"I see this as a potential success with a real potential for savings," Worsman said.

The charge will be smoothed out and brought before the Board during their next regular meeting.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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