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Energy committee plans to expand activities


$127,781 grant received for energy improvements


April 29, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Nancy Hirshberg, Chair of the Wolfeboro Energy Conservation Committee, appeared before selectmen at their April 7 meeting to update them on the results and current plans of the committee.

She reviewed the history of the committee, which was formed as a result of a 2007 warrant article. The mission of the committee is "to identify opportunities for the town of Wolfeboro and its residents to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and to work to assure that cost-effective energy efficiency practices and GHG reduction strategies are implemented town-wide."

Six members were appointed to the committee in 2007. The initial focus was on municipal energy use and finding ways to reduce energy use by town government before tackling residential and commercial energy use. The plan was to take a strategic approach to identify where energy use was greatest and where the opportunities to reduce energy use were greatest.

The first step was to set up a baseline of energy data and create an ongoing tracking system. The committee secured a grant that allowed Public Works Director Dave Ford to hire a Dartmouth student to gather town energy use data, set up the tracking system and to highlight priority areas for reduction plans.

The results of that effort were presented to selectmen in 2008.

The committee also organized a Climate Change Briefing in October 2007 that was attended by more than 100 people and workshops in February 2008 on reducing home energy use and energy efficient home building and remodeling. It put on the first Lakes Region Energy Expo at Kingswood High School in November 2008 that was attended by more than 400 people. The Wentworth Economic Development Corp. became the fiduciary agent for the committee in putting on the expo. With the help of Wolfeboro Community TV all of the workshops and presentations were recorded and made available as an energy efficiency DVD resource at the public library.

A short-term energy reduction goal for the town of 10 percent was set and met. A lighting and energy audit was performed and lighting retrofits were made at the public safety building, library, ice rink, highway department garages, and water treatment plant

Through the committee, the town became an ICLEI community, taking advantage of an organization that helps governments focus on sustainable practices, including energy use.

The Municipal Electric Department also implemented Net Metering, which allows customers generating electricity from renewable resources to feed their excess power onto the grid.

The most recent effort by the committee was to help the town apply for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) to improve energy efficiency and reduce total energy use. There were 271 grant proposals totaling $21 million chasing $6 million in available funding, but Wolfeboro's proposal for $127,721 was approved. It included $64,331 for energy efficiency measures in the public safety building and armory, $12,200 for an audit of the Pop Whalen Arena, and $53,250 for municipal energy planning.

Hirschberg credited Committee Member Bob Lemaire for the success of the grant effort.

Next steps

Beyond continuing to work with town departments to track energy usage and identify opportunities for increased efficiency and energy reduction, Hirshberg said the committee would like to work with Town Planner Rob Houseman on an overall energy plan and to inventory non-municipal energy use to help residential and commercial energy users in Wolfeboro.

The committee would also like to hold an Energy Fair. The renovation at Kingswood poses a problem in putting on such an event in the short term.

Hirshberg concluded by saying the committee itself could use some high-energy people to help it expand and accelerate its efforts. Anyone interested should call Town Manager Dave Owen at 569-8161 or contact him by e-mail at wolftwnmgr@metrocast.net.

Martin Lord Osman
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