On the Path to a Greener Marion  by Jennifer Francis and Marion's Energy Management Committee

By jafrancis | Mar 02, 2012

As the price of energy continues to rise, we all look for ways to use less and save money. This is true for individuals, families, businesses, and communities. The state of Massachusetts has developed a program called the Green Communities Act to help towns do just that. It provides incentives to reduce energy costs through conservation and improved efficiency, and it encourages a transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. When a town achieves the Green Community Designation, doors are opened to grants, funded by your tax dollars, that support further activities related to energy efficiency and reduced dependence on fossil fuels. As of this writing, 81 Massachusetts communities have been designated “Green” under this program, and the effort has played an important role in Massachusetts being ranked #1 in the United States for energy efficiency*. This is an achievement to be proud of, but so far Marion has not contributed to this success. Shouldn’t we? Marion’s Energy Management Committee thinks so, and we’ve already taken some initial steps down this path.

For a town to be designated a Green Community under this program, it must meet five criteria:

  1. Designate areas that are zoned for research and development related to non-fossil-fuel energy technology, or for manufacturing of these kinds of products.
  2. Adopt an expedited permitting process to allow enterprises to use the facility created by criterion #1.
  3. Develop a plan to reduce the community’s energy use by 20% over a 5-year period.
  4. Purchase fuel-efficient models when town-owned vehicles need to be replaced (note this does not currently apply to heavy-duty vehicles -- such as trucks, ambulances, and vans -- nor to police cruisers). 
  5. Adopt construction regulations to minimize energy use over a building’s projected lifetime.

The Energy Management Committee has begun to gather information that will allow us to address these criteria. For example, we have assembled data for energy use in all the town’s buildings and facilities, and we engaged an energy auditor to identify ways to improve efficiency.  Marion spends over $500,000 per year on electricity, oil, and gas, and we expect to find numerous ways to reduce this cost. We are also developing an inventory of town vehicles to determine which are candidates for replacement with  more fuel-efficient models when the time comes.

Stay tuned for upcoming EnergyWise articles during coming months, as we will provide further details about each of the five Green Community criteria, as well as the steps Marion is taking to achieve them.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Concerned Dad | Mar 02, 2012 17:39

Fight this with all your heart! Fight the Stretch Energy Code, This Green Energy Scam comes from the perceived threat of Global Warming. Al Gores biggest farce perpetrated on the American People. Stretch Energy Code will increase building costs making housing more unaffordable. Green is the New Red! Please research and investigate UN Agenda 21, ICLEI USA. They are taking away property rights. Please do NOT let them use your love of the environment against you! This will cost every taxpayer in Marion



Posted by: jafrancis | Mar 05, 2012 21:22

Dear Concerned Dad --

I have to wonder if you actually read this article, as you seem to have completely missed the point. Did you read that Marion spends over $500,000 per year on energy? Did you understand that this effort is aimed at saving the town money and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels? This is a good idea for so many reasons. If you prefer to ignore the mountains of peer-reviewed scientific evidence confirming global climate change, that's your choice, but because you are a Concerned Dad, I would think the goal of not sending our youth to the Middle East to ensure our oil supply isn't interrupted might strike a chord with you. If you have constructive ideas for solving our energy problems, perhaps you'd like to share them.



Posted by: AJ Trip | Mar 07, 2012 19:07

Like other proponents of the Green Communities nonsense, Jennifer Francis is intentionally obscuring the truth. On point 1 she says:

"Designate areas that are zoned for research and development related to non-fossil-fuel energy technology, or for manufacturing of these kinds of products."

 

This is a lie. The Green Communities Act requires that towns pass a by-law designating "as-of-right" siting in a community for "green" energy facilities. As of right siting means that the facility can be built without site-plan approval from the town, building permits will not be required, and abutters will not have to be notified.

 

Anyone who doesn't believe me needs to look no further than Dartmouth, where 17-acres of property were bulldozed in a residential area on Hixbridge and Old Fall River Roads, not 50 feet from residences to build a 9,000-panel solar farm with stadium lighting (to prevent vandalism). Abutters were not told. The town claims it's powerless to do anything in response. The company building the facility does not have a building permit. The media has covered the story in Dartmouth extensively.

 

Proponents of Green Communities obscure these facts because they know no one will be stupid enough to relinquish all of their property rights for technology that's questionable at best and nothing more than a government payoff to large developers at worst.



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