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By: Jeff Mill
EAST HAMPTON >> The Town Council voted Tuesday to join a program to increase energy efficiency in town buildings by 20 percent over the next four years.
The council took the action to become “a Clean Energy Community” after listening to a presentation from the senior administrator for the program, which is sponsored by CL&P. By joining the program, the town becomes the 83th community out of the 169 in the state to enlist in the conservation and energy reduction program.
Under the program, the town voluntarily agrees to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018. The town also pledged to purchase 20 percent of its power from renewable sources.
If the town achieves that goal, it can receive a $5,000 grant to further improve energy efficiency, according to Rebecca A. Meyer. Meyer is the senior program administrator for CL&P’s conservation and land management programs, which includes the Clean Energy Community effort.
Meyer has been working with the town’s Clean Energy Task Force, which is participating in a pilot program that calculates how much energy per square foot is used in town-owned buildings.
Having the town join the program can also serve as a spur for private homes and businesses to make a similar commitment to reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency, Meyer said.
As part of the pilot program, an energy engineer “will do a walk-through of two town-owned buildings to see where we can get energy efficient systems, Meyer told the councilors. The buildings are rated as either “energy stars” – or “energy pigs,” she added.
If the town secures the grant, Meyer said, “We leave it up to the town to decide how to use it because we know each town is different.”
Meeting the requirement for getting 20 percent of the town’s energy from renewables can be done as simply asking if a third-party energy supplier if it gets a portion of its energy from renewable sources, Meyer said.
Participation in the program is voluntary, and there is no penalty to the town if it fails to meet the 20 percent goal – other than losing out on the grant and paying higher prices than it otherwise for its energy, Meyer explained.