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Monday, March 21, 2016

Westport Lauded as Clean Energy Leader

By James Lomuscio

Connecticut’s clean energy future seems bright, according to a Town Hall forum tonight that drew about 25 persons. 

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Tonight’s clean energy forum praised Westport’s clean energy efforts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

And leading the way is Westport, cited as “a great example” of a community taking the reins.

The auditorium forum was orchestrated by state Rep. Johnathan Steinberg, who had invited Acadia Center, a nonprofit clean energy advocacy group, to discuss alternative energy advancements over the past decade, plus future efforts.

At the last minute, Steinberg, who had been scheduled to give a legislative perspective on state efforts, was unable to attend due to a family emergency.

“I am a big supporter of clean energy,” said Steinberg, who was recently named a 2016 Clean Energy Champion by the Boston-based Northeast Clean Energy Council, prior to the meeting.

“The transition to renewable energy sources helps us protect our environment, conserve our natural resources and reduce energy costs for the consumer,” he added.

Acadia officials stepped in for Steinberg, as did Westporter Peter Boyd, president and CEO of time4good.net, a Westport-based clean energy consulting group.

Boyd said Westport is one of the growing number of communities aiming toward a “net zero impact” from energy use by 2050.

“The paradigm is shifting now,” said Tyler Soleau, energy and climate outreach director for Acadia’s Boston office.

Acadia also has offices in Hartford, Providence, New York City, Rockport, Maine, and Ottowa, Canada.

“We are in the midst of a revolution,” said Soleau.

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Jamie Howland, director, energy efficiency & demand-side initiative, Acadia Center, addresses tonight’s forum. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“The new ways we generate, deliver and use energy are offering communities and neighborhoods exciting opportunities to benefit from local,clean, and efficient energy options and move away from their reliance on fossil fuels.

“However, reforming our existing and outdated utility model is necessary to allow these transformative projects and notable developments in community energy to flourish. We can all work towards this transition.

“And Westport is a great example,” he said, saying how the town has become “educated and excited about energy at the local level.”

Other members on tonight’s panel included Jamie Howland, Acadia’s director of energy efficiency and demand side initiative, and Mark Robbins, president of MHR Development, Clean Energy & Infrastructure Solutions.

Pippa Bell Ader, vice chair of the Westport Green Task Force, talked earlier about Westport’s clean energy achievements, such as electric vehicle charging stations at the Metro-North Westport station in Saugatuck, and the installation of solar panels at the town’s transfer station and the Longshore Club Park golf maintenance building.

Over the past decade the town has taken myriad environmentally friendly steps, from banning plastic bags to single stream recycling to encouraging households to reduce their carbon footprints by changing to compact florescent light bulbs.

“The very interesting thing about a town going net zero is that everybody is in on it,” said Boyd, who lauded the Green Task Force.

He also praised the Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center, where he is a board member, for educating the next generation about progress toward net zero impact.

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Posted 03/21/16 at 10:24 PM  Permalink



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