TOPSHAM — After a group of residents helped the town secure a solar power purchase agreement earlier this year, Topsham selectmen agreed to create a permanent energy committee to tackle energy conservation projects going forward.

Selectmen recently voted unanimously to create the new five-person committee, and the town announced last week it needs residents to apply. Committee members will serve 3-year, staggered terms.

Select board Chair David Douglass said during an Aug. 20 meeting that for the past 18 months, Topsham Solar Advocates had been working independently to develop a proposal for the town to enter a solar purchasing program. He said the group submitted a proposal to create a standing energy committee to collaborate with town staff.

Yvette Meunier, a member of Topsham Solar Advocates, said the solar power purchase agreement will save the town $38,000 a year. She said the group also worked with the town to create new rules to regulate solar projects in town.

The energy committee, as envisioned by Topsham Solar Advocates, will research and recommend energy policies and projects to selectmen to save the town money and to conserve energy. The committee also could evaluate energy conservation practices with residents, schools and businesses and spread public education about renewable energy.

The committee is expected to focus on several specific areas of energy conservation, including solar power, weatherization, electric car infrastructure and opportunities to replace fossil fuel-powered equipment with electric to reduce emissions.

“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to keep the momentum up and work with the town and staff to do things more efficiently and effectively,” Meunier told selectmen.

Douglass said selectmen several years ago considered converting all streetlights in town to LED lighting, which would have created a significant cost savings if the project has happened. He suggested this could go on the new committee’s list of projects to investigate.

There also is a loan program for commercial businesses to do energy upgrades and other programs for residential energy upgrades, according to Meunier. Programs that allow for pilot options such as for electric buses is something the committee should watch for, too, she said.

Additionally, the town could be looking at electric vehicle purchases for some departments. The committee could also look at bulk residential solar purchases.

“There are definitely some more cost-saving things to happen,” Meunier said.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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