Renewable Sources of Energy article on the Warrant

I am pleased to present my first “guest posting” here on the blog. I support this article, and I hope you can cast your vote on the ballot at Town Meeting, March 10, 7am to 7pm.

Jim Nourse has been working over the last six months to gather support for an article on the Warrant in March to encourage the Town of Lyme to use 100% renewable sources of energy by 2030. Here’s his open letter to the Town, with the text of the Article 22 appended:

As we look forward to Town Meeting, I wanted to give you an update on where the effort to put forward a warrant article moving the Town and its residents away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy stands. The Energy Committed has voted 7-0 to support this article; the Select Board voted 3-0 to support the article. I have attached the article below.

I will be speaking in favor of the article at Little Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 7 pm. I would love some support, if appropriate, from members of the audience. I would also encourage you to talk about the article with your neighbors and friends. It would send a very clear message if the votes at Town Meeting were overwhelmingly positive. A few talking points:

  1. This article is a non-binding advisory article to give a “sense of the Town” in moving in the direction of a non-fossil fuel energy future. As such it does not mandate any actions by either town officials or residents. It is assumed that town officials and residents will continue to be fiscally prudent as we make this transition.
  2. The Energy Committee sees this as the start of a town-wide conversation about how Lyme makes a transition to a non-fossil fuel, sustainable future.
  3. The article discusses the major reasons that this transition is both necessary and immediate. Fossil fuels are finite in supply and even as advances in technology make it possible to extract the remaining supplies (think fracking as an example), the cost of that extraction will continue to become more expensive. And, perhaps the most important reason, the need to solve rapidly intensifying climate change which in large part is driven by our burning of fossil fuels.
  4. People will ask what this transition might look like. If, as we expect, most voters support this article, it will give the Select Board and town committees a clear sense that this is the direction the town wishes to go in. It might mean a review and reshaping of energy guidelines for new municipal construction. It might mean the amending of zoning regulations to make it more conducive for community solar projects. It will guide the town’s committees as they update the Town Master Plan. It will most likely mean more community-wide initiatives like Weatherize and Solarize Lyme. It may lead to increased collaboration with area towns to aggregate electricity purchases in an attempt to both secure the most economical rate as well as purchasing from renewable sources of electricity. It may mean seeking state and federal grants for renewable energy projects. It will mean making sure that those residents who cannot afford to move to renewable energies are included in projects that provide access to those energies that are affordable.
  5. A final point for me is the recognition that this transition will not be easy or straightforward. There will probably be times when the town or residents choose a “better” alternative, but not the “best” alternative given financial or logistical limitations. People may wonder how we will ever arrive at 100% renewable electricity by 2030, or for heating and transportation by 2050. My response is that these are goals, that the sooner we begin to work towards them, the farther along we will be. If by 2030, only 65% of our electricity comes from clean, renewable sources then that’s still more than it is today.

And speaking of beginning right away – there are two town projects on the immediate horizon that should be influenced by a goal of transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. You will most likely hear about these at both town meetings. The pellet boilers that serve the town garage are in need of replacement and there are plans to construct a new fire station. There are choices in what type of heating source to install as well as design choices for the new fire station that will impact whether it can be easily retrofitted to renewables, i.e. PV panels, in the future. I hope that you will add your voices in calling for those in charge of making these decisions to move away from fossil fuels and towards a future of renewable energy.

Many thanks for your support of this transition. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Best,
Jim

Article 22-Renewable Sources of Energy

(Can’t read the PDF above? Download it at
https://RandomNeuronsFiring.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Warrant-Article-22-Final-02.20.2020.pdf
)

2 thoughts on “Renewable Sources of Energy article on the Warrant

  1. I guess I’m wondering what your plans are for this not turning into a hardened argument of “reducing climate change” vs. renewable/local” power, and ending up with neither.

    I know you want both. I want both.

    I’m just worried this will follow the path taken to the philosophical log-jam around the new Dartmouth power plant, and a big and public advocate for having renewable/local power was one of our Energy Committee members (who also has a financial interest in the outcome.) That viewpoint was eventually opposed by numerous groups who argued that local/renewable does not necessarily lead to reducing climate change. And in the power plant’s case, the consensus was that it would have increased CO2 emissions even though the fuel would have been local. So people were basically asked to pick one solution, and the whole thing became a big mess.

    I’m not saying you’ll need to pick one now, but I am saying you need to CLEARLY address that both sides have valid points, and that there will probably need to be some compromises made – household heating is probably the biggest driver of energy usage, and weatherization only goes so far. So will Lyme’s philosophical push be that will more money go into heating with wood pellets even if it doesn’t mean less CO2? Or will LOTS more money go into solar and batteries and heat pumps and off-site CO2-less energy distribution networks.

    And a super-crazy idea. Since 90% of our taxable land is in current use, maybe the definition can be expanded to include solar arrays or wind farms. I’m not optimistic that the forests we have will survive the next 50 years of climate change.

    Second crazy idea – put a municipal EV charging station in at the town offices. There’s NOTHING in the area for Level 2+ charging of electric cars beyond the Tesla chargers at the Lyme Inn (cf plugshare maps) and the state won’t spend any Dieselgate money putting an EV charger way out here. So power the charging station it by solar and batteries, then work out a system that Lyme gets paid for the power from cars charging up at the station. Or be saintly and don’t charge, like at the VT Statehouse or King Arthur Flour.

    Third crazy idea. How about the next police cruisers we get have to be hybrids? Think of all the gas they waste idling in the town’s speed traps.

    Fourth crazy idea. Electric school buses, not these belching Diesel monsters we all know and hate. VT’s doing it!
    https://energynews.us/2019/11/15/northeast/vermont-launches-electric-school-bus-pilot-with-volkswagen-settlement-funds/

  2. Thanks for this comment. My take (Jim Nourse – and anyone else – can weigh in here, too) is that this is more of a political spine-stiffener for the Town (Select Board) to use to make difficult judgements. If the residents are strongly behind this measure, the SB might decide that option X that costs $50K more is preferable because it moves us away from fossil fuels.

    And the Town’s still in control. If some new technology seems just a bit too far out, then the safe choice (old technology) might be the right choice this time, and let other towns take the big risks. We can jump on the bandwagon in the next round.

    Finally, the other “crazy ideas” aren’t all that crazy. With town approval in their pocket, the town can forgo the “safe decision” of using old technology and try something new, knowing that they will be forgiven by the voters when the inevitable hiccups occur.

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