A way to help meet some of the South Shore’s energy needs is blowing in the wind.
About 50 advocates, town officials and citizens gathered in Hingham Town Hall last night for a forum on renewable energy. They shared their towns’ recent accomplishments in developing sources of renewable power – mostly wind turbines – and complained about how few people were aware of their efforts.
“˜”˜Nobody knows what’s going on,” said Lisa Bertola, a member of the environmental group Sustainable Scituate.
A recently completed 12-month study shows that there is enough wind in Scituate to support a turbine, according to Scituate’s Renewable Energy Alliance. The energy from the turbine would power the town’s water treatment plant.
“˜”˜Eighty percent of people in Scituate don’t know that a wind turbine is even being tested,” Bertola said.
The town has several plans to make the town more energy-efficient, but officials have not communicated those plans to the residents, and that undermines grass-roots advocacy, she said.
“˜”˜Education is key,” Bertola said.
Cohasset, Duxbury, Hanover, Hingham, Kingston, Marshfield are in various stages of doing the research that could precede turbine construction. Hull has two working turbines, and town officials are discussing building more offshore.
“˜”˜It’s the intensity of the wind on the coastline that makes this a viable area for wind energy,” said John Tzimorangas, general manager of Hingham’s municipal lighting plant.
Hingham wants to conduct its own yearlong wind study and is looking for possible turbine locations.
People at last night’s forum suggested organizing a media campaign to get the word out about sustainable energy. They also shared ideas about steps they could take to pool resources.
“˜”˜If so many towns are looking into windmills, maybe we could bring down the cost of construction and supplies,” said Paul Halkiotis, Marshfield’s town planner.
Such a centralized effort is “˜”˜certainly a possibility,” said Timothy Reardon, South Shore coordinator for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, which organized the meeting.
“˜”˜This is the type of project where we would like to work with communities to save money,” Reardon said.
The council might help develop a regional contract that could produce competitive bidding or make it easier to plan for regional purchasing, he said.
Promoted as an opportunity for community exchange, the meeting also featured presentations on things residents can do to make their homes more environmentally friendly.
Through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Renewable Energy Trust, the funding for which comes from a line item on electric bills, homeowners can get rebates for improvements like installing solar panels or energy-efficient windows, said the trust’s Marybeth Campbell.
People also can contribute to a town fund for making energy-efficiency improvements to public buildings, Campbell said. The trust provides matching funds.
Some services are not available to South Shore towns that elected not to be part of the trust when it was established in 1998.
Amy Panek of the Cambridge Energy Alliance talked about her project to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and electricity demand in Cambridge, saying it could become a model for the South Shore. Panek said her group tries to draw on people’s civic pride and environmental concern in promoting clean energy.
“˜”˜We’re trying to move beyond this Jimmy Carter-wearing-a-sweater kind of efficiency,” she said. “˜”˜There are a lot more options.”
By April Dembosky
14 June 2007
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