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Green Community initiative discussed for Marion

A meeting of the South Coast Alternative Energy Collaborative (SCAEC) was held at the Marion Music Hall on Monday, September 26. Members attending included SCAEC representatives from Marion, Dartmouth, Westport, UMASS Dartmouth, Amherst, Wareham and Westport.

David Pierce of the Marion Energy Management Committee (MEMC) hosted the event and said that the meeting was to bring the town up to green standards for the state. “[Marion] is far behind communities in the state, the US and other countries in terms of green energy production,” he said

Keynote speaker Mark Beaton spoke about the steps that the town of Kingston, MA took to become a green community. Mr. Beaton is a Selectman and Chairman of the Alternative Energy Committee in Kingston. Mr. Beaton said he traveled to Marion in his truck, which runs on one part diesel and three parts cooking oil.

Sharing several maps and handouts outlining Kingston’s efforts to achieve the green designation, Mr. Beaton said that his incentive to work on the green initiative could be summed up in three words: “Samantha, Danielle and Chris” – his children.

In an effort to spare other towns the time and effort it took Kingston to acquire the green designation, Mr. Beaton provided every detail on how they did it in a handout, which showed everything from a “no idling proclamation” of cars to a zero percent home loan for energy efficient upgrading for residents in the town. Mr. Beaton also discussed “green revenue” generated by the wind turbine placed on an old, closed landfill located next to Route 3.

In the question and answer session that followed the presentation, Mr. Beaton suggested that towns ask NSTAR for a list of the top twenty users of electricity in the town and work from there.

Getting town residents involved in the initiative was discussed and Mr. Beaton said that Kingston offered a prize for the first 30 people who came to the town meeting on the topic. “They came and we gave them an energy efficient light bulb,” said Mr. Beaton.

The wind turbine in Kingston is called “The Independence”, after the ship that sailed into the harbor in 1776 and is on the town seal. “This is our new independence, and we named the turbine the Independence… to get away from fossil fuel,” said Mr. Beaton.

Mr. Beaton said that it was usual to see town assessors, building inspectors and other employees in large trucks that are usually gas guzzlers. “These vehicles get 8-9 miles per gallon… that’s your money at work,” he said. Kingston initiated electric vehicles for town employees who are on the road and saved 4-5 thousand dollars in gasoline the first year.

“Right now, there are only 60 public plug-ins for electric vehicles in Massachusetts,” said Mr. Beaton. “That will change very soon.”

“Change is new and not an easy thing,” said host David Pierce. “Our fears need to be allayed and we need to move ahead to explore alternative energy sources.”