Friday, May 21, 2010
A hard act to follow
As one of those 210 Carlisle residents who attended Annual Town Meeting on Monday evening, May 10, I walked back to my car, parked in the Spalding Circle, at about 11:30 p.m., thinking about how much I appreciated the stands that retiring Selectman Tim Hult took with his support for continued Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding and the adoption of the Stretch Building Code. As the only Selectman of the five to explicitly favor continued participation in CPA, as well as favoring the adoption of tightened energy efficiency standards for new homes, he had majority support from Town Meeting.
As the tellers were counting hands on the close vote for the Stretch Building Code (Article 28), I looked towards the stage, where the Selectmen and the Finance Committee were seated, and saw that all hands but one – Tim Hult’s – were raised to vote no on this Article. With many area towns adopting the code – Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, Acton and most recently Concord, Chelmsford and Lowell – why Carlisle’s two boards took a nearly unanimous stand against it is difficult to fathom.
Backtracking to Article 20, by rejecting this Article the town voiced continued support for CPA. Certainly the presentations of the past and future CPA-funded projects helped make the case for continuing the program. The Cranberry Bog House needing repair, the face-lift for Lady Liberty in the town center rotary, materials for Trails Committee volunteers to build boardwalks and bridges in the woods – all these items benefit the town and deserved our support.
Tim Hult is finishing up his third term, nine years, as a Selectman. A lot has gone on here in Carlisle during this time and he has been an important part of it. There will be an appreciation party for him on Tuesday, May 25, in the Clark Room at Town Hall from 3 until 6 p.m. Come by and thank him for all he has done for Carlisle. This may also be an opportunity to meet our new Selectman, John Gorecki, who I urge to step up and follow in the footsteps of Tim Hult.
My two cents per kilowatt
It ain’t easy being green, as in environmentally conscious and responsible. It certainly costs to initiate and implement the necessary steps.
In our town, green has always been more than just the preferred color of its manicured lawns and surrounding nature. As a community, we have created frameworks that encourage and implement environmental forward thinking and we readily comply with recycling regulations and sustainability measures. As longtime citizens of the community we even grew to appreciate these added responsibilities. From nature conservation to energy efficiency, as a community or as individuals, we all try to go green, or at least greener.
About two years ago, we were excited to learn that the library offered a device called Kill-A-Watt, which will monitor energy usage of home appliances and will display kilowatt per hour readings of the efficiency of any appliance hooked into it. We put our name down on the waiting list, and were told that there was a long wait . . . It seemed to be a good first step in assessing our own usage of electricity, monitoring the readings as reflected in our monthly bills.
Coming from Israel, a country where solar energy has been regulated and available for consumers’ use for decades, energy conservation and efficiency are not new to my family. However, I have to admit that we never seriously entertained any thoughts or visions of wind turbines in our backyard. Yet, we loved the heavy cast iron wood and coal stove that was put in by the original owners of our previous house. Positioned amidst the vast open main living area, near an outside wall of glass, it stood in testimony (once we got it to work) to the energy efficiency and sustainability measures taken by many home owners in response to the energy crisis of the early ‘80s.
A lot of kilowatts have gone under New England bridges since. The 2008 Massachusetts Green Communities Act was designed to promote cost savings and renewable, clean energy technology. By requiring state utilities and electricity suppliers to obtain renewable power equal to 25 percent of their sales, the new law will bring down cost of generated power, which in turn will lower consumers’ electricity bills.
The utilities and power suppliers, though slow to adopt changes, are constantly exploring innovative ways to smarten the grid. National Grid announced two weeks ago that it signed an agreement with Cape Wind to purchase “green power” and became Cape Wind’s first customer.
The very close vote adopting the Stretch Code at Town Meeting last week, preceded by a lengthy public debate, showed that change is slow in coming. However, it is clear that joining other area communities in adopting the Stretch Code will bring down energy use in new homes, and will bring the town closer to meeting eligibility criteria for the state’s Green Communities grant.
At the heart of the discussion lies the broader question of whether energy efficiency will come faster through enforcement of federal or state legislation, or through personal measures of energy conservation and environmental sensibility.
The upcoming vote on the Stretch Code got us back to the library to check out our status on the Kill A Watt wait list. (The device is available at any home improvement or online shopping portal.) We never got to borrow that Kill-A-Watt device, but we keep doing our homework, taking small, personal steps to lower our footprint on the electric grid, one kilowatt at a time. ∆
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