Small changes make a
big difference.

Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.

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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

CO2 Now

Current CO2 Level in the Atmosphere


York Energy Steering Committee recognized

The Energy Steering Committee was highlighted by the York Weekly as one of the town’s “Movers and Shakers” of 2015. From the article by Deborah McDermott:

YORK – During the recent climate talks in Paris, a group of state and provincial government leaders, mayors and municipal officials from throughout the world held a Climate Summit for Local Leaders. They argued that climate progress can be measured at the local level, where innovative programs often drive changes later adopted by federal governments.

This “think globally, act locally” attitude has infused the work of the York Energy Steering Committee in 2015, bringing the group to the forefront of several efforts aimed at reducing the town’s carbon footprint. And more is expected in 2016.

“People more broadly sense global warming is a problem of today, not tomorrow,” said chair Rozanna Patane. “We see it in the weather, we see it in our oceans. What the committee tries to talk about is putting the impact first, and the (monetary) savings, second. The bonus is while we’re saving the planet we can also save money.

“But that’s not why we’re doing this. It’s important for us here in York to do our part. This is a very big problem, but don’t say it’s so big that we can’t do our part,” she said.

The York Beach Fire Department dedicated a 28-kilowatt solar power system installed on the roof of the station Saturday. Photo by Ralph Morang/

The York Beach Fire Department dedicated a 28-kilowatt solar power system installed on the roof of the station Saturday. Photo by Ralph Morang/

Arguably the signature effort by the committee during the past year has been the solar panel installation on the roof of the York Beach Fire Department. In September, 2014, the committee secured a $98,000 grant to purchase and install the panels, which supply 28 kilowatt hours of electricity. As the New Year began, Fire Chief Dave Bridges said he watched the electric meters “whirling away. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like on a bright sunny day in July?”

As it turned out, the savings last summer turned out to be significant. The Central Maine Power bill last August showed a credit of $1.38. A year prior, Bridges said, he would have paid $325 to $350 for the same period. The committee also paid for heat pumps in the second floor to take the load off the oil boiler and generate heating and air conditioning there. Funds were also used to insulate the building and add light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.

Bridges was proud to show off the building at a public open house last September, saying, “I hope this is a model for another project in the future. Our building will be 100 years old in 2017. Can you imagine what you could do with a new building.”

Patane joined the committee after funding for energy projects was approved by a “very fragile vote” in 2014, funding that was not supported by the Budget Committee. “I said, ‘You guys are hiding under rocks and you need to let people know what you’re doing.’”

This year, the committee embarked on a project, still to be approved by voters, to switch all of the town’s 830 streetlights to LED lighting. Consulting firm Celtic Energy, Inc. was hired to plan the project and hire companies to design and install the system. Chris Lotspeich of Celtic Energy said the town could save as much as $150 per light per year by making the conversion from conventional bulbs. He estimated it would take the town about six years to pay back the upfront costs to buy, install and maintain the new bulbs.ESC members

Town Manager Steve Burns calls the project “a no-brainer. It’s a good idea because it saves energy, although I don’t see it saving money. But it’s a better quality of light, and projects like this make the country more efficient, and places less demand on oil in the Middle East. Energy conservation is the right approach.”

As year ends, the committee is working on an energy chapter to the town’s Comprehensive Plan, and is investigating the costs to set up private solar farms in town before a critical tax credit expires in 2016.

Burns said while energy is, overall, a small part of the town’s budget, “there’s plenty of stuff that can be done. I want to make sure we’re not going to do anything that makes irrational changes, but I have asked my department heads to look at this and ask themselves, “Is this the most energy efficient option? If not, why not? It’s a good question to ask.”

2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year Ever Recorded

As reported in the Science section of the Oct. 21, 2015 New York Times, 2015 is likely to be a record-breaker for global warming.

Global temperatures are running far above last year’s record-setting level, all but guaranteeing that 2015 will be the hottest year in the historical record — and undermining political claims that global warming had somehow stopped.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the American agency that tracks worldwide temperatures, announced Wednesday that last month had been the hottest September on record, and in fact took the biggest leap above the previous September that any month has displayed since 1880, when tracking began at a global scale. The agency also announced that the January-to-September period had been the hottest such span on the books.

ScreenHunter_266 Oct. 22 11.58

ScreenHunter_267 Oct. 22 11.58

For much of the past decade, people who question established climate science have been claiming that global warming had stopped. Their argument depended on picking a particular base year — almost always 1998, the final year of the last strong El Niño — as their starting point.

But mainstream climate scientists said that was a statistically invalid cherry-picking of the data, and their analysis of the entire record showed that global warming never stopped — at most, the rise of surface temperatures slowed somewhat, even as the oceans continued to warm at a brisk pace.

The record-setting warmth of 2014 and 2015 has undermined the idea that the problem of greenhouse emissions had somehow solved itself, though some Washington politicians continue to repeat the claims. Climate scientists have not wavered in their view that the long-term temperature increase poses profound risks and that emissions must be brought under control.

The question is, will world leaders take action before it’s too late, or will they pass the problem on to future generations? Keep your eyes on the Paris global climate conference in early December.

Read the rest of the article.

Why is the color of LED lighting so important?

The latest generation of LED (light emitting diode) exterior lighting is significantly more energy efficient than even high pressure sodium fixtures (the orange-tinted street lights that are commonly used).  And what’s made the recent use of LED lights take off is the dramatic decline in prices for all types of LED fixtures. However, especially when considering exterior lighting like parking lot or roadway lights, careful consideration of the color hue of that lighting is important. The following is excerpted from the site of the non-profit International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the recognized authority on light pollution.

…The price of commercial LED lighting products continues to drop, and capital cost recovery times for new LED street light installations, once 10 years or more, are now typically less than five years and continue to decline. As barriers to implementation fall, LEDs are gaining momentum as a lighting technology of choice in new outdoor installations.

Blue Light Is Bad

New technical capabilities often come with unanticipated challenges. White LED lighting often has significant levels of potentially hazardous blue light. IDA published a report in 2010 detailing the hazards of blue-rich white light sources. In the years since, scientific evidence has solidified around its conclusions.

Outdoor lighting with high blue light content is more likely to contribute to light pollution because it has a significantly larger geographic reach than lighting with less blue light. Blue-rich white light sources are also known to increase glare and compromise human vision, especially in the aging eye. These lights create potential road safety problems for motorists and pedestrians alike. In natural settings, blue light at night has been shown to adversely affect wildlife behavior and reproduction. This is true even in cities, which are often stopover points for migratory species.

The promise of cheaper outdoor lighting based on electricity and maintenance savings from LED conversion should be weighed against other factors, such as the blue light content of white LEDs. Blue-rich sources are the most efficient LEDs in terms of the conversion of electricity to light, and therefore have the lowest electricity cost to produce a given amount of light compared to “warmer,” less efficient white LED lamps. Every effort should be made to diminish or eliminate blue light exposure after dark.


IDA Recommends

There are already many white LED options now available on the outdoor lighting market and that number will only rise in the future. IDA has developed a set of recommendations for those choosing lighting systems. These suggestions will aid in selecting lighting that is energy and cost efficient, yet ensures safety and security, protects wildlife and promotes the goal of dark night skies. These include

  • Always choose fully shielded fixtures that emit no light upward
  • Use “warm-white” or filtered LEDs (CCT < 3,000 K; S/P ratio < 1.2) to minimize blue emission
  • Look for products with adaptive controls like dimmers, timers, and motion sensors
  • Consider dimming or turning off the lights during overnight hours
  • Avoid the temptation to overlight because of the increased luminous efficiency of LEDs
  • Only light the exact space and in the amount required for particular tasks

Vote on Nov. 3 to reduce plastic bag waste


Approved by the Board of Selectmen 5-0, Article 7, a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags, will be on the ballot November 3. Voting is at York High School between 8 AM and 8 PM.

Ways You Can Help Pass the
York Bag Ordinance

Canvass for Support. You can help by volunteering to canvass likely voters or drive a canvasser as they knock on doors. We will orient you and send you off with literature, addresses and a map. If you are a supporter of the ordinance and like to talk with people, we will be canvassing every Saturday and Sunday this month from 10 am – 5 pm (except, Saturday, Oct. 17) . You don’t have to be a York voter to canvass. If you can give us even a few hours, please do so. The outcome could come down to a small number of votes either way so voter outreach is critical. Email Victoria Simon or call 363-6140 for more information and to sign up.

Letter Writing. Help convince York voters to support the ordinance by writing a letter to the editor. Check our website for ideas and to read the full text of the ordinance. You can email for assistance in writing your letter. Also, if you aren’t sure how to submit your letter, send it to Judith McAllister ( who will submit your letter to the paper for you.

Add Your Name to a List of Supporters of the Ordinance. We would like to put a list of York residents who support the ordinance on our website to encourage others to support the ballot article. If you are willing to do that, please fill in the simple supporter form. Thanking you in advance.

Donate. For any donation of $5 or more, you can receive one of BYOB York’s reusable bags. They are compact, lightweight, and perfect for running into a store for a couple of things. You can also buy raffle tickets at our booth at Marketfest, Oct. 16-17 to win one of two prizes. Your donations support our ongoing educational effort on plastic bags and the campaign to pass the York ordinance.

Vote and Encourage Others to Vote. Absentee ballots will be available October 3. If you know you will be unable to go to the polls on Nov. 3, be sure to vote absentee. Every vote is important.

Tell your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors to vote YES on Article 7. Thank You for Your Support.


Final Showing before Vote
Tuesday, Oct. 6 @ 7pm

York Public Library
15 Long Sands Rd
Free Admission
Runtime 65 min

If you would like to arrange a private group showing, we would be happy to see if we can work out something with you. This would make a good classroom event or meeting topic for your group or organization. We have the 65 minute version suitable for Adults and Youth and a 45 minute version for younger children. Please call or email Chris Hartwell at 207-363-8588 or, if you are interested.

Copyright © 2015 BYOB York, All rights reserved.

98-year-old fire station a ‘high-performing energy system’

From the 9/30/15 York Weekly story written by Deborah McDermott:

YORK – There was, literally, energy to spare at the York Beach fire station Saturday afternoon, as a crowd of more than 50 residents and well-wishers from throughout the region came there to learn about how the department reduced its energy bill from $325 to less than $1.52 in a year.

The York Beach Fire Department dedicated a 28-kilowatt solar power system installed on the roof of the station Saturday.

And in the process, they learned that the building has become a model of efficiency and a harbinger for future town building projects.

The station built in 1917 now has a 28,000-kilowatt solar panel array on its roof, new insulation in the walls and roof, all new light-emitting diode, or LED, lights throughout the building, and a heat pump that is providing cooling and heat to the second floor.

York Beach Fire Chief Dave Bridges explains the electrical equipment, background, for the fire station's 28-kilowatt solar power system to Bonnie Pothier, left, a representative of Senator Angus King's office and Rozanna Patane, of the York Energy Steering Committee. The fire department dedicated the system Saturday. Photo by Ralph Morang/

York Beach Fire Chief Dave Bridges explains the electrical equipment, background, for the fire station’s 28-kilowatt solar power system to Bonnie Pothier, left, a representative of Senator Angus King’s office and Rozanna Patane, of the York Energy Steering Committee. The fire department dedicated the system Saturday. Photo by Ralph Morang/

“They say timing is everything. Well, the timing was perfect,” Fire Chief Dave Bridges said, because the energy committee approached the chief just as the department was getting ready to renovate the second floor room used as a bingo parlor. “It just all came together. Would I have done it on my own? No. But I commend the committee for approaching us. The summer people commented tremendously on the solar panels.”

York Energy Steering Committee chair Rozanna Patane said the beauty of the collaboration is that “now we can say we can retain the historic function of a 100 year old building while at the same time turning it into a high-performing energy system.”

The savings from the solar array has been “very good, but more importantly we have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The energy saved here is equivalent to taking 50 cars off the road or planting 200 acres of forest,” she said to much applause.

Selectman Torbert Macdonald called himself an “old solar warrior” who was a state planner in Augusta when Jimmy Carter was president and introduced energy efficiency measures. “He was a much maligned enemy of big oil. For 35 years we’ve been listening to the lies of big oil saying what we really care about is cheap energy.” The fire station project should remind everyone that there are those “who care about the planet,” he said

Bridges said the project was such a success, “hopefully this is just the beginning and there will be other departments that will take on the challenge.”

Read the rest of the article at

In an Age of Cheap Solar Does Efficiency Still Matter?

An expert from the Rocky Mountain Institute argues that solar energy may be more glamorous, but efficiency, the old workhorse of green buildings, remains a winner, just not in all cases.

“Efficiency first” is the mantra in green and net-zero buildings; you always do energy efficiency first and then cover the remaining balance of energy needs with renewables such as rooftop solar. This is almost a moral code for green buildings. But in today’s world of rapidly falling costs for renewables, the tipping point between cost-effective efficiency and solar is shifting.Solar vs efficiency

The cost of saving energy through efficiency measures has typically been three to five times lower than any of the renewable sources of energy. Efficiency, as a bundle on a project, typically costs $0.00–0.02 per kWh. Solar-generated electricity has come from $0.20 or more per kWh down to $0.07–0.15 per kWh. And costs are expected to drop a further 25 to 50 percent in the coming few years. We have found that the most-expensive efficiency options—adding another pane of glazing to the windows in a mild climate, daylighting basement spaces, using complicated and sometimes unreliable control systems to harvest the last bit of energy—can’t compete with the new lower cost of solar. Inching incrementally toward deeper efficiency gets more expensive per kWh of energy saved. But is piling on more solar always the best solution?

Read the rest of the article at

Save the Date: September 26th Celebration

Save the Date: September 26th @ 3:00 pm

Please join York’s Energy Steering Committee, York Beach Fire Department, public officials and York residents for a reception and dedication to celebrate the new solar panels at the York Beach Fire Station.

At 18 Railroad Ave., York Beach, Maine.

. . . → Read More: Save the Date: September 26th Celebration

Addressing both environmental destruction and social inequality

Just how dumb do they think we are?

Who would believe that destroying the ecosystems on which all life depends, while dis-employing more and more people, is somehow good for the economy? Whose economy?

But that’s exactly the fiction that has been successfully marketed to us: jobs versus the environment.

The next economy that’s now . . . → Read More: Addressing both environmental destruction and social inequality

Getting rich vs. being rich

We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that . . . → Read More: Getting rich vs. being rich

2014 Was Hottest Year on Record

It’s official:

Last year was the hottest in earth’s recorded history, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring scientific warnings about the risks of runaway emissions and undermining claims by climate-change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped.

And the trend continues:

In the annals of climatology, 2014 now surpasses 2010 as the warmest year in a . . . → Read More: 2014 Was Hottest Year on Record

Peaks Island school eyed for emergency solar power array

The following article from the recounts the latest work done by Eric Hopkins and others to develop an emergency solar power pilot project.

A group of people including teachers and engineers met at the school library recently to start discussing the possibility of making the school the island’s designated Red Cross emergency shelter, and . . . → Read More: Peaks Island school eyed for emergency solar power array

The ethics of climate change

As a global and long-term problem, climate change presents a huge ethical challenge. Climate change is the consequence of a huge number of small acts, which individually are not intended to cause harm. Moreover, the main victims of climate change – future generations and people in vulnerable countries – are distant in time and space . . . → Read More: The ethics of climate change

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