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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

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Selectmen candidate’s positions on energy efficiency

Greetings Everyone,

Late last week, a number of members contacted me about the candidates for Selectmen and their positions on energy efficiency in town.  I came up with a list of questions and emailed Jon Speers, Mary Andrews and Ray McMahon.  (Ron Nowell doesn’t have an email address apparently).

Jon Speers was the only candidate who responded.  To be fair, the others didn’t have much time – and perhaps would have responded had I posed the questions earlier.

Regardless, Jon’s answers are below.  While we typically don’t officially endorse candidates, I can say that based on his answers, Jon seems to have a good grasp on the importance of energy efficiency.

Also, don’t forget to vote “yes” on item #43 on Saturday!!!

Best,
Eric

1.  Do you support the continued investment of town resources in improving the energy efficiency of town buildings?

Yes.  Every dollar we invest in energy-efficiency improvements will save energy costs and tax dollars down the road.

2.  In particular the $100,000 spending item on this year’s referendum?

Absolutely.  Article 43 speaks to spending up to $100,000 in the coming year to implement alternative energy solutions, based upon an audit of Town buildings regarding proposed energy savings.  My understanding was that the money was to be invested in improvements in: Town Hall, York Village Fire Station, York Beach Fire Station, the Grant House, and the Police Station/Senior Center.

3. In what way do you think smart energy policy could affect the town in a positive way?

First of all, our tax dollars are precious and making energy-smart investments will save all taxpayers from wasting money later on expenses that could have been avoided.  Secondly, it will hopefully cause every taxpayer to consider options pertinent to their own lives – be it buying energy-efficient cars, winterizing their homes, installing solar hot water tubes, photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, etc.

4.  How do you see the future role of the town Energy Efficiency Steering Committee?

I see the Committee serving an educational role, as well as continuing to recommend energy-saving measures for Town buildings.  I’d like to see the school buildings added to the list.

5.  Are there any ways you believe the town should prudently plan for the effects of climate change?

As a coastal community, we should consider zoning ordinance amendments that further restrict construction within the Shoreland Zone.  For that matter, the definition of the Shoreland Zone and property included within it is likely to change as sea levels rise over the decades – something I consider highly likely, though it will take a long time to occur.  Related to that issue is the ever-present economic trade-off of expanding our sewage treatment facilities and getting more of the population off septic tanks, especially with regard to properties close to waster bodies.  This will be difficult because the infrastructure expansion will be very expensive and there will be resistance from property owners who will balk at the cost of connecting with the Sewer District.  I also worry about the effects of sea level rise and coastal erosion on the property owners along Long Sands Beach and whether our building codes should be amended for structures in that zone.

6.  Would you consider supporting the implementation of renewable energy on school buildings?

Assuming you’re talking about the installation of photovoltaic panels, the question will probably become much easier to answer as time passes.  I say this because the cost of these panels will continue to drop as more factories are built to produce them and more consumers purchase the product.  The issue now is primarily about the “payback period” – how many years it will take to simply cover the costs of product installation?  If it takes 20 years just to recoup the cost of installation, the concept is more difficult to rationalize.  If costs drop so that the payback is more like 7-10 years, the investment is much more easily justified.

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