Yarmouth energy group draws closer to proposal to extinguish 125 street lights, implementing no-idling rules

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YARMOUTH — The Yarmouth Energy Savers Committee is moving closer to a proposal that would shut off about 20 percent of the town’s street lights.

Town Engineer Dan Jellis said at a Monday night meeting that 125 of the town’s 635 street lights could be switched off to save money and energy. That determination follows the committee’s review of lighting in neighborhoods, parking lots and commercial areas.

In a memo to Town Manager Nat Tupper and heads of the police, fire and public works departments, Jellis said the lights throughout town use over 184,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, and costs the town about $100,000.

Currently, the town rents the lights from Central Maine Power.

The committee will continue to document and map the street lights to remove or reduce wattage, and proposed savings. It will present its findings during a Jan. 7 Town Council workshop.

Chairwoman Marge Titcomb said the goal of the Street Lights Out campaign is to reduce unnecessary lighting, but not at any cost or risk to residents or businesses.

“We have kept in mind safety, changes in road grading, curves and blind drives,” she said. “We will start with residential neighborhoods, then move on from there.”

In other business, the energy committee hired an intern to help roll out a no-idling campaign for the town.

Ryan Neale, a recent graduate from the Muskie School of Public Service, received his master’s degree from the Community Planning and Development program. He will help create the public process and coordinate with the town and schools to implement the practice.

Titcomb said the committee has received 20 no-idling signs from the state, and plans to place them on public property in January. Although a policy exists at the schools and public works department, there are no residential rules.

“At this point, we will work on policy and encourage the practice,” Titcomb said.

Committee member Melissa Walsh Innes said the no-idling campaign is important because it would reduce car emissions and pollution. It also has a health benefit, she said.

“There are children and adults who suffer from asthma and other respiratory illnesses,” she said. “This no-idling campaign will benefit the environment and the health of our residents.”

The next meeting of the Yarmouth Energy Savers committee will be held on Monday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]