Yarmouth Energy Savers eye new projects, new coordinator

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YARMOUTH — While the Yarmouth Energy Savers have reduced town energy costs and use in the past three years, a recent partnership with Maine Green Energy Alliance and the potential hiring of an energy coordinator are expected to boost productivity even more.

At a recent meeting, Chairwoman Marge Titcomb said the group teamed up with Maine Green Energy Alliance to promote weatherization efforts and federally funded grant and rebate opportunities for interested residents.

Volunteers and staff members of MGEA, a non-profit organization funded by a sub-grant of Efficiency Maine, help residents apply and qualify for the energy upgrade process. Rep. Melissa Walsh Innes, D-Yarmouth, a former member of the YES committee, is now working for MGEA as a community outreach organizer in Yarmouth and Cumberland, providing information on how to benefit from energy improvements. 

As a way to educate residents about the rebates available through MGEA, Innes and YES members will host a series of house “warming” parties. On Wednesdays, Jan. 19, Jan. 26 and Feb. 23, YES members Frank Robbins, David Craig and Titcomb will host the informational sessions at their homes. All three have recently completed energy work and will share their experiences with neighbors and friends.

Innes said the gatherings will be an opportunity for residents to learn about the benefits of weatherization, receive current rebate information, schedule home energy audits and see energy improvements that have been completed.

“The benefit of having these (gatherings) in homes that have had the work completed gives others the chance to ask questions of the homeowners and see how the upgrades work and save money,” Innes said.

Innes will host an information session on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Cumberland Town Hall.

“People can receive up to $1,500 on energy upgrade rebates through Efficiency Maine,” Innes said. “There are 1,000 spots left in the state, and we are trying to encourage people to take advantage of these savings.”

In other business, YES completed its Climate Action Plan and will present it to the Town Council for approval. As directed by the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, YES  developed a plan with recommendations relevant to Yarmouth’s energy usage, community carbon footprint and Cool Cities protocol. The plan offers strategies to reduce energy costs and reduce the town’s net environmental impact from energy and fuel use and selections.

Titcomb said the first priority of the Climate Action Plan is to create a paid energy coordinator position to carry out the energy efficiency and climate protection initiatives.

In 2010, YES audited all municipal buildings, partnered with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on a no-idling campaign in the school district and completed a Street Lights Out campaign that reduced Yarmouth’s lighting by 10 percent, saving $10,000 annually and reducing 7.5 tons of greenhouse gases per year.

“We’ve done so much with volunteers,” Titcomb said. “But we also believe we need someone with the skills and devoted energy to be the energy coordinator. This person would work specifically for the town to implement some of the policies and programs we’ve worked to establish.”

Titcomb said the energy coordinator could create a street and lot light policy and a no-idling policy for the town. The coordinator could also focus on completing more in-depth energy audits in municipal buildings, she said. 

“There is no job description for this position yet, but it is our first recommendation in the draft Climate Action Plan,” Titcomb said.

The committee will vote to accept the draft plan within the next few weeks and is expected to present it to the council before budget discussions begin.

To participate in a house “warming” party contact Innes at 899-8588 or e-mail her at melissai@mainegreenenergyalliance.org.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net