Monday, July 21, 2008

Energy On the Agenda Tonight

If you've got a body, you can have a role as an audience member for about 15 minutes at the next Select Board meeting on July 21 at 7:55-8:10 pm (in the Police Dept. Community Room).

Longmeadow was one of the first communities in our region to have a task force in place to examine ways to save our town money by conserving energy and reduce our overall need for energy.

This group (the Renewable Energy Task Force, or RETF) served at the direction of the Town Manager. It was scheduled to give a status report highlighting some possible projects & cost savings our town could choose. Their 3-page executive summary is below.

At the next Select Board meeting, this group will request that the Select Board create a standing Commission so that their hard work can continue.


The reason WHY the RETF needs to be formed as a standing committee is because the Town Manager has found it necessary to disband the energy task force.

-Longmeadow still does not have renewable energy systems in place.

-We still can save money.

-The Commonwealth's new Green Communities Act is a source of funds for communities that are proactive in this area.

-Even the Select Board themselves "directed the Town to develop a local action plan for sustainability in conformance with ICLEI’s Cites for Climate Protection Campaign and this responsibility was added to the RETF."


Please join me in sitting in on the audience (if you wish you can speak at the public comment time at the start of the meeting, 7pm). All you need to do is show up, so that the Renewable Energy Task Force can point to your support as additional justification for continuing their efforts.

If you are unable to come to the meeting, please email your support to &/or contact a Select Board member directly:

Paul P. Santaniello (2009) Chair Person
Robert Barkett, (2011) Vice-Chair Person
William G. Scibelli (2010) Clerk
Kathleen E. Grady (2009) Member
Brian M. Ashe (2010) Member

Thanks for your consideration of this effort. With the rising prices for oil and gas, our town would be incredibly short-sighted to disband the renewable energy task force.

TO: Robin Crosbie, Town Manager

The Town of Longmeadow Select Board

FROM: Renewable Energy Task Force (RETF)


DATE: July 21, 2008

Convening History and Purpose:

Charge: In May of 2007, Robin Crosbie, Town Manager, convened a task force to study and recommend options for renewable energy use for the town that would help the town reduce its reliance of non-renewable energy sources such as oil and gas and improve economic efficiencies for the town.

In November of 2007, the Select Board directed the Town to develop a local action plan for sustainability in conformance with ICLEI’s Cites for Climate Protection Campaign and this responsibility was added to the RETF.


RETF focused its initial work on energy conservation and the study of existing renewable energy sources, with energy conversation opportunities given top priority. RETF determined that the most practical renewable energy source for Longmeadow is the solar panel/photovoltaic source. Because there is extremely limited wind source in the Pioneer Valley, the use of wind power is not appropriate. During this past year, RETF has begun work on four distinct projects that will have the immediate result of conserving energy and demonstrating the use of solar power for energy needs. Listed on the next page is an overview of these four projects; including anticipated costs and savings and, where appropriate, rebate information.


The field of energy conservation and renewable energy is one that is in current flux. By that it is meant that as of today there are new technologies available to help with conservation and implementation of non-fossil fuel energy sources. The field is one where both policy and research are creating changes in real time. The challenge for any municipality is to find the current best practices and make reasoned decisions for its residents and businesses, all the while recognizing that these cannot be static decisions; they must be re-evaluated at different points in time to make sure that changes capture best practices as the field evolves.


1) The four projects listed on the next page are recommended by the RETF for the town’s benefit. Taken as a whole, they begin to help the town realize significant reductions in energy use and save dollars and improve efficiencies.

Note: The work on the local action plan for sustainability is just beginning.

2) The RETF has been working for approximately one year now. In a relatively short period of time it is clear that it has begun finding ways for Longmeadow to save significant dollars through energy conservation. At this point, to continue its work, to help build more public awareness and gain community support, and to be ready to benefit from the new Green Communities Act (S.2768) in which municipalities will be able to receive financial assistance for energy conservation for its work, the RETF is requesting that the Select Board formally the acknowledge the importance of this work and create and an Energy Commission that will be opened to the public for greater participation and allow the current RETF members to continue their work on behalf of Longmeadow.

Projects include:
Install LED bulbs in all traffic lights in town .

Insulation of exposed walls of high school swimming pool.

The town currently rents the street lights from WMECO. George Woodbury has been hired as a consultant to create a complete inventory and map all existing street lights, with the goal of determining their condition and appraisal for purchase so that Longmeadow reduces its monthly utility costs and assumes responsibility for maintenance.

Installation of 10 kilowatt solar/photovoltaic (PC) array on Glenbrook Middle School Roof: This project shall serve (3) purposes:

(1): Develop experience with solar renewable energy;
(2): Demonstrate to both students and residents the manner in which this type of energy source works to help further knowledge of science and technology. Project includes a web-based monitoring system for continual data accessibility.
(3): provide electric power to supplement the needs of the middle school.

1 comment:

Rebecca M. Townsend, Ph.D. said...

The follow-up:

Select Board member Paul Santaniello (also a member of the RETF) did not propose a standing committee on energy...That does not mean he will not, it means that it did not happen tonight. I am optimistic that the Select Board will eventually do the right thing.

Of course, they can be prompted, too.

RETF member Jerry Nolet made some remarks about some proposals, and hinted at the creation of a standing committee. He did say that the work of the RETF "ought to be relegated to a standing committee," however. Chairman Santaniello said that the Select Board will "have a discussion" about setting up an energy committee. Mr. Nolet accepted the language of the task committee report being a "final" report.

[In the world of energy and emerging technologies, I am sure it won't be the final word, however.]

In my remarks during the public comment time, I said that I support the change of the RETF to a standing committee, that it's a first step, and the second step would be for the town to agree to the non-binding Memorandum of Agreement (read it at ) in support of the Pioneer Valley Clean Energy Plan. Agreeing with the principles in this plan indicates that we want to save money by saving energy and can even earn us money by raising our Commonwealth Capital Score (a score that helps us be competitive in state grant awarding-- ).

On June 24, 2008 I received a note from Cindy French, Administrative Assistant to the Select Board that "this item has been put on hold until further notice, per Chair Person Santaniello. I will keep you informed as to when it is placed on a future agenda."

I asked the Chair when the CEP can be taken off the table. The Chair replied that he is working with the town manager on the schedule; when there is an opening he will schedule it.

I met with the Select Board on May 5 to discuss this plan. [They had copies since the start of the year. The minutes of every meeting after May 5 make no reference to working on this.]

I had not heard back from anyone in response to my requests to work with them in discussing their questions about the MOA; PVPC Planner Catherine Miller had also heard nothing back. I have volunteered to speak with SB members on the phone, in person, or during a public meeting. Neither Catherine nor I have received a response...yet--I am an optimist! This policy plan ( provides ideas and strategies; Longmeadow can pick and choose from lots of ideas; or we can come up with our own....BUT the idea is to sign on to agree with the principles--and in so doing, enable us to compete for state grants more effectively.]
More of interest:

Renewable Energy for the Pioneer Valley

PVPC and FRCOG have been funded by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to develop a Strategic Plan for Renewable Energy for the Pioneer Valley. As part of this plan we have developed an inventory of renewable energy activities in the Pioneer Valley. The plan will be completed in Summer 2007. The Pioneer Valley Renewable Energy Advisory Committe (PVREC) meets quarterly.

Download PDF inventory of renewable energy activities in the Pioneer Valley

Timeline of plan development and a list of ways that you can get involved

Minutes of MAy 5: 7:07 pm Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) Clean Energy Plan - PVPC Representative

Catherine Miller, Longmeadow PVPC Alternate Becky Townsend – Ms. Townsend gave a detailed presentation to the Select Board outlining the Memorandum of Agreement for Promoting and Implementing the Pioneer Valley Clean Energy Plan.

The Select Board directed some questions to her and the discussion continued. Select Person Paul Santaniello expressed his concern with signing an “unbinding” document and committing the Town to an agreement that has no specifics. Select Person William Scibelli concurs.

Select Person Kathleen Grady agrees, however; she also understands that by signing the Memorandum, the Town of Longmeadow would be joining a regional effort and would be able to participate in energy conservation efforts on a Regional level, including benefiting from receiving grant monies.

After some discussion it was decided that Catherine Miller, the representative from the PVPC, would attend a future meeting and address the Select Board’s specific concerns. [emphasis mine]