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Vote establishes standing town Energy Committee

The Town Council on Sept. 10, 2018 approved the establishment of a new, citizen Energy Committee.

The approval adds the committee to the town's Boards and Committees ordinance, charging it with promoting municipal and community energy efficiency, conservation, and sustainability goals. It will advise the Town Council on approaches taken by other towns, evaluate and recommend options based on criteria that include cost, conduct public education and collaborate with other communities.

The seven-member panel is an outgrowth of the ad hoc Alternative Energy Committee 2016, which met that year to explore opportunities for alternative energy for municipal and school buildings and vehicles. One of the recommendations in that committee's report was to continue as a standing committee to assist in implementing recommended projects, and to educate the town and schools on the merits of those projects and of renewable energy in general.

Initially the council's ordinance subcommittee considered combining these tasks with those of the Recycling Committee, but later decided that a separate standing committee was preferable. The ordinance committee voted unanimously July 30 to recommend a new committee to the full council.

The council's vote for the new committee Sept. 10 was unanimous, but one councilor, Jamie Garvin, said he believed linking committee work under one "sustainability" umbrella, perhaps directed by a staff coordinator like South Portland does, may be a better idea. "I'm not going to stand in the way of this but I think that is the more strategic way, going forward," Garvin said.

One of the Town Council's goals for 2018, under the heading "Sustainable Community," is to "align committees with the long-term mission of sustainability and renewable energy."