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Natural & Environmental Resources Goal 3

The community will have access to clean, efficient and sustainable energy resources.

3.1 Expand renewable Energy Options

STRATEGY: Explore opportunities to partner with private entities to provide sustainable and renewable electricity to residential and business customers in the community.

JUSTIFICATION: Identifying locations for larger scale renewable energy generation opportunities in the community and partnering with or advocating for the developers of such projects will help to bring a more diverse and sustainable energy supply to the community. While typically more expensive than fossil fuel or nuclear based energy resources, the use of renewable energy resources, particularly when generated locally, can play a significant role in reducing the immediate and identifiable energy related impacts of a community. When coupled with strong links to the legacy power distribution system, locally available renewable energy resources also help to provide a more reliable and resilient source of electricity generation, particularly in time of energy shortages or natural disasters that can impact larger regional power transmission networks.

3.2 Generate Renewable Energy on Town Property

STRATEGY: Prepare a feasibility analysis for the installation of renewable energy collection facilities on town-owned property.

JUSTIFICATION: While the space available for generating energy from renewable sources on town owned property is not extensive, the installation of small scale generation facilities where space permits would help the town to lead by example and provide encouragement for private property owners to generate at least some of their electricity needs on-site. In addition to reducing the external energy needs of town buildings and other operations, the installation of these devices could also help the town generate revenue (via reductions in its energy bills) through net metering, whereby the local electric utility would purchase excess power generated at town owned sites when production exceeded consumption levels.

3.3 Promote Small Scale Renewable Energy Generation

STRATEGY: Develop regulations for inclusion in the Town’s Zoning Ordinance to expressly permit the installation of small scale renewable energy facilities on private property, while ensuring that such installations do not negatively impact the character of the town or surrounding properties (similar to the Historic District Guidelines).

JUSTIFICATION: Distributing the generation of the town’s electricity needs throughout the community will allow for a more stable and environmentally friendly energy supply. Ensuring that local ordinances address both the need to allow such facilities on private property, as well as the potential impacts of their installation, will help the town as a whole develop small scale renewable energy resources in a manner that does not introduce a negative impact on neighborhoods. The proliferation of small scale renewable energy generators will also allow the town to become more resilient in the event of outages in the local power distribution network due to natural disasters or by other means. This in turn will allow for quicker recoveries from such situations and reduce the need for outside aid during emergencies.

3.4 Promote Solar Energy Generation Facilities on Nonresidential Buildings

STRATEGY: Encourage the installation of solar collection facilities on the rooftops of larger nonresidential buildings when such installations will not negatively impact the character of the community.

JUSTIFICATION: The roofs of larger nonresidential buildings, particularly those with “flat” roof forms, provide ideal opportunities for the installation of solar power generation facilities. Given the potential size of such installations, they have the ability to not only supply power for use onsite, but also to help monetize the unused rooftop space through net metering of excess energy that is generated on the site. If properly mounted and screened, these types of installations can be highly compatible with the character of the community while also helping to reduce the town’s overall environmental impact.

3.5 Develop a Waste to Energy Facility

STRATEGY: Explore the feasibility of utilizing biosolids produced at the town’s wastewater treatment plant to generate electricity to assist in powering the facility.

JUSTIFICATION: The organic matter that results from the treatment of municipal wastewater is generally viewed as a burden that must be dealt with through expensive disposal methods, such as land application or transportation to a landfill. Opportunities, do exist, however, to monetize this matter, known as biosolids (or more commonly as “sludge”), by converting it into heat energy that can be used to generate electricity in a waste to energy power generator. While the locally produced amount of biosolids may not be sufficient to economically operate a generator on a full time basis, the location of the town’s wastewater treatment plant adjacent to the rail line, could provide an opportunity to construct a siding that could facilitate the importation of biosolids by rail from external sources. With a sufficient supply of organic matter for use in power generation, a generator on-site could simultaneously generate electricity from renewable resources, while also eliminating the need to dispose of the solid waste that results from the wastewater treatment process, leaving only small amounts of ash that can be more easily disposed of in landfills. While air quality impacts would definitely be a concern associated with such a facility, their design, which typically utilizes very high temperature processes and includes extensive modern pollution control mechanisms, can make these small scale energy generators very compatible with both the environment and nearby developed land uses.