Dalton lines up several green energy prospects
DALTON -- Town officials are in talks with Citizens Energy Corp., who’d like to locate a 1.3-megawatt solar array in the town.
If pursued, the five-acre develoment would be sited within the town’s former landfill off Warren Avenue, a 20-acre plot.
"The facility could essentially supply all [Dalton town buildings’ needs] with leftover capacity for the school district and other potential users," said Town Manager Kenneth E. Walto.
Walto’s green aspirations don’t end there. He said the town recently received a $27,500 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection to fund half the cost of two electric cars and a charging station.
If voters OK the other half, Dalton employees, including a police officer and building inspector, could soon be jetting around town in hybrids. The library could potentially house the charging station, Walto said.
Walto said if the Select Board approves, both these items could appear before voters as warrant articles at town meeting in May.
Meanwhile, a recently convened town committee is considering whether Dalton should seek the state’s Green Communities designation, which would garner the town annual funds and allow it to apply for more grants.
According to Cheryl Rose, chairwoman of the Green Dalton Committee, the town checks out in four of five Green Communities criteria -- concerning siting laws for renewable energy generation, fuel efficiency standards in future town vehicle purchases and long-term plans to reduce energy use.
Adoption of the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards Stretch Code appears to be the only issue to consider.
"This is the one issue people seem to get bogged down with," Rose said.
The stretch code, which requires certain energy efficiency standards on all new buildings and old ones under renovation, was the subject of a public forum last Tuesday at Dalton Senior Center.
Rose said not everyone likes the idea of adopting the stretch code.
"Some people have this emotional reaction against being told what they can and can’t do," Rose said.
But because energy efficient buildings save money, and more and more are becoming the norm, Rose doesn’t believe the reaction warranted in this case.
"Our challenge is going to be getting the message out," she said.
Most people at Tuesday’s forum responded positively to the prospect of Dalton becoming a Green Community.
"I’m hoping that we’re going to put it on the [town meeting] warrant and let the townspeople decide after hear the pros and cons," said Selectwoman Mary Cherry, who attended Tuesday’s forum. "It could potentially benefit the town and I don’t see a lot of downside."
At their next meeting on March 24, the Green Dalton Committee is poised to vote on whether to pursue the state designation. If a majority of the seven members vote affirmative, Dalton Select Board will decide if the item appears on the town meeting warrant in May.
To reach Phil Demers:
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On Twitter: @BE_PhilD
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