Warwick town government has done significant work on becoming more energy efficient, supporting alternative energy supply, while at same time, receiving discounts; and on changing to less fossil fuel and more solar and wind power reliance. The Town has entered into Net Meter Credit Purchase Agreements which support alternative electrical supply and introduce discounts, and most recently we contracted for 100% renewable electrical energy supply to all our town buildings. These moves while laudable for environmental reasons, are even saving us money and will continue for years to come.
We are lucky to have an active and effective Energy Committee. Through their efforts, a few years ago we got Commonwealth Green Community designation and that came with $138,000 in grant funding which we used to reduce heating and cooling loads and to add air source heat pumps to town hall and other buildings. Before deploying the technology we did insulation and air sealing at the Library, Town Hall, Highway Department, and Police station.
As a Green Community our goal is to cut our municipal energy use by at least 20%. This is a challenge because the majority of our town government energy use is highway related. It means we need to double up in other areas of energy use.
Have you noticed the small solar array on the town hall roof? It isn’t equal to our need but contributes to lowering our bill and someday we may add to it. And, an array on your roof saves you from transmission and distribution costs for electricity which equal about half the typical bill.
Warwick hosts a solar project in W. Brookfield where we are “Net Meter Host” and for our participation, the project will pay us ½ cent per Kwh for the next 20 years. We anticipate about $40k per year. And, for our part, Warwick buys net meter credits from solar project in Clinton MA that is hosted by New Salem. Our twenty year credit purchase deal is saving us 22% (in dollars) on our town electric bills.
Town Meeting re-zoned our town-owned Allen Lot / transfer station property for “by right” commercial solar in our effort to both qualify for GC and to incent this type of development, even though the wired infrastructure nearby won’t support a lot of capacity. We tried and failed to initiate default alternative electric supply for residents by working with the Hampshire Council of Governments. We adopted the stretch code which provides flexibility for meeting efficiency goals in new construction and saves significant amounts of energy and money for the homeowner.
What is next? We are going to seek another round of GC grant funding. This time the use include making the member town school’s more efficient. And we are working on a Net Meter Credit purchase agreement for the rest of the school district. Lastly I want to add that we are proud that our Fire Association has incorporated energy efficiency into their new public safety building project.