December 31, 2008

City forms new energy task force

A new energy task force aims to find ways for the city to save money and reduce its reliance on power sources that contribute to global warming.

The panel, slated to meet for the first time next month, will analyze the city’s “different energy expenditures” and seek ways to cut back where possible, said city Councilor Craig Minor, who pushed for its creation.

The chairman of the panel, city Councilor Mike Rimcoski, said Tuesday that he’s still “waiting to see what we can do.”

Minor said he hopes that by taking a citywide look at energy, the panel may be able to find new sources of power, including solar panels and other methods that don’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The council approved the concept of creating the committee last summer at Minor’s urging.

It said the new task force should include “citizens from a wide range of viewpoints, including the business sector and municipal land use boards.
It was told by councilors to look into suggested steps as part of the U.S. Mayors’l Climate Protection Agreement to see which might be adopted by Bristol successfully.

Minor said “a lot of other towns” have found alternative energy sources that have helped them cut down on their use of electricity and petroleum products that add to global warming.

Since “global warming is the sum of all the smaller individual sources of greenhouse gases,” Minor said, Bristol’s success in scaling back its emissions will help the overall effort to prevent catastrophic climate change in the decades ahead.

In addition to Rimcoski, city Councilors Cliff Block and Ken Cockayne are going to serve on the panel.

Minor said he didn’t mind being left off.

“I have enough to do,” Minor said, adding that there are many qualified people in the community who can contribute more than he can.

“We have some real talent in Bristol,” Minor said, pointing to attorney Jennifer Janelle as one example of someone with genuine expertise who should have a role.

Minor said he hopes that residents such as Janelle, who already serves on the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., will have the opportunity to lend a hand.

The resolution passed by the council said there is “no longer any debate in the scientific community that climate disruption is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of global warming pollution.”

It also said that “because the skyrocketing cost of fuel” the city has “no choice but to look for alternatives to spending more and more money for less and less energy.”

The creation of this Task Force should not be taken to mean that the City Council believes that any of the City’s major cost centers – the Public Works Department, the Board of Education, and the Police and Fire Departments – are fiscally or operationally mismanaged,” the council motion said.

“On the contrary, the council believes that all of these cost centers have been creative in finding ways to manage in difficult financial times.  However, the impact of global warming and the fiscal situation facing Bristol and other cities around the country force us to take action to reduce both energy spending and the production of global warming pollutants,” it continued. 

The new task force is supposed to consider a fairly wide-ranging agenda that includes reviewing patterns of land use and community development to see if their regulations or practices that are not sustainable.

A report is supposed to be made to the council and funding for the effort is to come from the Board of Finance.

Here's an outline of the issue, provided by Minor:

Mayor's Task Force on Energy Consumption

CITY OF BRISTOL

(Voted to establish on July 8, 2008 by the Bristol City Council)


Background


On July 8, 2008, following up on its May 13, 2008 endorsement of the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, the Bristol City Council voted to direct Mayor Arthur Ward to establish the Mayor's Task Force on Energy Consumption. The motion was as follows:

On motion of Council Member Minor and seconded, it was unanimously voted: To establish the Mayor's Task Force on Energy Consumption to consist of citizens from a wide range of viewpoints, including the business sector and municipal land use boards, and with legal or technical expertise in energy consumption. The Task Force will review the entire list of suggested actions contained in the Climate Protection Agreement, and any others as they may see fit, and identify those actions which the Task Force determines to have the best potential to reduce the cost of energy spending by the City, and reduce the amount of global warming pollution produced by the City.



The purpose of the Task Force is to find ways for the City to reduce energy spending and global warming pollution without impacting the City's ability to provide essential services and a high quality of life to Bristol residents.

The City Council directed the creation of this Task Force for two reasons:


1. Because there is no longer any debate in the scientific community that climate disruption is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of global warming pollution, and


2. Because the sky-rocketing cost of fuel leaves the City with no choice but to look for alternatives to spending more and more money for less and less energy.

The creation of this Task Force should not be taken to mean that the City Council believes that any of the City’s major cost centers – the Public Works Department, the Board of Education, and the Police and Fire Departments – are fiscally or operationally mismanaged. On the contrary, the Council believes that all of these cost centers have been creative in finding ways to manage in difficult financial times. However, the impact of global warming and the fiscal situation facing Bristol and other cities around the country force us to take action to reduce both energy spending and the production of global warming pollutants.




Mission Statement


To review the suggested actions contained in the “U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement” and other actions with the goal of identifying steps which the City might take to reduce both energy spending and global warming pollution.

Responsibilities and Tasks

The Task Force is charged with reviewing the suggested actions contained in the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, and any others as they may see fit, and identifying what steps the City can take to better manage this situation. The Task Force shall prepare a Final Report containing its recommendations. 

In preparing its Final Report, the Task Force shall be responsible for all of the steps listed below, and any other related tasks that might later be added by the City Council:


        1. Review the suggested actions contained in the “U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement” and other actions with the goal of identifying steps which the City might take to reduce both energy spending and global warming pollution.

        2. Review, document and evaluate energy spending and consumption by the City. This includes motor vehicle use, maintenance and construction equipment, heating and air conditioning, street lighting and building lighting. The Task Force shall obtain this information from relevant department heads and other town officials as necessary.


        1. Identify possible methods of renewable energy production by the City and related funding sources. This includes photovoltaic panels, wind power, and fuel cells. The Task Force shall obtain this information from individuals, agencies, organizations, and businesses that are in this field including its own members.


        1. Review current patterns of land use and community development to identify regulations and practices that are not “sustainable”. The Task Force shall consult with town staff as well as conservation organizations and planning agencies.


        1. Determine up to five promising areas of possible spending and consumption reduction and energy production that should be implemented, based on their potential to produce significant results. 

        2. Identify the appropriate department or staff person to be responsible for the implement each of the five recommendations, if approved by the City Council.


        1. Develop a Preliminary Report for submission to the City Council for the Council’s review and comment. 

        2. Upon receipt of the City Council’s comments, revise the Preliminary Report accordingly and submit a Final Report for acceptance by the City Council.



Membership


The Task Force shall have up to thirteen voting members, all to be nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the City Council. All appointments shall be for a term not to exceed two years from date of appointment. Composition of the Task Force shall be as follows:


  • One member from the Board of Finance, Public Works Board, Board of Education, Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Planning Commission;


  • Three members with expertise in one or more of the following sectors: renewable energy, construction or development, and conservation/environmental protection; and


  • Five at large members.


The Committee will meet regularly, and elect a chair.


Staffing Assistance


The Comptroller’s Office will provide the Task Force with administrative support and technical assistance as required. Clerical support in the form of a clerk to take meeting minutes shall be provided. The City Council will request funding from the Board of Finance to cover the cost of the above departmental and clerical support.


Compliance with State and Local Laws and Town Policies


The Task Force shall conduct its activities in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and all Bristol laws and regulations.


*******
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

good idea, and how typical of the mayor to play politics. Rimcoski as chair? He was definitely trying to make a point to Minor.

Anonymous said...

Hpow come he waited so long????

I M A Dreamer said...

Next, Art will form a Task Force to save the Press, and put Collins in charge!

Anonymous said...

Last one out, turn off the lights!

That will save money.

Anonymous said...

How about Kenny Johnson?

Anonymous said...

To create yet another committee to produce another consultant's is absurd. The City should be doing this all along. I do have one simple suggestion. You might call it a start. Turn off those decorative street lights or at least turn them off after 10:00 PM. They are purely aesthetic (the regular street lights provide more than enough light) and most of the time they are on, there is no one there to bask in the fiscal madness.

Scrooge said...

7:31 - Happy New Year To You Also Mr. Grinch.

Anonymous said...

How about turning off every other street light? Also, increase the space required between street lights on all new roads and parking lots?

Anonymous said...

The problem with Bristol is we have too many boards, committees, sub-committes and task forces in this town looking into mostly minutia issues that the average person could figure out the remedies too. One reason the above listed entities are formed is so the person that suggested the formation of the body can get the credit for suggesting it. Most of them serve no real purpose and end up accomplishing nothing or dissolving over time after they are formed. I can specifically point to the Roberts Property Committee which was a 7 year committee which accomplished ABSOLUTELY nothing. They are formed just to simply please some special interest group to make them go away for awhile. We need less government, not more layers. Our elected officials should be making these decisions and not farming them out to lay person sucommittes. The only thing that boards and committees do is delay the process and put issues and decisions on hold.

Odin said...

12:40, please think for a moment about what you just said: "Our elected officials should be making these decisions...". They can't make decisions (not smart ones, anyway) without information, and information doesn't just spring out of the ground. Our elected officials are just lay people with no special expertise in energy consumption. If cost/energy saving solutions were obvious then they would just act on them. There are private industry consultants who make a lot of money doing what this citizens committee is being asked to do. Is that what you want the City Council to do - hire a bunch of consultants? Then you'd really squeal like a stuck pig.

wisely said...

as long as it doesn't cost us any more money at this time, go for it but we have enough to do now just to stay solid.