Lanesborough Joins Energy Program; Meets With State Rep

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi met with the Selectmen on Monday to get a handle on the issues they think are important.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A committee assessing the town's energy use has found a way to reduce the monthly electric bill by about $400.

The committee received approval from the Selectmen on Monday night to move forward with a contract with Universal Electric Co. to refit lighting systems, air conditioning units, thermostats and other electrical infrastructure in three town-owned buildings.

According to Gordon Zaks, the group worked with Western Massachusetts Electric Co. to assess Town Hall, the Highway Department and the Police Department for usage.

Western Mass Electric's program provides incentives to refit electrical fixtures to become more energy efficient and the group wants to tap into that.

"Our payback looks very good; our electric bill will look very good," Zaks said.

Zaks estimates town's spending on electric would reduce by about $4,500. The program provides the incentive and the difference between the incentive and the installation is paid back over a 2 1/2-year period, Zaks said, but added that there is no initial money down.

Meanwhile, monthly bills will drop by about $400 and Zaks is looking to make sure that covers the payments for the installation.
The Selectmen approved moving forward with the program but added they would like to extend it to the Fire Department. Zaks was unaware that the town paid for the electrical usage at the fire station and since the school had already been proactive in energy efficiency, those two buildings were left off. He said the committee can include them in the future.

Town Administrator Paul Sieloff said the new fixtures solve immediate problems — including adding motion dectectors for lighting and a sophisticated heating system that will allow the town to reduce usage. He added that a light fixture outside of Town Hall is so old that it is difficult to find a replacement, so this alleviates that problem, too.

In other business, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, sat with the Selectmen to find out what the town wants out of Beacon Hill. Particularly, the Selectmen said the Department of Environmental Protection's regulations impede road projects.

Sieloff used Putnam Road bridge work as an example. That project had been in the works for years and the bridge was set to be restored last summer. And then the DEP asked for an Article 85 review at the last minute.

"We have been ready to start building until this last-minute impediment and that killed that construction season," he said.

Chairman John Goerlach also expressed frustration with state funding repairs for town roads. He said the town wants to renovate Summer Street and applied for a MassWorks grant and didn't get it. Meanwhile, Pittsfield received grant funding from the same source to repair the McKay Street parking garage.

Cariddi said many of her towns have expressed concerns with DEP regulations.

"They got a large sum of money from that same fund and it is frustrating to see that," he told Cariddi, adding that those funds would go "a long way" for road projects.

Cariddi said those are issues many towns in her district have talked to her about.

"I get correspondence from the people and they are interested in environmental issues or transportation issues," Cariddi said of Lanesborough residents specifically.

She told the Selectmen that she is still advocating on the town's behalf regarding the city of Pittsfield's proposed ban on trucks on Peck's Road. Lanesborough says it would hurt business in town because it would force vehicles to take longer routes.

She asked if payment in lieu of taxes programs are of concern because many Northern Berkshire towns are asking for more from entities that pay them. Seiloff said there aren't many in Lanesborough but if there are in the future, they'd certainly be interested in raising those payments.

"If those opportunities come along, I'd say yes," he said.

Selectman Henry Sayers added that school funding and school transportation is costly for the town and he would hope see some financial reform on Beacon Hill for those.

Tags: energy efficiency,   MassWorks grant,   roads,   

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