EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 11, 2013

Atkinson commission hopes people power down

Energy Commission offers residents an outlet

By Alex Lippa

---- — ATKINSON — Around this time each year, Jim Garrity said, there is one thing that always jumps out at residents.

“They see that oil bill stuck on their door for the first time in November,” he said. “It really gets their attention.”

But Garrity and the rest of the Atkinson Energy Commission are hoping to make that bill less daunting for residents.

The Energy Commission is hosting “Powering a Bright Future” on Oct. 21 and Nov. 4, a two-night discussion group about energy efficiency. Residents will share ideas about ways to conserve energy and how it relates to climate change.

“We have a lot of challenges ahead,” said Michelle Veasey, chairman of the Energy Commission. “Energy is getting more expensive, so we are looking to share different ideas which would be useful to the community.”

Prior to the meetings, Veasey will provide interested residents with a series of essays compiled by Northwest Earth Institutes, a nonprofit environmental group, about solar energy, fuels and conservation strategies.

“We just want to make people think a little more about what they are using,” she said. “It’s an open discussion, not a presentation, and we want people to talk about what’s been helpful for them. You hope to learn things from other people. I think it can be a great way to help each other with problem solving. Everyone has a slightly different situation. There’s always something that can be done, whether it’s turning off lights or unplugging devices.”

The Energy Commission, formed in 2007, works with town officials to develop a energy plan throughout the town. They also do an audit of municipal buildings and provide the town feedback on energy-saving measures.

The commission hosts several events throughout the year, including an annual energy fair, but members would like to see higher attendance.

“It is generally a moderate to light response,” vice chairman Michael Mascola said. “It’s discouraging.”

Members hope the interactive component will encourage a larger turnout for this event.

“It’s a different kind of format, as opposed to your general trade show or lecture,” Garrity said. “This is something more informal for anyone who wants to chat and ask questions.”

Garrity said the committee chose to hold these sessions in the fall, to help prepare residents for the winter.

“As winter comes along, there is a great opportunity to stretch your dollar further,” he said. “We’ll talk about the ways you insulate your home and different alternatives for heating. I think we’ll also discuss electricity and talk about the competitive electric market.”

The sessions will start at 7 p.m. at Kimball Library.