Hamden will see more microgrids, LED street lighting, and electric vehicles if the vision of a new Municipal Energy Planning Guide (MEP) takes hold.
Brendan Smith, a member of the Energy Use and Climate Change Commission (EUCC), presented that 12-page guide to the Legislative Council on Monday night. It was unanimously approved by the Environment & Conservation Committee and will be voted on by the full council next week.
Click here to read the document.
Over the past two years, the EUCC has met with vendors of innovative products and services to explore the most cost effective ways to make Hamden more energy efficient.
The result is a compilation of “tried, true, and tested technologies,” in the words of commissioner Larry Rosenthal, “that will eliminate the need for Legislative Council members to scratch their heads” concerning which strategies they should implement to both decrease debt and help the environment.
The primary goals of the plan are to reduce energy expenditures, improve public health, increase comfort and quality of town spaces, and, importantly, strengthen Hamden’s resiliency. Commission member Larry Rosenthal described the guide as a “50,000-foot-level overview of what we intend to do with green energy technology measures throughout the city.”
Some of those intentions include:
• achieving 100 percent renewable energy within municipal buildings and facilities by 2050.
• decreasing transportation-generated emissions.
• and moving towards “microgrids,” multiple small power sources throughout the town that would allow individual buildings or areas of town to maintain power and preserve energy even when the broader electric grid fails. (We’re all aware that Hamden is disproportionately hit by increasingly temperamental weather conditions compared to other Connecticut municipalities.)
In an interview with the Independent, Rosenthal highlighted components of the plan. He said Hamden has 6,900 street lamps, and that simply switching to LED lamps with minimal blue light could save the town around $500,000 each year, cutting the costs of keeping the lights on in half.
Rosenthal added that given Hamden’s location, it should aim to capitalize on the high number of people who live outside of town but pass through the area regularly on their commutes to work. Given the increasing number of individual electric cars, investing in charging stations would encourage people to stop and charge their cars and explore the town, as opposed to quickly getting gas and moving on, he suggested.
“Have them drive into the Hamden plaza, park their car and go out for a bit to eat at Panera Bread,” Rosenthal imagined. “That’s one reason why charging stations are important to us — they’re gonna grow our economy.”
This is the first year that Hamden has produced or adopted such a document. The idea is not only to compile smart energy saving strategies suggested specifically for the town by sustainable professionals, but also to get one step closer to Sustainable CT Certification.
Sustainable CT is a program in which municipalities accrue points for taking certain actions, such as crafting an energy plan, that are standardized across communities within the state. Read more here about efforts taken by Kathleen Schomaker, Hamden’s energy efficiency coordinator, to get Hamden on track towards certification by this July. New Haven received the highest level of certification back in 2018.
A municipality may earn more points per action depending on the degree of thoroughness taken by the town in pursuing an individual goal. Rosenthal said that the aim of this first draft was to identify strategies that would require little to no capital expenditures. “Our budget is essentially sub-zero,” Rosenthal added. “We don’t want to spend the bucks, but nor do we have to.”
Next steps include developing the guide to ascribe costs and estimated savings to each suggested step outlined in the current document (“I’ve seen plans that reach 50 pages,” Rosenthal noted). Beyond that, the commission is working to get clearly defined bike designation lanes on all of Hamden’s streets in order to promote equitable and sustainable transportation possibilities. That’s part of a broader Connecticut policy known as “Complete Streets.”
“It’s all about resiliency and sustainability,” Rosenthal concluded. “If we follow our mission based on achieving both categories, hopefully Hamden will be a better place in the next 20 to 30 years.”
“ the commission is working to get clearly defined bike designation lanes on all of Hamden’s streets in order to promote equitable and sustainable transportation possibilities. That’s part of a broader Connecticut policy known as “Complete Streets.”
-Awesome! CT needs every municipality to make streets safer for bike riders and pedestrians and defined bike designation lanes on all streets and bike left turn boxes at intersections will help make it easier for people to get around without a vehicle.