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Borough Assembly

District 8 Homer

Posted: Monday, September 24, 2007

Way back in July of '07, I attended a national conference in Arkansas to learn how communities like ours were coping with high energy costs and the effects of global warming. What I learned was at once sobering and hopeful. All over this country, cities and counties are springing into action with spirit and determination to meet the arguably biggest challenge we will have to overcome in this century.

The bottom line about arresting climate change always starts with conservation. This conservation will not only lower emissions, it will keep tax dollars in our pockets instead of energy provider pockets. As I look around the borough and see our schools and other government operations, I see huge opportunity to stop wasting energy and money. The amounts of money we spend on electricity and heating fuel would fund a lot of athletic programs and keep more teachers on staff to boot.

As a heating and ventilating contractor, I am a long time advocate of energy efficiency. I was even given a plaque saying "Alaska Craftsman Home Program, Bill Smith, Founder, Dedicated to Education and the Shelter Industry, October 27th, 1987".

The ACHP was the pioneering program developed to promote energy efficiency. Of course I was only one of many who helped develop the program. My point is that I have a deep understanding of the subject and I think it is time for a greatly renewed effort to conserve energy.

The already high cost of energy will go nowhere but up. We don't need to resign ourselves to paying more money to the oil companies. We can put in place conservation measures and then use the savings on those high bills to get back the investment and then some.

There are previously infeasible measures which are now well worth doing from the perspective of a good return on investment. The sooner we launch this effort, the sooner we will reap the benefit.

The possibilities are fascinating and once a community gets launched into action there are created opportunities for new goods and services to be delivered by the private sector. A company dedicated to lighting retrofits could generate enviable profits. Alternative energy generation businesses are sprouting up and doing well.

The borough government has a role to play beyond conservation in it's own operations. The borough, either by itself, or through a nonprofit, could enable small business outreach programs to support investment in energy saving or energy generating technology. There are state and federal programs where we can obtain funds and assistance.

Nationally, many communities with fully developed programs are willing to supply the templates that for programs that work.

There are many things to be accomplished by the borough, but energy conservation and emissions reductions are imperatives. If we respond well, we will reduce our cost of government and we will reduce our carbon emissions. Let's hope we get both done before we go broke and before we break the climate.



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