, Newburyport, MA

May 13, 2014

Amesbury plans region's first 'green' car station

By Jim Sullivan

---- — AMESBURY — Carriagetown plans to be the first city in the region to have an electric car charging station, part of an effort to push a “green energy” initiative.

Mayor Ken Gray and Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development William Scott are promising to make Amesbury much greener by the end of the year and will start by presenting their 2014 Energy Plan to the City Council at their regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall tonight.

“The plan makes use of a creative combination of multiple funding opportunities that will finance energy projects throughout Amesbury,” Gray will post on his blog today. “These projects utilize new technology to improve our energy conservation efforts while also reducing costs.”

Recently designated a Green Community by the state of Massachusetts, $228,775 of the $300,000 Energy Plan will be coming from state grant funding and 87 percent of the Energy Plan will be financed by outside sources. The mayor plans to roll the plan out literally as well, with the addition of the Water Department’s new electric 2014 Ford Focus EV to read the city’s water meters. The vehicle runs solely on electricity and a dual connector charging station located in the downtown parking garage will also be unveiled to complement the vehicle as well as provide public access to charging. The mayor also plans to use the recently announced “wayfinding” grant from the state to guide the public to the charging station.

“We will be the first community in the area to have a charging station,” Gray said. “People can come here to charge them and while they are waiting, we hope they will visit our downtown restaurants and businesses.”

November will begin the city’s most visible changes when 133 downtown period lights will be converted to LED technology which the mayor said will save Amesbury over $26,000 annually in energy, labor, and material costs. The outdoor lighting at the Cashman Elementary School, Amesbury Middle School, and Amesbury High School will also be retrofitted with LEDs. Many of the door seals in all the city’s schools as well as in municipal buildings will also be replaced or improved to minimize drafts and save on heating costs.

“There are a lot of benefits with respect to the energy itself,” Gray said. “But the (LEDs) also require less maintenance, their lives are longer and they give a nicer effect. So we are really excited about that.”

November will also see a pair of new BigBelly solar-powered trash compactors replacing two existing public trash receptacles. Equipped with data-logging technology, the BigBellys can be monitored by smart phone and will notify the DPW when they are full.

“I can’t wait until I get smart phone messages telling me that our BigBellys are full,” Gray said.

December will bring the completion of a feasibility study regarding a potential solar field development on the former Titcomb Landfill site on South Hunt Road that could potentially serve the city for decades.

“The city has been talking about a solar field at Titcomb for years,” Gray said. “So we are finally going to be able to get this out of the starting gate.”

An assessment will also take place at Amesbury Middle School with the goal of reducing the building’s energy use by more than 20 percent.

Gray also said he plans on adding a part time Energy Manager to provide support for the plan. The position will also be funded through grant money.

“I want to thank the City Council for their support of our efforts to aggressively pursue these opportunities over the past few months,” Gray wrote. “Councilors Joe McMilleon and Anne Ferguson are spearheading an effort to transition our Energy Task Force into its new role as a formal public body to be known as the Energy Committee. The Energy Committee will provide essential policy direction and transparency throughout the implementation of our energy initiatives.”

The mayor will also deliver his fiscal year 2015 budget to the City Council tonight. No discussion is planned this evening with Finance Committee public hearings beginning Wednesday night at 7 p.m.