Hampton, library sets example for efficiency

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An Editorial

Hampton Union, Friday, December 16, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

Lane Memorial Library has already begun an energy-efficiency effort that saves the town money and does good for the environment. With approval from Hampton's voters, the library could take another step in that direction and help the town become a role model to other municipalities around the state while also making a great case for the importance of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

It's amazing how much has changed since 2008, when voters rejected a $350,000 warrant article to replace the heating and ventilation systems at the library.

"The article failed spectacularly," said Amanda Reynolds Cooper, the library director.

It turns out voters made a wise choice that forced the town to consider other options. The Energy Committee got involved in 2010 and a study conducted with help from the Rockingham Planning Commission led to library trustees spending $38,000 on a new boiler system with a $9,000 energy-efficiency rebate coming from local utility Unitil Corp.

The two new projects voters will be asked to approve in March call for two zero percent loans from Unitil totaling $79,964 to replace the library's chiller system and install new lighting. The projected energy savings is $1,140 a month on the library's utility bill, and the money would be used to pay back the loan. If the savings projections are accurate, this is a win-win situation for the library and the town's taxpayers.

Unitil said it can offer the zero percent loan thanks to RGGI, which involves 10 states from Maine to Maryland and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 10 percent by 2018.

Tim Noonis of Unitil said Hampton is the first town in the state to take advantage of the loan program.

"The (goal of RGGI) is the more businesses take advantage of these programs, in theory, the less electricity they will consume," Noonis said. "In theory, power plants will operate less frequently, therefore reducing greenhouse gases."

It's easy to see why selectmen are already cheering the Lane Memorial Library project. If approved, the projected combined annual savings for energy-efficiency projects at the library is $25,000. That's from a budget of $60,000. And the tax impact will be zero, town officials said.

"The taxpayers in Hampton will not have to pay anything," Selectman Jerry Znoj said, vowing the board will support it "100 percent."

Hampton could potentially do good beyond saving taxpayers money and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from the library. It could set the tone for more projects in town buildings in Hampton. And Hampton's example could be followed by other municipalities around the state.

The program has been expanded to included commercial businesses, too, with a $50,000 cap per project.

"This is the best opportunity we will ever have," Reynolds Cooper said.

Good for Hampton for moving to take full advantage.

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