Opinion

‘Positive Energy’ one year later | Guest Column | June 18

In May 2009, a group of concerned citizens and organizations formed the Bainbridge Island Community Energy Task Force to think globally and act locally by creating a clean energy solution for a more sustainable future.

The task force has created an ambitious, collaborative strategy for decreasing our cultural demand for fossil fuels and has seen some recent success.

To develop a clear plan for addressing energy efficiency, peak-load energy management and renewable power generation options, weekly meetings were held with the task force and leaders from local groups such as Community Energy Solutions (CES), the City of Bainbridge Island and Puget Sound Energy. Conservation Services Group (CSG), a national pioneer of clean energy resources, also participated in the meetings.

Together, this collaborative group – along with support from U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee – attained two grants totaling nearly $5 million. Most of the funds will be used to educate the community on the Bainbridge Island Energy Challenge’s comprehensive approach to energy efficiency.

The grant will also help expand our market presence and combine innovative energy-management tools with the effective coordination of energy assessments, as well as do-it-yourself measures and home energy education.

We expect this amplified plan to facilitate many commercial and residential building evaluations on Bainbridge Island, greatly reducing our community’s carbon footprint while increasing a local “green collar” economy. Jobs will be created, while energy, money and natural resources are saved.

Phase 1 of the Energy Challenge launched in October 2009. This two-year residential “smart grid” pilot addresses the demand for long-term energy needs in the Bainbridge community.

The pilot is free and currently has approximately 600 participating homes and 100 openings available. Homeowners with electric heat or hot water are encouraged to enroll in the pilot. Kitsap Credit Union and the city are designing low-interest financing for residential and commercial energy-efficiency upgrades.

In May 2010 – one year after the Energy Task Force group was created – the name was changed to Positive Energy. Now partnered with the local nonprofit organization, Sustainable Bainbridge, Positive Energy is preparing to launch Phase 2 of the Energy Challenge. It’s an ambitious campaign to help residential and commercial consumers minimize energy waste and maximize energy efficiency and renewable-energy projects.

Our efforts depend on your community support. We’re currently recruiting local “energy ambassadors” who will be trained to support and educate the community on reducing its immediate carbon footprint. They will also help connect the community to local energy-efficiency resources.

To become an energy ambassador, email Jaco ten Hove at tenwells@aol.com. If you are interested in being part of the “smart grid” pilot call, 1-877-287-3461 to sign up now.

Small actions matter, as do big ones, and the cheapest energy is what we can conserve. We appreciate your positive energy in reaching the goal of a unified, energy-efficient Bainbridge Island.

Positive Energy: Bainbridge Alliance for Clean Power

Steering Committee members:

Jaco ten Hove, Hilary Franz,

Eric Rehm, Maradel Gale,

Tim Wentzel, Chris McMasters

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