Platform Issue #4 – Zoppo-Sassu Discusses Energy & Efficiency Issues


In 2009, Mayor Art Ward created the Municipal Task Force on Energy to develop strategies increasing the use of renewable energy as well as reducing energy consumption and costs. This was an important step to develop a culture of conservation by educating everyone on what energy costs, as well as how carbon emissions affect us all.

Improving the energy efficiency of city buildings, schools, and municipal infrastructure – such as public lighting, water supply, waste water treatment and heating and cooling options – offers monetary savings for the taxpayers on such things as energy bills, and includes a wide range of other environmental and socioeconomic benefits.

In addition to the financial impact of good projects, there is also the larger picture. “I recognize that global warming is not just some hoax or an excuse to make a science fiction movie. It poses serious threats locally and globally. That is why in addition to the steps I lay out in this platform, as Mayor I will also join the hundreds of other mayor’s across America who are standing up to honor America’s commitment to clean and renewable energy,” Zoppo-Sassu stated.

As Mayor, I will recognize the important work that is being done, and look forward to supporting the Task Force and its recommendations. I also support the following:

  • the creation of an Energy Commission and a dedicated position to collect data and oversee the city’s 62 properties. This includes schools, which account for 70% of the total energy use citywide;


  • exploring ways to utilize renewable energy technologies along with continuing to grow the city’s curbside recycling and Open Space development programs;


  • work to address the challenges which discourage municipal energy efficiency projects;


  • encourage new construction and site design that are energy conscious and innovative including a fuel cell on our Middle Street property;


  • continue to educate the public on energy awareness and encourage public input;


  • support the establishment of our own Energy Bank. The bank would be funded with some of the savings provided by completed energy programs and used to help fund new energy projects.


  • revamp the RFP process to include an emphasis on the most sustainable and efficient materials available while taking full advantage of rebate and grant programs.


I see 3 key pieces to getting meaningful results for the community from both a cost reduction side, as well as for general environmental benefits:


Recognize and Support Existing Efforts. The former BCO, now HRA community action agency, has been weatherizing low-income family homes for years. The same should be established for businesses in a one-stop shopping system for energy efficiency services. Another great example of supporting existing efforts is the coordination of traffic lights on the Route 6, 72 and 229 corridors which has reduced the trip time in and out of the city. This creates a savings in motor fuel as well as in time and aggravation. The EPA estimates about a gallon of gasoline burned per hour of idling. These savings are small, and not likely to be noticed by individual drivers. However, collectively, this is a significant greenhouse gas and fuel reduction source. Another great example comes from the Bristol Public Schools, which recently used a state grant to convert outdoor lighting to LED lighting.

Community building and partnerships. The same should be established for businesses in a one-stop shopping system for energy efficiency services. “My intention is to make it as easy as possible start to finish to do whatever energy efficiency improvements make sense in the building for our participants. It’s these kinds of projects that alert people to the energy- and thus money-saving possibilities — and at the same time build public awareness of and support for broader environmental initiatives.” 

Regional Cooperation Energy Purchasing Program– In previous platform pieces I have talked about how important it is to not rely upon state and federal aid. It’s time to look seriously at regional cooperation for issues like energy purchasing for school districts and local public agencies which could potentially save tax dollars on the purchase of electricity, natural gas, and renewable energy, as well as pursue other grant opportunities.


  • Alternate Energy Source Opportunities – Evaluate all opportunities for solar, fuel cell, and geothermal on city buildings and projects as appropriate, including the continued acquisition of fleet vehicles that utilize alternative fuel sources and provide maximum efficiency.


  • Street Lights – A third of the city’s annual electric expenses come from the cost of street lighting. The city’s recent efforts to buy and manage its own street lights, a project that has been over 10 years in the making, is already helping to rein in those costs. Additionally, the LED city wide street light conversion currently underway will pay for itself in a very short time. (This summer the city is beginning the work of changing to LED lights in those fixtures)


  • In conjunction with the new Energy position, create a standing city-wide Energy Management Team for all schools, municipal buildings and operations like our water and sewer systems:


  • Involve students, teachers, city employees, board & Commission members, elected officials and other stakeholders in monitoring and coordinating progress towards meeting the goals of this city-wide energy plan and encourage collaboration and information sharing. For example, Eversource provides free educational materials, linked to Common Core Standards, that can teach students about energy efficiency and their environment.


  • Other examples of citizen involvement would be suggestions I received about the need for additional charging stations around town for those people who have electric cars and the desire for biking lanes.

This platform endorses short-term and long-term actions for Bristol to take, both to curb emissions from sources directly under its control, such as city buildings and vehicles, as well as to encourage certain behaviors among the residents of Bristol. The actions recommended in the Task Force’s Energy Plan will not only help to reduce Bristol’s contribution to global warming, but will also reduce associated emissions of pollutants, such as ozone and air toxics which cause health problems like asthma.


Paid for by Ellen for Mayor Committee, W. Dale Clift, Treasurer, Approved by Ellen Zoppo-Sassu

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