Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Greening Lewiston creates savings

By Scott Taylor , Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

LEWISTON - Efforts to green the city's school and government operations are focusing on budget savings instead of environmental theory, officials said Tuesday.

"The underlying goal of reducing and saving makes sense," city Councilor Tom Peters said. "Exactly why we do it, that's not as important. What matters is that we made the changes."

Both city councilors and school board members heard a status report on Cool Communities Maine, an effort to get Maine municipalities to reduce their overall carbon footprint to pre-1990 levels by 2012. Joan B. Saxe of the Maine Partners for Cool Communities said global warming is a driving force behind the effort.

"Global warming is pretty evident at this point," Saxe said. "You hear it all the time from a variety of experts that it really is happening."

The Cool Communities initiative urges communities to do business in more economical ways, cutting down on engine idling, using more durable and energy efficient appliances and encouraging recycling.

So far, 14 Maine municipalities have joined the effort - including Lewiston and Auburn. Saxe said Lewiston has done a good job promoting recycling and converting traffic signals from traditional bulbs to LEDs.

Last week, Lewiston councilors heard a report on replacing traditional street lights with LEDs in some parts of the city on a trial basis. LEDs require less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. The city has already replaced many traffic signals with LED lights.

Councilor Nelson Peters said he supports the effort, but for different reasons.

"I like the idea of saving energy, but I don't buy the idea of global warming," he said. His brother, Ward 1's Tom Peters, said it's still worthwhile.

"I think we need to stay away on political questions and just focus on what this can do," Tom Peters said.

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