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From the First Selectman 9/2/16

It’s back to school and a time to reflect on the extraordinary learning that goes on in our schools and the exceptional knowledge that resides here in Woodbridge. Fortunately, we do not face the frightening controversy happening across the country and at the federal level as to whether we are a people that believes in scientific evidence. We know that the overwhelming conclusion of climate scientists is that global warming (climate change) is happening and that it is caused by human activity. And we have taken action, here in our small town.

Woodbridge is taking innovative steps to do our part for a sustainable energy future. We have facilitated individuals making a difference themselves and our efforts at the municipal level will slow pollution and save money and energy.

Fuel Cell Powered Microgrid: This month we will see new evidence of our commitment to clean and reliable energy when a fuel cell is installed at Amity High School. In the event of a prolonged power outage, this fuel cell will power the underground microgrid that will provide back-up power, not only to the high school, but to our other Town Center buildings, including our emergency shelter. We expect the microgrid construction to begin this fall. With super storms becoming more prevalent, we will need this sort of reliable, back-up power. This project is funded through a state grant that former First Selectman Ed Sheehy had the foresight to apply for.

Energy Conservation and Home Energy Audits: Since 2009 Woodbridge has been promoting home energy audits and it has paid off. Well over 200 Woodbridge homes have gone through the audit and received important advice about how to make their homes more energy efficient. Environmentalists tell us that a “Nega-Watt” –a watt not used – is three times more cost-effective and non-polluting than a newly generated watt. That is, conserving energy is the most important step we can take.

Solar: Woodbridge is a state leader in solar applications per capita. The amount of solar in Town has increased dramatically in the past decade: Amity High School, Beecher Road School, the JCC, Massaro Farm, approximately 100 homes. And we are currently working on a project for a large solar installation on the capped landfill.

Transportation: Transportation is a major contributor to the build-up of greenhouse gases. The Town has taken advantage of a state grant to install two Electric Vehicle hook ups – a move that encourages the transition to fewer fossil fuel propelled vehicles. We also participate in the school bus “no-idling” campaign – another way to encourage the reduction of fossil fuel use and pollution.

Best Organic Practices for Town-Owned Lands: For the past several years we have had a Town ordinance prohibiting, with certain exceptions, the use of pesticides on Town-owned land. More recently, we are looking at guidelines that will help promote practices that encourage butterflies, bees and birds; we have taken steps at the Fitzgerald property to begin adopting those practices.

Open Space: Woodbridge and its conservation partners hold an impressive amount of open space lands with ~3000 acres of protected open space (~25% of the Town area) and another 1500 acres of other open land (~12% of the Town Area). We are also home to many miles of beautiful hiking trails.

Food: Many of us don’t think of food production as a major polluter, but indeed it is. And we are also learning more and more about the advantages of locally grown and organic foods. Woodbridge has become an active supporter of Town farms. We have made the nearly 60 acres of the Town-owned Massaro Farm property available at no charge to the not for profit Massaro Community Farm; our Library has started a summer Farmers’ Market where locally grown produce as well as locally raised organic meat is available.

Town Residents and Employees: Our town could not make these advances in fighting climate change and promoting a healthy environment without our dedicated Town employees, who promote best practices in their work every day, and our Town residents who so generously share their time and considerable expertise in guiding our decisions.

To stay up to date about Town news and events, sign up for the Town’s email news-letter at tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews, follow us at Facebook.com/WoodbridgeCT and check the Town website: www.woodbridge.ct.org.

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