Sierra Club Newsletter Article

The following article was originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of Maine Sierran: the newletter for the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Green Sneakers Project Gets Rolling in York County

Former Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility staff member Melissa Boyd leads a grassroots effort.

The Maine Partners for Cool Communities’ Green Sneakers Project is moving full steam ahead to improve energy efficiency in Maine’s KEYS area (Kittery, Eliot, York, and South Berwick). The KEYS is the fastest growing region in the state.

The person doing much of the grassroots work for the Green Sneakers effort in Southern Maine is Melissa Boyd. Melissa is very familiar with Cool Communities work – she was actually involved in founding of the group while on the staff of Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“It’s really exciting now to be working right in communities – doing grassroots organizing for the group that I helped get started.”

In the KEYS area there are two programs which are boosting the potential for residential energy efficiency – PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) and the Seacoast Energy Initiative (SEI). SEI has $500,000 in funding from Efficiency Maine that is available for low interest loans to homeowners who wish to make their homes more energy efficient. The program covers the towns of Eliot, Kittery, North Berwick, South Berwick, Ogunquit, and York.

PACE, which is a statewide program, offers up to $15,000 to homeowners for energy efficiency improvements. The loans are repaid via a special assessment on the property tax over a period of years. The Green Sneakers Project is organizing a number of public forums to explain the PACE program.

Melissa notes that her work has expanded beyond the original KEYS towns and now includes Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, and North Berwick.

“Kennebunk has been particularly active,” she says. There is a PACE forum on October 6 which features a local homeowner who received a PACE loan. And the forum will be broadcast on public access TV.”

Kennebunk also agreed to include information about the PACE program in their tax bill package.

Much of Melissa’s work in the KEYS will involve organizing a canvas in all the KEYS area towns on October 22.

The Green Sneakers canvas involves recruiting volunteers to go door-to-door in their communities, talking with their neighbors about the benefits of energy efficiency and offering a reusable shopping bag full of valuable information and a free CFL bulb.

“We are working hard to inspire people to get out and do canvassing, but we also want to keep the momentum going after the canvas,” Melissa says. “Ultimately we want to get the message across about the importance of energy efficiency in helping with climate change.”

As part of her efforts, Melissa is working with high school green and energy clubs.

“We are getting kids excited and hopefully, inspiring them to get out and take part in the canvas.”

Special signs with the Green Sneakers website will be posted in every town. There will also be letters to the editor and op-ed pieces in local papers.

Melissa hopes that all the work in the KEYS area will lead to citizen teams that will continue the work.

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