Springfield Pledges to Move to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Sourced from the Springfield Sun

Being first to the finish line is rarely a bad thing, especially when that finish line means an environmentally friendly future.

Springfield Township took a step last month to become a sustainable trendsetter in Montgomery County.

A resolution adopted by the board of commissioners enjoins the township with more than 100 cities and municipalities endeavoring to move to 100 percent renewable energy over the coming decades. Springfield’s resolution promises a transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and renewable heat and transportation by 2050.

The commitment stems from the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100, a national campaign that encourages and assists municipalities in transitioning from fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy sources.

Bill Sabey, Montgomery County’s Ready for 100 Coordinator, arranged a volunteer team in November of 2017 to promote the resolution to local municipalities. Springfield was the first in the county to pledge.

“Jay Smith of our environmental advisory commission presented to the commissioners in December, and we were surprised at how quickly they acted on it,” Patrick Eddis, EAC chair, said. “You could tell through their language that they really put thought into it. They took our suggestions, and they ran with them. It was clear that they were having [thoughtful] conversations behind the scenes.

"The EAC had been looking at a resolution like this for many months, with lots of discussion,” Eddis said. “[EAC members] Jay Smith and Stephen Heverin really put a lot of energy and great ideas into it, and those efforts helped drive the bus. In the end, the commissioners adopted a resolution that was as strong and clear as we could have hoped for. It was a bold, necessary step on their part."

The resolution prioritizes locally produced and distributed energy and will gradually look to utilize wind, solar, small hydro, tidal and geothermal sources to satisfy the township’s needs.

“We had no opposition,” board President Jeff Harbison said. “It’s an aspirational resolution. Our sense is that it’s worthy and where we need to go to be responsible. My hope is that the whole world will have made that switch long before 2035.”

“I think it’s great that they took that step to be the first in Montgomery County. That’s what leadership is all about,” Eddis said. “Now we have to get to work.”

Among Springfield’s energy-efficient aspirations, some solutions are already underway. Since joining the Regional Streetlight Procurement Program in 2017, the township has employed roughly 1,500 LED streetlights within its boundaries. The new fixtures use one-half of the electricity as their predecessors. Officials estimate $15.3 million in net savings over the next two decades.

“The lights [will pay] for themselves,” Harbison said. “They use less electricity, the bulbs last longer and they require less maintenance.”

The Free Library of Springfield Township, renovated in 2017, features a roof tempered with 6 inches of dirt, top soil and green vegetation.

“The green roof saves us a bunch of energy. That decision was made through a cost-benefit analysis. We had to make the roof stronger, and that was an extra cost, but it was worth the investment,” Harbison said. “The main benefits are enhanced insulation and stormwater capacity.”

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