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It was interesting to see a small item in last week’s Landmark about Unitil urging its customers to take advantage of energy efficiency opportunities. Because Unitil is an investor-owned utility, its customers pay a small surcharge — 2.5 mills or 0.25 tenths of a cent per kilowatt hour — that goes into a fund to help consumers access energy-efficient products and services. But because Groton is served by a municipal electric department, we pay no such surcharge, but also don’t get to take advantage of the types of programs highlighted in the Unitil article.

That shouldn’t, however, prevent our own Groton Electric Light Department from doing a better job of offering energy-efficient incentives and services to its customers. Other municipal light departments have very aggressive energy-efficiency programs. The town of Belmont, for example, offers its residents significant rebates on EnergyStar®-rated clothes washers, air conditioners, refrigerators and dishwashers. It also provides to its residents free of charge a program where any resident can call a toll-free number and speak to a qualified energy advisor who answers questions, offers advice and can provide a home energy audit.

That shouldn’t, however, prevent our own Groton Electric Light Department from doing a better job of offering energy-efficient incentives and services to its customers. Other municipal light departments have very aggressive energy-efficiency programs. The town of Belmont, for example, offers its residents significant rebates on EnergyStar®-rated clothes washers, air conditioners, refrigerators and dishwashers. It also provides to its residents free of charge a program where any resident can call a toll-free number and speak to a qualified energy advisor who answers questions, offers advice and can provide a home energy audit.

A whole host of good things happen when we reduce our energy use: We save ourselves and our neighbors money; we ensure a more reliable energy system; we keep our energy dollars in the local economy instead of sending them out of state or overseas; we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels imported from undemocratic, unstable or otherwise unfriendly regimes; and we reduce the harmful emissions from power plants that foul our air and warm our planet.

We benefit from a municipal light department that provides us with reliable service at good rates. But in this day and age of rising energy costs that take a toll on our wallets and our planet, we need our Electric Light Department to do more. Helping Groton electric ratepayers access and take advantage of energy-efficient products and services is a good place to start.

JIM O’REILLY

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