Fairfield looks to a sustainable future with Saturday workshop

Solar panelsin the outfield at the Tom Haydon softball field on Old Dam Road are among the 32 solar energy projects the town has constructed. Fairfield,CT. 1/26/18
Solar panelsin the outfield at the Tom Haydon softball field on Old Dam Road are among the 32 solar energy projects the town has constructed. Fairfield,CT. 1/26/18File photo / File photo

FAIRFIELD — The town is saving closed to $3 million a year in energy costs, it’s implemented three bike routes, and it even has its first electric vehicle as part of the town fleet.

But the Clean Energy Task Force would like to see more be done and has put together the town’s first Sustainability Plan, covering everything from renewable energy to locally-sourced food. Now, the panel wants to hear what residents think and is holding the first of two public workshops Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Road.

Scott Thompson, chairman of the task force, said the group has been functioning in town for about 15 years and has been involved in many “green” things beyond clean energy.

“In late 2016, we had discussions with the first selectman and agreed that the timing was right to develop a broader and more comprehensive ‘green’ plan, and that the CETF members would lead it,” Thompson said.

Their work on the plan began at the beginning of 2017 and took about the whole year to complete the first version.

“The plan will ‘live and breathe’ and the proposed actions, I’m sure, will change with time, depending on resources, needs, technology, and focus,” Thompson said.

A key part of the two workshops — the second is slated for Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at Fairfield Warde High School — is to “stimulate and challenge individual action.” Thompson said they hope residents that attend will “come learn about the great work Fairfield has done and where we want to head.”

Another of the group’s goals, he said, is to align its actions with the state’s Sustainable CT program. “I am happy to say we are well ahead on the learning curve,” Thompson said.

“Sustainability is a critical focus of the town’s long-term strategic vision, and linking and coordinating our many projects on this front has never been more important,” First Selectman Mike Tetreau said. “Because Fairfield’s citizens are crucial to the long-term impact and success of these efforts, we’re eager to ensure that our community has a strong voice in the planning process.”

The plan lists both long- and short-term goals in specific areas, like renewable energy, food, drinking water supply, forest and trees, automobiles, biking and walking, and community outreach and education. Work is still in progress on goals in the areas of financial, waste, natural environment, built environment, and air. The complete plan can be found on the town’s website.

According to the plan, in regards to renewable energy, the town has built 32 solar energy projects and there are 400 homes with solar energy panels and two town microgrids. Short-term goals for 2020 are to have the town get 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and increase the residences with solar energy to 500. A long-term goal is 100 percent of the town — including businesses and residents — getting their electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

Automobile goals for 2020 include three town-owned electric vehicles, 200 registered EVs, replacement of — at least the start of — school buses with those that run on natural gas and propane, and formal opposition to state efforts to widen Interstate 95 for capacity. The town purchased its first EV in 2015, and over 15 EV chargers can be found in town. There are currently 56 electric vehicles registered in Fairfield.

The plan proposes a long-term goal for automobiles that would see 100 percent of transportation in town provided by sustainable sources.