PARIS — Maine School Administrative District 17’s operations committee invited Norway’s Center for an Ecology-Based Economy to address the school board on strategies to incorporate energy efficiency into the school district’s eight-town operations. The discussion was led by John Snell, an energy and technology expert who works with CEBE.

The Center for an Ecology-Based Economy’s Scott Vlaun (left) and John Snell addressed the Oxford Hills school district’s board about energy efficiency options available to SAD 17 during their Feb. 6 meeting at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway, Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

“CEBE’s mission is to help communities adapt to climate change, utilize renewable energy and use electric transportation systems,” Executive Director Scott Vlaun told board members as he introduced presenter John Snell. “We’ve worked with the school district before through our history. We helped with the solar EV chargers over at the high school. We worked with middle schoolers to build a greenhouse over at Roberts Farm, our education director has worked on outdoor learning with SAD 17 staff at Agnes Gray and Otisfield schools.”

Vlaun also told directors about CEBE’s work with area communities through Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership on reducing emissions, transition to clean energy and prepare for the effects of climate change.

In addition to shifting to more efficient energy options, Snell explained other strategies to save on heating expenses. He pointed out that two SAD 17 schools, Guy E. Rowe and Harrison Memorial schools, utilize window quilts to insulate window drafts. Going forward, he suggested the district include five strategies to counter volatile fuel prices and wean off its use of fossil fuels.

“For fiscal year 2023, fuel expenses for SAD 17 are projected to be $2.3 million dollars, compared to $1.3 million dollars during 2022,” Snell said. “The more that can be done to minimize (fuel use) the better off everyone else will be.”

One strategy is transitioning to solar energy. Snell said that currently it costs less to build and install solar panels than to purchase electricity. Another alternative is to enroll with community solar programs and incorporate highly efficient electric heating and cooling systems over time.


Electric-powered school buses are another option for reducing reliance on fossil fuels, using funding available through federal and state programs. Snell said that SAD 17 could qualify for up to $2 million dollars from Efficiency Maine to upgrade its transportation program.

“We want to help you follow the money” to pay for upgrades, he said. “We can help write grants and (research) money that’s out there.”





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