Middletown Township Looks Toward Creating a More Sustainable Future

“It's going to be done with community input, community involvement, and community agreement and all stakeholders involved,” said Environmental Advisory Committee Chairperson Lauren Lareau.
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Photo courtesy of Bucks Free Press.

As the Climate Clock keeps ticking, Middletown Township knows that there is no time to waste in creating a more environmentally sustainable community. 

The Middletown Township Environmental Advisory Committee met May 24 to discuss community outreach, modifying buildings to be more eco-friendly, and future renewable energy sources. 

The EAC’s goal is to encourage sustainability in Middletown to boost the quality of life and help the community adapt to the climate crisis, according to the township’s Climate Action Plan. 

Taking action to combat climate change, even on a local level, is imperative since the UN recently reported the Earth is likely to warm at least 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2027, BBC News reported

One of the EAC’s goals is for all of Middletown’s electricity to come from a renewable source, according to the Climate Action Plan. 

The pressure to do something is increasing and residents have to figure out how to move forward collectively, said Kevin Deeny, an EAC member. 

One option is starting a Community Choice Aggregation program, which would allow the local government to obtain renewable energy on behalf of local businesses and residents. The EAC voted unanimously to provide the Board of Supervisors with a write-up on the pros and cons of CCAs. 

The EAC attended a workshop in Haverford and decided to look into CCAs after Joule Energy, a renewable energy company, did a presentation on CCAs, Kopera said. 

“We have all these homes that were built in the 1950s without regard for the environment and so they’re not energy efficient,” said Chairperson Lauren Lareau. 

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The sooner the township takes action, the better, Deeny said. 

“The more time it takes the less time we have to act and the clock has been ticking for a long time,” he added. 

CCAs automatically enroll everyone with an opt-out option but most people stay in, Lareau said. 

The Board of Supervisors would have to approve the plan and get permission from the Public Utilities Commission before implementing anything, Lareau said.

“It’s not like the board of supervisors are going to take this, get it and then jam it down people’s throats. It’s going to be done with community input, community involvement, and community agreement and all stakeholders involved,” she added.  

CCAs are already in place in Westchester and Suffolk counties in New York and are usually cheaper than the main power supply

“It’s very beneficial to sit back and think things through and original ideas and what is going to be beneficial, but it may spark another thought that would be beneficial to attack and I think that’s where we came through,” Kopera said. 

Solar panel installation is another area Middletown could work on but efforts have run into red tape. Areas that could have solar panels are protected open spaces and the township would have to waive the open space requirements, said Vice Chairperson Andy McAloon. 

The EAC previously recommended the new elementary school replacing Pearl S. Buck Elementary School install solar panels on the roof, Deeny said. 

The EAC also discussed weatherizing homes to make them more energy efficient, which can include insulating pipes, plugging leaks and replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones, citation, according to the Department of Energy. 

The EAC discussed creating an online database with information about weatherization and companies that perform the work, specific to Middletown. 

Educating homeowners about energy efficiency is key since every homeowner has to make the choice for themselves, Deeny said. 

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“More and more people are looking to do this and it’s kind of like Keeping Up With the Joneses, people start to do, and then their neighbors see what they’re doing and it starts to catch on,” Lareau said. 

The Middletown Township Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Climate Action Plan in 2021, Levittown Now reported. The plan lays out emission reduction goals for 2025, 2030, 2040, and 2050. 

The goals involve reducing energy use in buildings, replacing township vehicles with electric ones, transitioning to renewable energy sources and decreasing how much people drive. The majority of Middletown’s emissions come from the commercial sector, residential homes and transportation, according to the CPA. 

The Board of Supervisors approved a contract to buy renewable energy from Freepoint Energy Solutions that went into effect on May 1. All township-owned buildings, properties, and streetlights will be using power from renewable sources, Levittown Now reported

The next EAC meeting will be on June 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Center at 3 Municipal Way.

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Eden MacDougall

Eden MacDougall is a freelance journalist and Temple University alum. He also covers education for Billy Penn.

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