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Cedar Key: a model for energy conservation

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By Tom Deverin

At the recent well attended Educational Outreach Program that the City of Cedar Key hosted, several interesting items were discussed. Ron Hendrick, who is the Waste Reduction Manager for the Florida DEP, stated that he was going to use Cedar Key as an example of what a small community can do to reduce waste and conserve energy. Our little group of islands is a model for energy awareness, conservation and sustainability.  Imagine that!
One of the reasons that we are the model is because of all of the lodging establishment’s owners and managers in attendance at the meeting. These establishments received several of the City of Cedar Key’s Conservation Awards for the full implementation of recycling programs at their businesses. In Cedar Key, 82-percent of lodging establishments offer recycling to their customers and about 90-percent of all rental units have recycle bins in their rooms. These numbers are extremely high, so hats off to them and their staff for a job well done. Plus, with additional assets provided at the meeting, recycling should increase at these businesses.
The meeting was about more than recycling.  In broader terms it was about energy conservation. Recycling is part of energy conservation as we conserve energy when we recycle.
Sue Colson was asked to compile a list of projects that the city has completed over the last three years that conserved energy and water,  protected our environment and beautified our city.  Many of these projects have contributed to lower electric and water bills for our city now and into the future. It was a very impressive list for a city of about 700 people. Following are some of those completed projects:
-There are almost 20,000 kw of solar panels on the Community Center and City Hall and the school traffic lights are solar powered.
-The reclaimed water storage and irrigation project saves many thousands of gallons of drinkable water per year.
-The Cedar Key Welcome Center has been retro-fitted with the latest energy efficient insulation, windows, heat pump, etc.
-The Cedar Key Elementary School was upgraded with low flow toilets and motion-sensor faucets saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year. The city has also upgraded the restrooms at City Hall, the City Park and the Community Center.
-There are bikes and a golf cart for police and staff.
-All of the city’s street lights have been standardized with low cost fixtures which also protects our night skies from light pollution.
-We have the designation of being a Clean Marina.
-There are now sites throughout town to collect fats, oils and grease so that they can be disposed of properly.
-The city hosts the Hazardous Waste Day every year along with participating in the International Coastal Cleanup every year.
-We now have curbside recycling making it so much more convenient for everyone to recycle.
-There have been trees planted and other landscaping done at the City Park and Marina.
-Our beautiful island city received the USDA’s Community of the Year Award in 2010.
So to our government leaders and staff, our business owners and staff and to our residents, y’all get a big atta boy and atta girl for your efforts to conserve. Your actions are why our city is the model. Thank you.