Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bentonville Leads on Alternative Energy Planning

Looking at alternative energy as a cost-effective, sustainable way to power local homes and businesses, Bentonville citizens and city planners participated in an American Planning Association conference yesterday afternoon to consider how planners can utilize local energy in their communities. One recommendation from the national panel of alternative energy experts was that cities should start offering incentives to residents for utilizing wind and solar energy.

In this time of economic hardship and looming energy and budget crises, one of the smartest things that Bentonville did was to participate in the conference via the Web, instead of having to take extra days off to travel to the conference, increase the carbon footprint by flying across the country, and saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars in expenses for airfare, lodging, and meals. They learned just as much from participating in the Web Conference, and that is sustainability in practice, in deed not just words.

Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin did not participate or issue a press release, and his name was not even mentioned in the news stories, but those participating were the city planners who can make a real difference in implementing alternative energy practices on a day to day basis. It was also open to participation by Bentonville "citizen planners." Good thinking.

Wednesday's Web conference was part of Bentonville's recognition of National Planning Month and the focus on "Green Communities," and the city also is conducting a citywide cleanup day this Saturday. That's not as much self-congratulatory publicity as Fayetteville's mayor staging another sustainability event as part of his reelection campaign; however, it does make a small but real difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.

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