Arlington Energy Committee Meeting Minutes 5.4.22

Arlington Energy Committee


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

7:00 to 8:30pm


In attendance:, Mardi Crane, Alexandra Ernst, Garret Siegel, Karen Lee, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds,

Guest: Nick Zaiac

Absent: Mary Ann Carlson, Jenny Murtaugh

  1. CALLED TO ORDER: 7:02pm

3.1 Welcome and Outreach

Steph reported that Rick Coulter sent her an email with regrets that he just doesn’t have the time to commit to being involved with the energy committee at this time.  Because of the skyrocketing price of fuel, he has been overwhelmed with folks wanting to install heat pumps and just doesn’t have any free time.  He said he would get his estimates to Nick for the Town Hall pumps in the next few days.

Callie sent Steph a message that the Williams College BCRC intern will most likely be happy to help with a project we could identify.  We should be sure to identify something on which we could use his help.  It would be great to have Anna Freebern’s involvement, as well.

Action:  Steph to reach out to both of them.

3.2 AEC tab on town website  

Stephanie shared the content she has gathered so far.  She would like to have two different Resources buttons: one for Energy-saving Tools and Resources and another for Hope & Inspiration.  In the latter, we would include links to things to Listen, Watch, or Enjoy (read)—all things that remind people that there are a lot of great environmental projects going on all around us and fascinating innovations that should give us hope and encouragement in the face of climate chaos.  Never lose sight of hope and progress. 

Mardi suggested we add a link to Kim Stanley Robinson’s hopeful site: might be the right link.  She will check.

She also suggested this morning’s NYTimes article on entrepreneurs growing kelp: The Quest of a Long Island seaweed farmer

Action:  Steph to revise proposal and submit it to Nick.

3.3 Arlington’s Energy/CO2 Emissions Analysis

Karen reported on her discussions with Thomas Hand who was very helpful in advising her how to quantify CO2 and energy use.  Consequently, all the numbers in the analysis spreadsheet now reflect that calculation and Karen feels confident that the numbers are solid—with backing from third party professionals.  The current draft is nearly complete—just needs the cemetery numbers which Nick will send to her.  Karen also later noted that one line is incorrect: the $10.000 amount under Firehouses will need to be corrected.  Karen took us through each section. 

Next steps:  The committee will need to draft a written proposal that essentially gives guidance to the select board to help them identify the strategies they will employ to reduce carbon emissions—investments that will also save the taxpayers money in both the short and the long term.

Karen made a motion that the committee make a formal recommendation to the select board to authorize the Town of Manchester to write an RFP seeking bids this year for an entire building cold climate heat pump system for the Town Hall (Garret seconded.) Discussion ensued.  Karen pointed out that now is the appropriate time to do this, given the high demand.  If the town doesn’t begin the process, it won’t get onto anyone’s list for a long time.  Getting bids would allow the committee and the town to know how much to budget for this.

Mardi pointed out that the cost of fuel oil in 202 was just over $2/gallon.  Today, when she called Miles Fuels, the cost is $5.49/gallon and Miles said it doesn’t even know what it will be setting as its price for next year’s pre-buy, but it will likely be higher.  This means that, keeping the system in place that we have, taxpayers will be paying more that double what we paid just a couple of years ago ($45,000 to $50,000).  This is why we need to get bids now and get on someone’s list for next winter.

There was a motion to adopt the measure by Karen; seconded by Alex.  The vote was unanimous in favor.*

As Nick was delayed, the committee moved on to discussing other town weatherization projects. 

  • Mardi would like to see the committee encourage the select board to insulate the town garage this year (as well as the fire houses, if possible).  There is some question as to whether the town garage can be insulated, if the door must stay open much of the time…Is there any chance that it will be torn down and a new one built?
  • The LED bulbs for the Town Hall should be installed, as well as those for the Town Garage.

Alex pointed out that every investment in energy efficiency means money saved (which amounts to quite a bit over time)—money which can then be invested in all the ways that make the buildings and their functions run smoothly.  With fuel oil hikes this next year, Garret added that every bit the town can save will also be much appreciated by the taxpayers many of whom will be having a rough go of it.

The committee intends to provide three tiers of projects to the select board, prioritized  high, medium, low (back burner). 

Nick arrived and we shared that we would really like to attend the select board meetings more regularly (once a month) so that we can form a better relationship with them and report on our work.  Nick advised that we think about attending quarterly as other departments do.

*When we then told him about the motion voted on above, he advised that a more efficient route that would most likely be more successful would be to request quotes, not bids.  He gave an eloquent explanation on the difference between the RFP and quotes processes.  After some discussion about the importance of doing this as soon as possible, Karen moved that we abandon the former motion; Mardi seconded. All were in favor.  Then she moved that we amend the wording of the initial motion to read:

“The Arlington Energy Committee will make a formal request to the select board to authorize the Town of Manchester to seek quotes for an entire building cold climate heat pump system for the Town Hall.”  Garret seconded.  No further discussion warranted.  All voted in favor.

3.4 Town Projects Update

Nick reported that has collected bids for the LED bulb installation work (involving other electrical work at the town hall, too) and pointed to the stack of boxes of bulbs ready to be installed.

He also said he has three appointments to meet with potential insulators.  The awarded bidder will do a full installation of insulation at the town hall.

The town will also be buying 7 additional window inserts this year and Nick has volunteered hours to WindowDressers to do the build for these.

He also reported that all the weather stripping will be replaced, as well as broken window panes and maybe a door replaced.


4.1 WindowDressers updates

Steph reported that the site this year will be in Arlington’s American Legion from October 20-27.  The Northshire WindowDressers group will raise money to build 10 windows for the Legion for free.  Bryan Dalton has been and will continue to be active on this project, as has/will MaryAnn.  The key officers will be the same this year: Jim Salsgiver of Dorset is the build coordinator; Steph will be the volunteer coordinator; Jeff Dexter is head of outreach; and Jim Hand will head up the measurement team.  Karen Lee has graciously agreed to be a measurer again this year and Mardi will coordinate meal volunteers.  Everyone who can will also help at Farmers Market booth (and other sites where tabling can occur).

The committee needs to choose three dates to table at the Arlington Farmers Market, from among the following:  July 1, 29; August 5, 26; and Sept. 2 and 9.  Committee members are to get back to Steph with availability. Mardi has also generously offered to give us oak and sugar maple trees to raffle at our tables!  Thank you, Mardi!

4.2 AEC Bylaws and Restructuring

Nick explained that AEC Bylaws that we created last spring and which the select board adopted will need to be brought into compliance with government standards.  This will help legitimize the committee, putting it on the same footing as all the other departments that report to the select board.  They are modeling the structure after the same one Manchester is using.  This will codify what we are doing so that we can “legally” advise the select board.  Nick advised that we have only 5 members with as many additional participants as would like to attend and engage in the work at hand.  His thinking was that he wanted to protect the group from missing meetings in case we cannot meet quorum.  Discussion ensued:  Steph echoed that whether or not the select board appoints someone, they can still—as members of the public—continue to participate as much as they would like; they just wouldn’t have voting privileges.  Garret urged that the AEC have 7 appointed members, like all the other committees.  The difference in quorum would only amount to 1, meaning we would need to have at least 4 people present to conduct the meetings.  Garret spoke strongly in support of advising the select board to choose all of the currently active members who have put SO MUCH of their time and efforts (and resources) into the AEC’s work.  Nick said he would advise them to do this, although the decision rests with the select board. 

ACTION:  Nick will send the document on the restructuring procedure to all of us so that we can understand what we need to do next.

Next Meeting—July 6 from 7 to 8:30 at the town hall and online.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30pm.  Minutes by Stephanie.

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