Arlington Town Energy Committee Meeting Minutes 11.16.20

Arlington Town Energy Committee meeting

Monday, November 16, 2020, 7:00pm, via Zoom

Present: Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Mardi Crane, Bryan Dalton (notes), Rich Lederer (Zoom host), Karen Jernigan, Karen Lee.

Guest: Arlington Town Administrator Nick Zaiac

Next meeting Monday, December 7, 7:00 via Zoom hosted by Rich L.

OLD BUSINESS

Town Hall weatherization: 

·      Nick: no updates. Hope for more responses from contractors in winter. Upside: this moves the projects into the next budget year. He knows what insulating the attic will cost. Rebates will be reduced.

·      Request has been made for another tranche to change out the lights at the Rec Park. Could save a lot of energy. In 2021, rebates for this expected to stay high. Has a town handyman, and Nick, who can swap out light fixtures.

·      Boiler: companies that sell boilers (Cota, Dorr, Miles Fuel) told Nick that nothing much to be gained by replacing the current boiler, as commercial HVAC design has not progressed.

o   KJ: her company, PowerGuru, have a lot of towns and commercial businesses signing up for Power Walls.

o   NZ: We’re married to oil heat the next 3 to 5 years, and have pre-bought fuel through the [***???] heating season. Boiler duct work recently tightened up.  Heating companies said we wouldn’t get efficiency value out of a new oil system; only, if we changed fuel source.

o   KL: couldn’t disagree more or more enthusiastically. Replaced own boiler. Efficiencies tremendous, even sticking with oil; new systems incredibly more efficient.

o   BD: maybe check with entities that do not sell heating oil.

o   NZ:

§  AEC earlier agreed that hybrid heat pumps aren’t a good fit for the Town Hall with its subdivided office spaces.

§  But AEC did decide it was best to replace the boiler.

§  The Select Board wants to get away from oil heating.  A powerful incentive to switch off of oil is that the existing underground oil storage tank threatens to leak into the Battenkill, may not pass muster with insurance much longer, is costing a lot to insure.

§  We already did an energy audit on Town Hall and know what we need to do. Start with small projects on money-available basis.

·      Board had to do an addition to the rear entry for insurance reasons (falling ice).

·      Board definitely wants to insulate the attic.

·      Replacing hot water heater not worth it, given the small amount of water heated.

·      Bryan will revisit where we left the project of replacing Town Hall lighting, after the survey in summer.

·      SMH: About one year ago, the Board agreed to set aside $5,000 for weatherization of Town Hall. Status? Also: insulating made a big difference in her own home.

o   NZ: Will check. Believes it was placed in a trust fund for eventual work; will check whether it was budgeted, though it’s not a line item in the current budget.

o   Mardi: considering heat sources: electric heat pumps do both cooling and heating, and can have an air filtration option.  Look at cost of electricity vs oil.

·      NZ: plans to swap in new air conditioning units. We don’t use AC much: 4 units, 15 hrs/week total max, in summer.  Very little electricity, vs the larger cost of heating in winter.  He is factoring in workman’s comp and property damage into amortization of new A/C units. The old ones are heavy and damage the windows, and cost labor installing and removing.  He needs to learn more about heat pump technology, constraints, etc.

o   Mardi: researched and is installing heat pumps, completely powered by her 39 solar panels. Invited Nick to visit and talk with Rick Coulter, who is installing the HP. Maybe do HP for one or a few large areas, not the whole building.  There are low-cost loans available.

o   NZ: Town we can’t enter into debt currently. Would have to be voted in by voters. Maybe can ask for COVID money since it’s for HVAC.  He is watching stipulations closely, and has mandate from Board to apply for any COVID funding if we qualify.

·      SMH will send KJ the Weatherization Works energy audit of Town Hall.

Bennington Banner articles: Our first one was published Wednesday, Nov. 11.  Write more!

GNAT TV series:

·      Mardi met Andrew McKeever. Now in MC’s court to send him MP4 finished copy instead of .mov files. Expects to get to them in a few days.  Will share with group when it’s on. We could have an AEC YouTube channel.

·      KL and MC have an agenda of projects. MC been doing video clips for 2 months. The film “Kiss the Ground” made her realize how many principles are applicable to homeowners and gardeners; she plans to integrate those into future videos.  Steph suggested she post them on the What’s Happening Arlington Facebook page. Today Steph posted a notice there for ButtonUp VT, from AEC.

Power Guru, report/update on educational events:

·      11/17 evening 30-minute Zoom, 6-6:30 on CATV TV and FB. VT State Rep Mantaka from Energy committee re incentives for weatherization and energy efficiency for homes and businesses; Becca White; realtors real estate angle what homeowners are doing for property value; PowerGuru update on Biden’s energy plan. Per Steph’s suggestion, KJ will post notice on What’s Happening Arlington.

·      Steph recommends watching their ButtonUp efforts at the new Lake Paran housing development

NEW BUSINESS & things coming up

·      The State of Vermont has just relaunched its plug-in electric vehicle (EV) incentive program with an additional $950,000 for eligible new EV purchases made on November 5, 2020 or later. While funds remain, you can receive up to $4,000 toward an EV purchase or lease, in addition to other incentives you may qualify for. Visit our incentives page to learn about the state, federal, and utility incentives available.

·      Steph encouraged AEC members to sign up for sessions of the VECAN conference, which is aimed at Energy Committees.

·      We deferred discussion of the potential of regenerative agriculture for sequestration of legacy carbon. 

·      Solar power for Arlington Town street lights and West Arlington Fire Dept:

o   KL reports that Rich & Howie Lederer, and Jim & Karen Lee will soon finish solar array on Ed Pike’s barn, and propose to Select Board on Nov. 23 to share the solar credits from it to the Town to give discount on their street light bills. Upcoming, it may be possible for Mardi’s solar panels to be a source for the West Arlington fire station.  It’s a nice example of the potential for private-public solar collaborations, as all the involved entities are located in Arlington.

o   NZ: can keep an eye out for tax sales of land where municipal solar panels could be installed to supply low-income residents.

o   KL: the panels need not be on Town land, but can be on private land or buildings. Any income taxpayer who wants to can team up with another customer within the Green Mountain Power system.  Costs are 100% deductible; finance companies are lending for solar projects at 4% interest, while the return on selling solar credits to Towns is 14-15%.

o    

OTHER

·      Link to EXCELLENT resource from VCRD for community leaders (Steph recommends for potential AEC projects): https://www.vtrural.org/leadership/guide

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