Arlington Energy Committee, second meeting
Sunday, April 28, from 7:00 to 8:30pm at Arlington’s Community House.
Present: Rich Lederer, Charlie Moore, John Williams, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, MaryAnn Carlson, Alex Ernst
Special guest Madison Kremer, BCRC VISTA intern
- John Williams, who is on the planning commission, reported that he approached the select board about how to make our energy committee more visible. Keith Squires okayed our having a tab on the town website where we can post our minutes and announcements. We send these to Robin Wilcox and she posts them here: https://arlingtonvermont.org/the-latest/. John’s impression is that the state would like every town to have an energy committee (in order for towns to get grant money) and to have a coordinator from that committee who interfaces with the select board. Keith mentioned that Arlington had a town energy coordinator, Reggie Jennings, but he is no longer serving in that capacity. That position is now vacant. It would be really great to have someone from our new committee to fill that need so that there is clear communication between the committee and the town. John suggested that Jessica Roberts might be perfect for this, as she is really good with outreach. We would love to have her join us. She is very involved with Arlington Renewal.
- Charlie forwarded the article in the Bennington Banner regarding Bennington’s new energy committee and the concerns and guidance that Bennington’s select board had in terms of the committee’s priorities, projects and timeline.
- The Arlington energy committee discussed that in the future, it will need to identify the avenues for getting the word out about meeting dates and projects.
- Steph reported on her meeting with Jim Hand last week. He is a member of the well-established Dorset Energy Committee. He had a wealth of information to share. He advised us to focus on electric and thermal efficiency projects first and to start with the low-hanging fruit: changing to all LED light bulbs, digital thermostats, insulation, on-demand power strips, etc. Before jumping into technology projects (solar arrays, wind power), begin by identifying the projects that will bring the quickest return in savings that are also the cheapest to do.
He advised that we begin our journey by first really understanding our own GMP bills. Jim gave a formula for each of us to figure out by consulting our bills which will give us a good idea of how much potential our homes have for improved efficiency. Stephanie will clarify what that formula is, but here is some information from a subsequent email with Jim:
There are “two sets of energy numbers that everyone should collect. The first is just the total number of kwhrs from your Green Mountain Power bills for a year. This is just electrical consumption. It has nothing to do with heating unless you use heat pumps or space heaters (ugh). The second set of numbers to collect are: the total numbers of gallons of fuel (ie. fuel oil or propane) and cords of wood, if used. Additionally, the number of square feet of heated/conditioned space are needed. From there we can construct the numbers of BTUs needed to heat/condition the square footage. The key threshold number is 40,000 BTUs per square foot. If you are over that there are definite opportunities to achieve an ‘acceptable ROI,’ for money spent on ‘insulation work.’ If you are under, there are still opportunities. It is just that the ROI time line would be extended. If you can get both of these numbers for your house, we can use them as an example during the walk thru.”
Jim has offered to do a walk-through of Steph’s home with the committee to point out what one looks for in identifying efficiency improvements. Steph will ask him for three possible dates and then share them with the committee.
Jim also advised us to visit the GMP Energy Innovation Center in Rutland (EIC). We could sign up for a tour. They do an excellent job of educating people on efficiency projects and provide guidance on best practices. This is what their website says: “The team at the EIC collaborates with many partners, including our in-house neighbors Efficiency Vermont and Neighborworks of Western Vermont. Together, we are improving the lives of our customers and showcasing many of our innovations right in Rutland, our Energy City of the Future.
Here is a link to the EIC: https://greenmountainpower.com/2016/09/23/energy-innovation-center/
Jim said that once we understand our own bills and energy efficiency needs/goals, we will be in a much better position to help our town and fellow residents.
Rich volunteered to look into the school’s bills to see where the needs are there.
- Charlie Moore has been talking to Efficiency Vermont, Grassroots Solar, and GMP, discussing battery issues. There should be much better battery storage in just a couple of years. The GMP Constraint Map of Arlington shows that the grid here only has about ten percent capacity for adding electricity from wind or solar. This may be because the transmission lines cannot handle much more. The rumor is that GMP will hold large solar arrays responsible for the cost of upgrading the transmission lines. This would be problematic. Charlie reported that Bill Laberge would be happy to come talk to us. Rich also volunteered Jim and Karen Lee of Solar Pro here in Arlington.
- Rich described his personal solar installation and how happy he has been with it. We’ll include a description in minutes from a future meeting.
- Charlie also described how pleased he has been with his heat pumps.
- MISSION STATEMENT
Special guest Madison Kremer, of the BCRC, guided us through an exercise to create our mission statement which will serve as our touchstone. She first asked us to identify our goals for our town. Secondly, she asked us to identify the who, how, why necessary to make those goals come true. In short order, we crafted a mission statement, based mostly on that of Brattleboro and borrowed some language from Charlotte’s statement. This is what we came up with:
The mission of the Arlington Town Energy Committee is to assist Arlington residents, businesses, schools and Town government in reducing energy consumption and costs through conservation, increased energy efficiency, conversion to renewable energy sources, and the promotion of energy education and awareness. The committee will assist the Town (Energy Coordinator) in planning and carrying out projects to advance these goals and will serve as a resource to the town on energy-related issues.
Madison also said that VECAN would prefer to have a point person registered with them for each energy committee. While Stephanie is not willing to commit to the role of chairperson long-term, she is willing to function as such through September in order to see that the committee gets underway. She intends to stay active with the committee, but also knows that her schedule in September is going to get really busy and involve a lot of travel. For now, she will continue to propose agendas, send out meeting reminders, and take minutes.
- UPCOMING EVENTS:
- May 2, Shaftsbury Town Hall, 5:30pm, the BCRC will host a panel on residential energy efficiency. NeighborWorks and BROC will focus on weatherization services available
- Next meeting is June 2, 7:00 to 8:30pm at the Arlington Community House.
- Stephanie will get three dates from Jim Hand to do a walk through with us all at her house to identify efficiency improvements and will share these with all and pick a date.
Look at your own bills and apply the equation.