Energy Committee Meeting Minutes 3.2.22

MINUTES

ARLINGTON ENERGY COMMITTEE

March 2, 2022

Members Present:  Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Mardi Crane, Garrett Siegel, Alexandra Ernst, Bryan Dalton, MaryAnn Carlson

Members Absent:  Karen Lee, Jenny Murtaugh

Also Present:  Nick Zaiac, Jim Hand (Dorset)

Called to Order at 7:02 PM by Chairperson Moffett-Hynds

Old Business:

Guest Jim Hand, Dorset Energy Committee, joined the group for the first ten minutes of the meeting.  He said he was happy to see the Climate mitigation fund and carbon neutral vis a vis 2020 levels initiatives pass in Arlington and praised those responsible (citizens Mardi Crane and Karen Lee in consultation with Nick Zaiac concerning protocol) for making these possible.  He also encouraged the AEC to put the Arlington Common fitness center on our list of projects so that we might help them work out a plan to address the current baseboard electric heating system which must be very expensive to operate.  If they have not already had an energy audit, that would be a good place to start.  Heat pumps would probably work vert week in that building. Steph will call Bebe Bullock to begin the conversation and Jim would be happy to assist.

Website Update:  Understandably, Nick hasn’t had any time to devote to this since our last AEC meeting.  He plans to work on an AEC tab and page in the next couple of weeks.  Nick will share what he is working on with Bryan who will assist in any editing or suggestions.  The page will have a link to another site that 3 or fewer of us can administer where all sorts of additional resources and links can be posted.  This will not be an official AEC site. If there is any question about appropriate content, since the site will be linked to our town page, please check with Nick. This second website will be created by Mardi Crane.  All AEC members are encouraged to check the site and send suggestions for content to Mardi.

AEC YouTube Channel:  No new videos to vet.  There will be a link to the channel on our new page.

New Business:

Town Meeting:  As mentioned earlier, Articles 20 and 22 passed (280 to 264 and 287 to 258, respectively. 

  • Article 20 says: To vote by ballot to see if the town of Arlington shall create a sinking fund named the Arlington Climate Mitigation Fund for the purpose of reduction and/or offsets of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel usage by the Town of Arlington.
    • Article 22 says: To vote by ballot to see if the Town of Arlington shall seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels used by the Town of Arlington, through energy efficiency, carbon sequestration, and adoption of renewable energy, subject to the budgetary constraints in the Arlington Climate mitigation Fund, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2027 relative to 2020 baseline levels.

Article 21 did not pass (244 to 297). 

  • It says: To vote by ballot to see if the Town of Arlington will vote the sum of $50,000 into the Arlington Climate Mitigation Fund for the purpose of reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel usage by the Town of Arlington contingent upon the ratio of the Arlington Climate Mitigation Fund.

Discussion: What does this mean?  The committee interprets this as meaning that the majority of voters want to see the town take measures to become more energy efficient in response to climate change, but that the sum of $50,000 wasn’t something that not quite as many felt ready to commit to. The committee was heartened to know that so many people are ready to move forward and that the select board now has the support they need to move forward with more authority on climate mitigation and response.  Every weatherization and energy efficient step the town takes will be a smart investment ultimately lowering taxpayer expense while lowering our carbon footprint and making our town buildings (and, thus, our town) more resilient. 

Next steps: 

MaryAnn asked:  Are there funds or matching funds out there from the state and federal government that can help us with the upgrades?  Nick: not a lot, just yet, and could take time to acquire.  MaryAnn: Is the select board planning on moving ahead with the weatherization upgrades already identified by the energy audit of 2020?  Nick: yes, the town is already planing on soliciting bids on the attic insulation and will change out the bulbs to LEDs. He is grateful to Jim Hand for providing additional, really helpful photos of the attic (from when he last stopped by to get a sense of the building and to offer suggestions on weatherization). The severe housing crisis has, quite understandably, taken much of the focus over the past year or so. 

Mardi pointed out that if S518 passes, there should be some money there to help us.  She also urged the Town to go ahead and put weather stripping on the Town Hall front and back doors, as Robin’s office gets ridiculously cold due in large part to the big gaps under both of those doors. Nick: will handle this out of operating funds and will ask newly elected select board member, Jamie Paustian, and Dan Harvey to help install the strips.

Next big AEC project: Mardi suggested that  the AEC provide the select board with a comprehensive spreadsheet with real numbers of what needs to be done to bring Arlington to net zero carbon emissions vis a vis 2020 levels.  She has already gathered most of the figures on town fuel use and costs, etc.  She suggests that the AEC accompany the spreadsheet with a report that helps prioritize energy efficiency measures and also promotes additional steps Arlington can take to offset it carbon footprint.  One of her suggestions is planting trees to sequester carbon.  She is trying to figure out how many trees would need to be planted and exactly how much carbon is stored by trees as different stages.  She needs help with this project. Many of the committee members said that, while they might not be able to take on a huge project, they would be happy to go away and research specific things that Mardi identifies.  Alex will look into the carbon sequestration for trees.

Mardi made a motion that the AEC begin to work on the total financial analysis for the town immediately.  Garret seconded that motion.  Discussion: MaryAnn reminded everyone that there are a couple of Arlington residents who can probably help with this, as they have been planting lots of trees along the Battenkill:  Don Keelan is one.  She says she thinks sequestration estimates for agriculture have also already been figured out.

The motion was voted on and passed unanimously.

Mardi said that she knows Karen will also help with this and that she is so proud of the Arlington voters for taking this first big step.

Garret suggested that we make sure that we are on the select board agenda next fall to ask that the Climate Mitigation Fund be funded.

WindowDressers: Madison Kramer has posted on Happening in Arlington, letting everyone know that the two community builds will be happening again this year.  The builds will happen between the dates of October 13 and 27.  It has not yet been decided whether the Southshire or Northshire will go first. The Northshire build is still looking for a suitable location.

AEC Structure: the committee confirmed that it will continue as is, a formal part of the town.

Energy Coordinator update: Nick reported that no town energy coordinator had been selected yet, but that he assumed it would be someone from the select board.  It could, however, be anyone interested (they don’t even need to reside in Arlington).  A member of the AEC could be the coordinator.

Battery Storage: Nick reported that  battery storage is a current challenge for Arlington. The select board is looking at storage space at the W. Arlington pump station (theirs could last 3 to 4 days) and at the E. Arlington pump station.  They realize that the Red Mtn. Spring pump would best function with backup battery, instead of fuel.

OTHER

Outreach: It was suggested that we find ways to put the word out now, while we have had some recent visibility, to welcome more people to come and be a part of our good work.  Steph will post something on Happening in Arlington.  Nick, too, will make some facebook posts letting people know when we meet.

Mardi also suggested that we put together a booklet that would be a guide to energy savings that we could not only make available to Arlingtonians (at farmers market, etc), but also to people throughout the state.

Stephanie brought up again her wish that we have an art competition in the schools (K through 12) to design our AEC logo.  We should come up with an appropriate prize.  What should it be? Who is the art teacher at the school should with whom we could talk?  Who would like to reach out to the school?

Stephanie also reported that she spoke with Bill Christian from N. Bennington about the home energy savings tool kit he made and that anyone can check out from the McCullough Library.  Steph will share his directions with the rest of the committee and hopes to go check the kit out one of these days.  If it makes sense, the committee could create similar kits for folks to check out from Martha Canfield Library,  Nick thinks there are funds to support this.

NEXT MEETING:  APRIL 6 at 7pm at the Town Hall and virtually.  Please get agenda items to Stephanie asap. She will send the agenda to Nick no later than March 31.

Motion to adjourn by Alex. Seconded by MaryAnn. Unanimous. Meeting adjourned 8:32.

Minutes:  Stephanie

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