Arlington Energy Committee
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
7:00 to 8:30pm
IN PERSON AT THE TOWN HALL and ONLINE
In attendance: Mary Ann Carlson, Mardi Crane, Alexandra Ernst, Karen Lee, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Jenny Murtaugh
Guest: Nick Zaiac, Callie Fishburn (BCRC), Jim Hand (Dorset Energy Committee)
Absent: Garret Siegel
- CALLED TO ORDER: 7:02pm
- MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING: Approved
- OLD BUSINESS
3.1 AEC tab on town website: Nick asks that all links and resources be provided to him before the next AEC meeting (June 15). Members should send resources to Stephanie to compile. Mardi advised that one of those resources be a pdf of the town’s Enhanced Energy Plan. She will also send Stephanie a History of the Arlington Plan to include on our site. Stephanie will also look on the Dorset Energy Committee’s site to see what they provide.
3.2 Outreach: Steph has done some initial research on Bennington College’s CAPA program. There is definite overlap in our missions. She and Garret will pursue reaching out to them to see if there are students who would like to spend time with us. The language they use in their letter will also be used on our site, on Happening in Arlington, and in approaching AMHS. Steph thinks we should also put up a flyer in all area businesses (including Mack Molding) saying who we are and inviting folks to join us. In other words, we should have a subcommittee really take this on and make an organized, concerted, full-court press.
3.3 Arlington’s Energy/CO2 Emissions Analysis – Mardi & Karen
Karen shared their most recent draft. Nick will help fill in the numbers for the cemetery gasoline use (15-20 gallons per week from April-Nov.). There is still a fair amount of confusion over the electricity expense for the street lights. Because the upgrade occurred before Nick’s time, he couldn’t provide insight into why it is so high. Jim Hand offered that Arlington probably has an equipment lease and that our contract probably reflects costs to repair, etc. This should be located.
Most of the ensuing conversation focused on the problem of how to calculate and assign carbon emissions from the electricity the town gets from GMP. While GMP says on its website that over 90% of it is carbon-free, experts around the state (and beyond) report otherwise. They point out that GMP’s portfolio includes Hydro Quebec, an operation in Canada which does have considerable Earth-impacting emissions before the water goes over the dam. Considerable methane is released from the vast area that has been flooded. The Agency of Natural Resources was tasked ten years ago to publish a report analyzing the real emissions and footprint of the electricity VT gets from Hydro Quebec. Although this was mandated, the ANR has yet to provide this report. Hence, VT citizens don’t know how “clean” this power really is. Many analysts, Thomas Hand for example, conclude that GMP’s portfolio is about 65-70% carbon-free/renewable and 30-32% not carbon-free. Karen and Mardi will consult with Thomas to see how he would calculate the KWh for our town’s energy analysis.
Jim recommended that we look at an app called ISO to Go, New England which is a “free mobile app for on-the-go access to the ISO’s real-time power grid data; including the latest pricing data, current system demand,” according to its website: https://www.iso-ne.com The website shows price maps, snapshots of the current mix of fuel use in New England, system demands, etc. Can access from phone or computer.
After a great deal of discussion, the committee decided that we had a responsibility to be transparent about the discrepancies between GMP’s assertions and those of engineers who disagree with it. As a matter of record, we will include a caveat that recognizes this discrepancy, along with a description of the issues both resolved and unresolved. We aim to the best we can to provide the town with a complete picture, so that decisions made about Arlington’s portfolio will take all of this into consideration. To that end, the analysis will include two columns (Karen made the motion; Mary Ann seconded it; all were in favor): one using GMP’s KWh numbers and one which assigns their KWhs as 65% carbon-free, according to ongoing evaluation of the situation by experts.
Karen also brought up the big issue that electricity isn’t as big a problem for Arlington (and the state) as our diesel use is. For Arlington, diesel is more than half of our carbon footprint! Discussion ensued. Karen offered that we need to do several things at the same time, using a combination of strategies: carbon sequestration, diesel reduction, etc.
Nick advised that we stay focused on the spreadsheet items.
- NEW BUSINESS
5.1 Report on final VECAN workshop: ARPA Funds – Steph sent out her notes yesterday to the committee to review before today’s meeting. She will include them as a resource on our website.
Karen reached out to Bekah Custer at VECAN to find out if there is already a template on how to do a comprehensive town energy analysis and Bekah (after consulting with director, Joanna Miller) said that nobody else in VT is doing this. They would be happy to promote it, once we get it down solid. Our formulas could be very useful for people anywhere, not just in VT.
Mardi pointed out that it is a goal to finish this plan and analysis with adequate detail so that it can be a template for any other town, or even small businesses to use. Part of the goal is to submit the Plan to a relevant open-access, peer-reviewed publication. A goal is to publish in such a way as to hold a “community commons copyright” that would allow anyone in the world to download and use the materials–in essence, make it transparent and cookbook-easy for others to interpret and use.
Callie added that Regional Planning Commissions have worked with every town to create their Enhanced Energy Plans, but nothing that goes into quite this amount of detail.
This would be an excellent point to make with Benningon College’s CAPA and AMHS: a worthy, potentially ground-breaking effort in which to get involved.
Nick reported that Glenn Sherman and Jamie Paustian are the joint committee members working on the ARPA funds. He advised that we talk to them to make sure they know that climate mitigation measures are important to our town. Certainly, we will make a formal presentation to the select board as soon as the analysis is complete. We can then ask for specific follow-up meetings with Glenn and Jamie.
OTHER: Mardi was a panelist on a recent climate panel at the Manchester Community Library hosted by Manchester Democratic Party. She shared the AEC‘s goal of being able to make solid recommendations to the town by providing a comprehensive energy analysis. This should help the town prioritize decisions.
Next Meeting–Please note that this is an odd meeting time: Wednesday, June 15, 2022 from 7 to 8:30 at the town hall and online. We will resume the normal first Wednesday of the month after this (July 6).
Meeting adjourned at 8:30pm. Minutes by Stephanie.