Energy Committee Meeting Minutes 7.13.22

Arlington Energy Committee


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

7:00 to 8:30pm


In attendance:, Mardi Crane, Karen Lee, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Jenny Murtaugh

Guest: Nick Zaiac

Absent: Mary Ann Carlson, Alexandra Ernst, Garret Siegel

  1. CALL TO ORDER: called to order at 7:04
  2. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING: Mardi moved/Karen seconded/all approved.

3.1 AEC Bylaws & terms: Steph acknowledged the appointment of all current active members (7) to the AEC by the select board as follows:

Steph, Karen, Garret were appointed to 2-year terms; MaryAnn, Alex, Mardi and Jenny for one year.  The difference in term lengths will result in staggered reappointment times, so that not every seat needs to be appointed all at once in a given year.  Steph noted that she has since heard from four different energy committees in the area, all of whom wanted to know if she thought the designation of the AEC as an official committee of the town was beneficial.  She believes it is and looks forward to working closely with the select board and for the town.

3.2  AEC tab on town website: Steph shared her updated list of items; she and Nick will meet next week [Friday, July 22, 9am] to discuss the actual layout and make this a reality.  Nick will add a disclaimer, so that we can include links to other content and sites (including one that some of the AEC members had discussed creating).

3.3  Status report on efficiency efforts for the Town Hall: Nick reported on three projects.

  1. LEDs:  The select board awarded the final portion of the retrofit to Hawthorne Electric for somewhere between $6,000-$7,000.  Nick is going to check with Scott with the Solid Waste Allinace to see if they can help eliminate or reduce the cost of disposing of the old bulbs (currently a $1,000 fee).
    1. Attic Insulation:  He has received 2 bids (Weatherization Works and Farnum Insulators) and is expecting a couple more.  The estimates are coming in substantially higher than what they had budgeted for.  There is an awkward 3’ band/collar of space above the ceiling which complicates the insulation job.  Nick feels it’s very important that this be done well and fully the first time, that settling for some kind of partial insulation would be pointless and would prove to be a false economy.  It should be fully insulated and at an R-value of 60.
    1. Heat Pumps:  Nick has received two estimates so far and they, too, are coming in high and they are vastly different.  He is waiting to find out what the subsidies will be as a result of the passing of H-518. He wonders if it will seek to fund mechanical things like heat pumps more than insulation.

Discussion ensued:  Karen asked if the estimates were within, say, 10% of each other and Nick said they were not.  She wondered if GMP is behind the push to put more money behind electrical units like heat pumps, rather than insulation.

Mardi reminded everyone that the big increase in fuel oil for the town hall (might be triple what we paid a year ago—up to $60,000) will hit taxpayers hard.  Mardi’s question: Is the expense of the heat pumps seen in the context of what the cost will be in the future to use fuel oil?

Karen:  How does the increase in fuel oil costs get handled by the town if it has to pay more than what has been budgeted?

Nick explained that the select board cannot spend more than is budgeted without calling a special town meeting.  The voters must vote on any proposed increase in taxes.  Internal borrowing can only happen with a taxpayer vote.

MOTION:  Karen made a motion that the AEC make a formal recommendation to the select board that—when we move forward with the town hall insulation project this year—we insulate at the highest level of efficiency that is economically feasible. Jenny seconded. Discussion:  all agreed that it must be done fully and completely so that it only has to be done once and done correctly.  All present were in favor; motion approved.

3.4 Continuing work on the town’s Energy/CO2 Emissions Analysis: Karen presented her updated excel spreadsheet and explained the added columns that will need to be populated.  Each category will link to its own page to more fully articulate emissions reductions strategies. She will break out all of the numbers for each strategy.  ACTION:  The committee needs to discuss and identify what the strategies should be—the recommendations.  Each committee member is asked to pick a category for which they could do some research.  Steph, for example, chose Cemeteries and will find out all the equipment used that is fueled by gasoline, identify alternative equipment, and supply costs and savings. She would be happy to work on Rec. Park, too.

Offsets:  There will be a lot of discussion about how the town’s existing assets can be counted.  How many acres of trees does the town own?  Karen will add another column for 2020 to provide the baseline the town is tasked with using.  One category will show the offsets if we simply do nothing and rely upon existing trees.  A second category will show what we can do if we implement measures that lower the town’s carbon footprint.  Karen urged that the town must not use the offsets as a reason for not doing more—even if it turns out that the argument can be made that we are at net zero because of the trees.  The committee and the town need to demonstrate to the citizens of Arlington that we can do better and will do better because we can do better, that there is value in a variety of important ways of going beyond to “negative zero.”  All that we do benefits the future of the children of Arlington.

Nick gave an example: one could keep pouring money into heating the town garage at great expense, while the best thing to do would be to build a new garage with heat pumps and a pellet stove, etc.  Make it a completely efficient building.

Mardi: This is about leadership, for the town of Arlington and by the town of Arlington for other municipalities to emulate. Arlington can be a shining star for others.  There is much to be said for Arlington’s spirit of aspiration.  The analysis and formulas that the committee is putting together—we are willing to do the hard work and to offer this to other municipalities.  Categories could easily be adjusted for  small businesses to use, too.  The Arlington Report—the Arlington way.  It’s about heart.

Karen will send a new, updated spreadsheet.

ACTION: Karen and Mardi will also draft specific questions that need to be answered.  AEC members should pick one or two to work on.  This is how the project can progress and they are available for guidance.  Karen is the point person with whom each member can communicate.  This will keep the work organized and avoid any problems with too many members meeting together on the project outside of public meetings.

            ACTION:  Steph will reach out to Callie to see if the Williams College student, Josh, would like to work with the AEC on the analysis.

            ACTION: To help the committee get a clearer picture of the variables of each town entity, Nick had the great idea that he take the committee on a field trip of the town’s facilities.  This will help the AEC identify options and strategies.  Steph will poll the members to schedule this. 

            ACTION:  Nick will give Karen the information he has on the town’s highway equipment.  Nick also shared the fire department’s capital plan which showed inventory and ages of equipment.  He will share this again with Karen.

Arlington Community Carbon Bank  Mardi introduced the idea that the AEC might want to create a bio chart of our park lands, something that could show the current carbon sequestration they provide–with another column that could show mitigation strategies. If basalt rock were added, for example, and/or clover, the citizens could see those results.  This might also inspire individuals to follow similar practices.  Again, Arlington leading the way.

    • Farmers Market tabling for WindowDressers and weatherization info

The Northshire community build will be in Arlington once again and this time will be held at the American Legion from Oct. 20-27 (actual build days are the 21-26).  The energy committees are raising money through grants to pay for ten of their windows in exchange for the use of their facility.

  1. Arlington Village Farmers Market: Steph is in touch with Jessica Roberts.  There are three dates in August available: 5, 12, and 29.  The 19th is not available.  Steph thinks we should only do two this year and proposes that we do August 5 and 12.  She will send out an email asking folks to volunteer to staff the table (this will include Sunderland energy committee members).
    1. Major problem:  Karen pointed out that there is a staffing logistics problem.  She and Jenny are the only measurers for the Arlington area and they have all the accounts they will be able to fit in (10).  They are concerned (with plans to be out of town) that they will not be able to measure additional accounts and they know that Jim Hand and Carl Bucholt will have their hands full doing the northern towns.  We don’t have enough measurers.  ACTION: Steph will pass this message along to some of the members of the WDBenningtonCounty-wide group, to see what can be done to address this.

MOTION to ADJOURN: Karen motioned; Jenny seconded; all approved:  8:30pm

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, August 3, 7-8:30pm

Minutes by Stephanie.

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