On Monday, Nov. 25 at 7:45 pm, the Thetford selectboard will discuss whether to join neighboring towns in funding a regional energy coordinator. Your support is essential to the success of this proposal. If you can't attend the meeting, please email the Selectboard and ask them to add it to the 2020 Town budget so it can be voted on at Town Meeting Day. It can be as short as "I support the Regional Energy Coordinator proposal. Please add it to the 2020 Town budget."
Here's some deeper background from Li Shen.
Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan requires the state to have a 90 percent renewable energy portfolio and an 80-95 percent reduction from 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 2050. However the legislature has failed to pass any regulations to make this happen - the responsibility has largely fallen to towns.
There are myriad ways in which towns could achieve greater energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions, but their staff and volunteers are usually at capacity and hiring new staff to tackle energy solutions can be cost prohibitive. A pilot project is therefore proposed in which a small number of towns share resources to meet local, regional, and state energy goals more effectively.
It is proposed that TRORC (our Regional Planning Commission) administer a service contract between a small number of towns. This contract shall include a full-time (37.5hours/week) staff position, and the job title shall be Regional Energy Coordinator (“REC”).
In this draft, it is proposed that the contract include the towns of Barnard, Norwich, Pomfret, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, and Woodstock. (Due to an enormous amount of work by Nick Clark, most of these towns have either committed funds or agreed to make this a warned article at Town Meeting.)
Participating towns would pay TRORC a service fee to cover the staff position and other associated costs – each service fee would be proportional to the town’s population relative to the total population of all participating towns. (Last I heard, Thetford’s share could be as low as $14,000 for a position whose total cost, including benefits and TRORC indirect costs, would be $159,000.)
What would the Regional Energy Coordinator do?
The REC would work with municipal governments, schools, and other organizations with a public mission (such as non-municipal fire departments, libraries, etc.).
The REC would not have the same limitations as a municipal employee, and would be free to work with schools, businesses, residents, etc. of the participating towns. He or she might:
Serve as the point of contact on achieving energy efficiencies and conservation by providing guidance on improvements to facilities, equipment, product purchasing, vehicle use, and daily operations
Solicit, review, and negotiate bids, contracts, and price quotes
Oversee consultants and contractors for energy conservation projects, and installation of renewable energy projects
Provide primary staff support to municipal Energy Committees and Commissions, including meetings, implementation of work programs, and guidance on local, regional, and state programs, policies, and procedures
Coordinate energy projects on a local and regional level, provide guidance and keep projects moving towards completion
Develop and implement medium- and long-term energy plans
Develop and monitor annual energy program budgets
Identify and secure outside public and private funding
Conduct comprehensive greenhouse gas inventories
Develop and build on existing education and outreach to expand renewable energy and conservation by residents, businesses and other private organizations
Review applications submitted to Zoning Boards for energy conservation opportunities
Implement and update the energy section of Town Plans
Implement and update the energy section of Town websites
Develop and present reports to participating towns’ selectboards This list was adapted from Hartford’s Energy Coordinator job description.
Mike Kiess, chair of the energy committee, will be there to explain in more detail the potential value of this position for anyone who wants to learn more. Please show up and support this proposal! Thank you.