Promoting Efficiency and Renewables in a Vermont town

By Paul Cameron, Executive Director, Brattleboro Climate Protection

Brattleboro Climate Protection (BCP) is a nonprofit organization that works to develop effective local solutions to global climate change. BCP collaborates with municipal officials, community and state organizations, businesses and volunteers to carry out projects that promote energy efficiency and expanded use of renewable energy sources while reducing carbon emissions.

The purpose of this project was to expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce the use of fossil fuels for heating and electricity in the Brattleboro, VT area, while reducing the Town of Brattleboro’s electricity consumption.

BCP wanted  to create an online Renewable Energy Gallery that would list photos and information about local renewable energy installations that would hopefully inspire others to install their own systems. Clean Air-Cool Planet staff put us in touch with Denise Blaha, the creator of Green Homes Tourist, an existing website that lists New Hampshire homes. Denise generously agreed to have Vermont homes listed on the site, and we put together eight  profiles of local homes.

BCP worked with the Brattleboro Energy Committee to promote the establishment of a solar electric installation that would supply at least a portion of the electrical demand of municipal buildings and operations. The committee met with local solar contractors to evaluate potential sites for a project, and with financing entities to discuss funding and incentives. We identified a potential site at an industrial building  used as a small business incubator by a local nonprofit. The nonprofit board agreed to allow a project on the site, if the electricity was sold to a building tenant.

The committee is continuing to meet with solar contractors and potential site hosts with the hopes of jump-starting a project this year.

BCP organized a fourth annual solar workshop in collaboration with Co-op Power, Inc. that provided information about solar hot water and photovoltaic systems to homeowners, landlords, and businesses, along with available incentives. Workshop participants had the opportunity to meet with representatives from local solar installers. The workshop attracted more than 40 participants, and received good reviews from attendees.

BCP worked with the Brattleboro Energy Committee and the Brattleboro Public Works Department to begin the process of evaluating the Town of Brattleboro’s streetlights to determine whether lights can be eliminated, reduced in wattage, or converted to light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures, which consume far less electricity. Energy committee members performed a walk-through survey of streetlights in several neighborhoods, visited a Vermont town that has converted to LED lights, and created a streetlight zone map, along with a plan for conducting an inventory, beginning with test neighborhoods in each lighting zone. The plan awaits approval by the Town Manager and Selectboard.

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