Energy Section of the Waterbury Town Plan
In early 2013 the Waterbury Planning Commission approached Waterbury LEAP and asked that its members prepare a first draft of the Energy Section of the Waterbury Town Plan. After researching many other town plans from across Vermont and other states, and considering the plan goals that would be most appropriate and effective for Waterbury, LEAP members prepared the first draft. Much of this original material was included in the final draft that will go before the town voters for their approval. Once approved, this document will serve as the blueprint for the town’s energy goals and activities for the next five years.
Weatherization Open House
On April 4 LEAP partnered with home and business owners Andy and Jerry McMahan of Ripanco Kennels in Duxbury for a weatherization open house event. The McMahan’s opened their home to show the efficiency improvements that they had made over the previous year. Representatives from Building Energy described what an energy audit involves and described the work that they performed to improve energy efficiency in the McMahan’s home and business. Waterbury LEAP presented information on the most frequently identified home improvements in an energy audit, their costs, and options for financing.
1st Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year! Goal Achieved in 11 Months!
At the 6th LEAP Energy Fair in April, 2012 LEAP announced the kickoff of the Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year. The goal of this ambitious initiative was to double local solar capacity in those two towns within twelve months. LEAP members were very active in encouraging local residents to adopt solar by:
• Writing periodic articles for the Waterbury Record
• Speaking and running ads on WDEV radio
• Holding the 1st LEAP Solar Fest, an event that featured live music, free pizza and ice cream, five solar installers, and drew 110 people
• Hosting a Business Solar Workshop where local business owners met solar installers and a tax expert, and heard from other owners who have already experienced the benefits of going solar
• Distributing information on our website, in our brochures, at the Farmer’s Market, Town Meeting, and other events regarding local solar providers and their services.
The ambitious goal of the 1st Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year was accomplished in only 11 months, by March, 2013.
Governor Peter Shumlin Celebrates 1st Solar Year
On March 11 Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Chris Reccia, Commissioner of the Public Service Department, celebrated the successful completion of the 1st Waterbury Duxbury Solar Year. A special press conference was held at the home of Reverend Peter Plagge and his wife Erin Mooney in Waterbury, one of dozens of families who had adopted solar power for their homes over the past year.
7th LEAP Energy Fair
On Saturday, April 13 from 9 AM to 2 PM the 7th LEAP Energy Fair took place at the Crossett Brook Middle School (CBMS) gym in Duxbury, VT. This event featured 72 exhibitors and attracted more than 500 attendees. It is one of the largest such events in Vermont. The fair was free and offered attendees the opportunity to tour displays and talk with dozens of experts about solar power, pellet stoves, geothermal, biomass, green building, carpooling, home energy audits, and many other topics. Dozens of people enjoyed informative breakout sessions, and the LEAP Energy Fair was attended by Governor Peter Shumlin who gave the LEAP Green Community Award to the Harwood Energy Squad for their efforts to reduce Harwood Union High School’s electric usage by 10% in one year.
2nd Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year
On April 13 at the 7th LEAP Energy Fair we announced the kickoff of the 2nd Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year. The goal of this initiative is to double total solar capacity in those two towns for the second time in two years. If we achieve this ambitious goal, we will have quadrupled local installed solar capacity in only two years. (See below to read about some of the efforts involved in this campaign.)
Vermont Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission
Waterbury LEAP met several times with the coordinator of the Vermont Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, describing the successes and challenges of siting renewable energy in Waterbury and Duxbury. LEAP members also participated in a Vermont state hearing on the issue of renewable energy siting.
Walk & Bike to School Day
On May 1 Waterbury in Motion helped organize a Walk & Bike to School Day. More than 100 children and adults gathered at Rusty Parker Park at 7 AM for a breakfast provided by Waterbury in Motion, and then bikers and walkers proceeded in groups to Thatcher Brook Primary School and Crossett Brook Middle School. This is one of the regular events Waterbury in Motion holds to help encourage a biking and walking culture in Waterbury and Duxbury.
Hosting Meetings to Help Stimulate Statewide Solar Advances
During 2012 LEAP hosted breakfast discussions and other meetings with leaders of local and statewide businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations. The goal of these meetings was to brainstorm ideas and discuss pathways to increase the adoption of solar in Waterbury and across Vermont, and to identify and clarify possible legislative priorities and innovative approaches that could be supported and advanced.
Clean Energy Finance Summit
On June 17 the Offices of Senator Sanders and Governor Shumlin, and the Energy Action Network hosted a Clean Energy Finance Summit. The Summit was an invitational, working session conference, designed to advance specific energy finance tools toward implementation through development of strategies for action and alignment of key stakeholders. LEAP was asked to give a presentation about its local solar work and its recommendations for changes to statewide solar policies.
Sharing lessons with other Town Energy Committees
In mid-2013, Waterbury LEAP participated in a statewide discussion on renewable energy as part of an event sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders. Waterbury LEAP hosted a display, showcasing many of the 100+ solar installations in Waterbury and Duxbury. In November, Waterbury LEAP met with the Montpelier Energy Action Team to discuss lessons learned in conducting a solar year, and in supporting the solar efforts of municipalities and schools.
Solar for Scholars
LEAP launched a “Solar for Scholars” initiative in collaboration with local solar installers. The concept is that for every solar installation constructed in Waterbury and Duxbury by a participating installer over the next year, that company will make a small contribution toward Crossett Brook Middle School’s sustainability program. In particular, these funds will be used to create a new greenhouse and acquire supplies to help students learn about energy involved in food production. Waterbury LEAP will match each contribution, up to $2000. Our goal is to raise $10,000 from September 10, 2013 to September 10, 2014 from LEAP and all participating solar installers so the greenhouse can be built and students can start to raise their own food using the power of the sun.
Village, Town, and School Solar Projects
In order to achieve the ambitious goal of the 2nd Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year LEAP realized we needed to help bring to fruition some large local projects. Consequently, we conducted a survey of potential locations for solar installations of 50kW or greater. With this information in hand, LEAP members gave a series of presentations to the Waterbury Selectboard, the Waterbury Village Trustees, and the Waterbury/Duxbury School Board regarding the economics of solar installations, and some of the new financial models available to towns and school districts when undertaking such projects. LEAP member Lincoln Pierce also provided Sketchup designs of how particular solar installations might look in some of the potential locations.
The following are three projects that have been initiated or completed since those initial meetings with various town leaders took place:
157 kW Crossett Brook Middle School Project Completed
In mid-2013 the Waterbury/Duxbury School Board signed a lease agreement to have a 157kW solar array built on a hillside beside the Crossett Brook Middle School. Construction of this array was completed in December 2013 and Governor Peter Shumlin attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on December 12.
Crossett Brook Middle School now has more solar capacity than any other school in Vermont! The 14.8 kW solar array on the school roof (a project which LEAP completed in 2010) and the 157 kW solar array on the hillside now generate the equivalent of roughly one-third of the school’s electrical needs.
32.4 kW Solar Project on the Waterbury Fire Station
The Waterbury Select Board signed a lease agreement for the construction of a 32.4 kW solar array on the roof of the Waterbury Fire Station. That project began operation in December 2013.
500 kW Village Solar Project Planned
In late 2013 the Waterbury Village Trustees signed a lease agreement for the construction of a 500kW solar array on roughly four acres of village-owned land on Sweet Road in Waterbury Center. Construction on this array is scheduled to begin by spring of 2014.
LEAP Receives Jim Grundy Award from Renewable Energy Vermont (REV)
On October 29 Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) held its 2013 annual conference in Burlington. During the conference REV executive director Gabrielle Stebbins awarded Duncan McDougall and Waterbury LEAP the Jim Grundy Renewable Energy Award which is given annually “for the integrity, generosity of spirit, and ingenuity in the advancement of renewables.” LEAP board members Duncan McDougall and Jamie Ervin were there to accept the award on LEAP’s behalf.
Button Up Weatherization Event
On November 21 LEAP hosted a free Button Up home weatherization workshop in Waterbury. David Giuliani of Energy Smart Vermont spoke about ways most homes lose energy, steps you can take to tighten up your house, what’s involved in an energy audit, and loans and incentives to help you get the work done. LEAP provided pizza, snacks and drinks. Most attendees stayed long after the event was over to talk with David about their particular weatherization questions. After the meeting took place some other people contacted LEAP to get further info about audits and weatherization.
Ice Center Lighting Project and Power Purchase Agreement
In 2012, LEAP received a grant to assist local non-profits with increasing their lighting efficiency. In late 2012 Waterbury LEAP supported the replacement of outdoor lighting at the Ice Center of Waterbury, VT, a non-profit organization, with more efficient lighting. Waterbury LEAP also initiated discussions with the director of the Ice Center, resulting in a signed power purchase agreement for 350kw with a local solar investor, to be executed early in 2014.
Participation in 2013 VECAN Annual Conference
Each year for the past four years, Waterbury LEAP has been asked by VECAN (Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network) to present information on its approaches and success at the annual VECAN conference, the only statewide meeting of all energy committees and other renewable energy advocates. On December 7 LEAP’s Duncan McDougall was a panelist at the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) annual conference in Fairlee, VT. Duncan gave a presentation on the topic “Community Solar Success Stories and Strategies: The Local-Led Perspective”.
Ribbon Cutting for 157 kW Crossett Brook Middle School Solar Array
On December 12 a special ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Crossett Brook Middle School to celebrate the new array and the fact that CBMS now has more solar capacity than any school in Vermont. The speakers at the event included Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, CBMS Principal Tom Drake, Waterbury LEAP Director Jamie Ervin, Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell, Green Lantern Managing Partner Luke Shullenberger, and SunCommon Co-President James Moore.