Total Local Solar Capacity Quadrupled in Two Years!
At the 6th LEAP Energy Fair in April, 2012 CLiF 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. This goal was achieved in 11 months. At the 7th LEAP Energy Fair in April, 2013 LEAP announced the kickoff of the 2nd Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year. The goal was to double local solar yet again, meaning that LEAP was striving to help quadruple local solar capacity within only two years. LEAP members were very active in encouraging local residents, businesses, and leaders to adopt solar by: • Writing periodic articles for the Waterbury Record • Speaking and running ads on WDEV radio • 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. • Hosting an annual LEAP Energy Fair that featured more than a dozen local solar providers and drew more than 600 attendees • Working with the Waterbury Selectboard, Waterbury Trustees, and the Waterbury/Duxbury School District to help them understand the value of solar projects and provide them with support and information to assist them in moving forward on projects. By the time LEAP hosted its 8th LEAP Energy Fair in April 2014 Waterbury and Duxbury had quadrupled total local solar capacity in two years!
8th LEAP Energy Fair
On Saturday, April 15 from 9 AM to 2 PM the 8th LEAP Energy Fair took place at the Crossett Brook Middle School (CBMS) gym in Duxbury, VT. This event featured 75 exhibitors and attracted a record crowd of almost 700 attendees. It is now 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. The Fair was attended by Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders gave the LEAP Green Community Award to seven students on the CBMS E-Waste Recycling Team that gathered more than 8,000 pounds of e-waste at the LEAP Fair and kept those materials out of the waste stream. The Fair was featured in a video by Seven Days ‘Stuck in Vermont’. http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/8th-leap-energy-fair-348/Content?oid=2348862
Walk & Bike to School Day
On May 7 Waterbury in Motion, LEAP’s bike and pedestrian advocacy arm, helped organize a Walk & Bike to School Day. Almost 150 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 2014 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.
Events with US Energy Secretary
Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, visited Vermont in March. On March 14 LEAP participated in a brainstorming and idea-sharing discussion at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) in Burlington. On March 15 a Vermont Sustainable Energy Summit was held at the McCullough Student Center at Middlebury College. LEAP’s Jamie Ervin represented LEAP and all Vermont town energy committees as she spoke on a panel with Secretary Moniz, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Governor Peter Shumlin, Mary Powell (Green Mountain Power CEO), John Byrne (Head of Sustainability for Middlebury College), and Scott Johnstone (CEO of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation). The panel discussed topics such as climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and grassroots organizing for a green energy future.
2nd LEAP Solar Fest – July 22
On July 22 approximately 100 people attended the 2nd LEAP Solar Fest at the Crossett Brook Middle School cafeteria. The free event, hosted by the volunteers of Waterbury LEAP, included live music by Gordon Stone, free pizza, drinks and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and the opportunity for local residents to speak to several local solar installers, to VSECU regarding financing solar, and hear from a number of neighbors who are already using solar power. At the end of the evening one solar installer said she had 12 new leads, and another said he had 8. He commented: “I had more serious conversations this evening in 90 minutes than I’ve had at the past four events I attended this summer combined.”
Providing Support to Other Town Energy Committees
LEAP is contacted periodically by other town energy committees that that are seeking help and guidance on how energy committees are run and how certain energy projects are completed successfully. LEAP is delighted to help because when we began we regularly sought the advice of other, more experienced committees and everyone was generous with their time and ideas. This year LEAP members were asked to share our experience with committees in Hartford, Huntington, and South Burlington.
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.
LEAP Receives 2014 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence
On May 14 at the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility spring conference in Burlington, LEAP was one of the recipients of the 2014 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The award read: “Since 2007 Waterbury LEAP has been a leader in energy conservation and renewable energy projects and educational efforts at the local level. In a recent project, Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Years, has quadrupled solar renewable energy installations in a two-year period.” LEAP board members Jamie Ervin and Duncan McDougall were there to accept the award on LEAP’s behalf.
Crossett Brook Middle School Solar Walk:
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. In 2014 students at CBMS sustainability program led an effort, with some assistance from LEAP, Sun Common, and Wood & Wood Signs, to create a Solar Walk to help people understand the CBMS solar arrays and how they work. Signs are spread outside and inside the school, and the explanations and graphic displays are linked to videos and audio descriptions by CBMS students.
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.
625 kW Village Solar Project on Village Land
In November 2014 a 625 kW solar array was built on Sweet Road in Waterbury Center. The Waterbury Village Trustees signed a lease agreement for the construction of this solar array on roughly four acres of village-owned land. LEAP assisted Village Trustees throughout the process as they considered the potential of hosting a solar array on village land.
Walk & Bike to School Day
On October 15 Waterbury in Motion helped organize a Walk & Bike to School Day. 120 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.
Participation in 2014 VECAN Annual Conference
Each year for the past five 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 6 LEAP’s Duncan McDougall will be a panelist at the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) annual conference in Fairlee, VT. Duncan will give a presentation on the topic “Programs to Increase On-site Residential Solar”.
Semifinalist for $5 Million Georgetown University Energy Prize
Waterbury and Duxbury were selected to advance to the Semifinalist round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The application was submitted by LEAP. We were among the 50 communities across the US who were selected. Each community had assembled a diverse team, developed a strong plan outline, and had secured signed commitments from local officials, utilities, and community representatives. This multi-year, $5 million prize strives to tap the imagination, creativity, and spirit of competition between communities across the country to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations. Through this competition, communities are challenged to work together with their local governments and utilities in order to develop and begin implementing plans for innovative, replicable, scalable and continual reductions in the per capita energy consumed from local natural gas and electric utilities. Participating communities are asked to develop a long-term energy efficiency plan and to demonstrate initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. Communities will be judged in part on their ability to: • Spur innovative approaches for communities to decrease their per-capita energy usage • Highlight best practices for communities working with utilities, businesses, and their local governments to create and implement inventive plans for sustained energy efficiency • Educate the public and engage students in energy efficiency issues including methods, benefits, and the environmental costs of the full fuel cycle • Increase the visibility of Georgetown University and competition sponsors who are working to facilitate new and creative approaches to energy efficiency