Energy Committee Minutes, 02.20.2023

Energy Committee Meeting Notes
6:00 pm Monday, February 20, 2023

Call to order: 6:06pm

Energy Committee Members Present: Nancy, Chris, Jen, Anne, Gary, Anne, Jen

Recognition of Public: none

Old Business:

  • E-Bike Grant
    The Selectboard approved the project and opened the door to receive grant monies after concerns over impact to Town’s liability insurance were noted to be minimal, and part of the grant funding over the first two years of the program. Total 2-year project costs are just over $2,900, which is the full grant award, so no cost to the Town. There was a small contingent of the Guilford public who oppose the project, but no rationale was offered as to the negative impacts to the Guilford community.

    The project budget developed by Chris includes an estimated cost for storage. If Recreation Club provides storage, the budget could be expanded over a longer period without an increase in the current budget. Other items included are nominal increase in Town’s liability insurance, and the purchase of helmets and safety vests. 

    We discussed that we’ll need to purchase bike locks, but headlamps are currently not anticipated to be necessary as bike usage will most likely be during daylight hours.

    Next Steps:
    Chris will reach out to the Rec Club to see if they can store the bikes. He’ll also see if the Club can take over the permanent ownership of the program, which would be a logical next step while demonstrating a great example of community collaboration.

    Not sure if grant providers will require an ongoing accounting of the use of the grant funds, but consensus in the Committee is it would be a good idea to provide proactive project updates to the Town and the grantor organization.

    The Committee agreed that purchasing (2) two step-thru bike models will be of the most utility to the diverse Guilford community.

New Business:

  • MERP (Municipal Energy Resilience Program) 
    This is a Vermont state grant program that is just ramping up in early 2023 and has for separate grant categories. 
    1. Municipal Building Audits: This is the most nearterm component of grant funding that we’ll need to focus on in the coming months.  We determined that the Library is the only and best Town-owned building that could benefit from this program. The goal for the Committee is to receive approval from the Selectboard to apply for the grant to support the Town Library. If approved, the audit could serve as a transition project to reducing the Library’s use of fossil fuels. The final audit could also be instrumental in the future Library project to receive additional funds from Efficiency Vermont to support building improvements. This audit would serve as a “baseline” for current energy usage, which Efficiency Vermont requires in order to verify energy savings due to future upgrades.  Applications for this grant category will become available in early March.
    2. Community Capacity Building – This category supports the increase of the Town’s ability to support a wide range of energy efficiency activities.  Including but not limited to: hiring grant writers, organizing and convening public meetings to discuss energy efficiency efforts and opportunities, etc.
    3. Building Renovation Projects – This supports projects targeted specifical at upgrading buildings to reduce the usage of fossil fuels. Grant amounts up to $500, 000 will become available, but this component won’t become available for at least 2-years. Discussion focused on the potential for this grant to support the Library project, in particular components that are focused on energy efficiency. This could ideally help offset the direct costs to Town.
    4. MERP Fund Prioritization – The grants under this category are a set aside for Vermont towns that are shown to have the highest energy burden. Due to recent influx of wealthy residents to Guilford, we’re considered less energy burdened, on a townwide basis, than many other Vermont towns.  This component of the grant program will evolve over the next few years, so details will clarify over time.

The opportunity for applying for the Library audit grant funds should be brought to the Selectboard ASAP for their approval.

Jenn will be the front end liaison with the MERP process (grantors) until she leaves in May/June.

  • Efficiency Vermont (EVT) grant application 

This grant provides support for Vermont communities who have been involved, or will be involved, with the Window Dressers’ program. Nancy applied for $4,000 in funds to support window inserts for low-income Guilford residents. EVT acknowledged receipt of Nancy’s application and it is pending review and approval.

  • Guilford Free University – March 11th, 2023

This is a partial day event (12:30 to 6:00, with a 6:00-8:00 potluck and social time)

Jenn submitted our desire to sign up for a booth for the full event, and we received approval.

We’ll have various educational materials and demonstration items (science-fair type demonstrations). Included in our goals to have a light bulb and metering demonstration showing the difference in energy usage between incandescent/CFL and LED light bulbs; a solar PV demonstration module; a Window Dressers mock and a facts/figures display showing the positive impact of the Window Dressers program to date for Guilford.

Other additions to the Energy Committee’s booth may be added, with a focus on attracting the younger crowd of Guilford citizens.

Schedule Next Meeting: Thursday March 16th, 2023

Close of Meeting: Meeting adjourned at 7:01 pm.