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Weatherize Events in January

Weatherize Round Two kicks off this month across the Upper Valley region.

What is Weatherize? 

Vital Communities partners community volunteer teams with local contractors to help Weatherize participants complete cost-effective home energy improvements. These upgrades save residents money on heating bills, increase comfort, and reduce the amount of energy needed to stay warm throughout the winter.

How can you get involved?

New Hampshire residents living in Orford, Piermont, Lyme, Lebanon, Plainfield, and Cornish and Vermont residents living in Springfield, Chester, Woodstock, Pomfret, and Bridgewater can participate in this round of Weatherize. Visit your state’s Weatherize homepage or sign up here to stay in the loop about all the latest Weatherize events and deadlines.

Each community team will be hosting a launch event later this month. See below to learn more about your community’s upcoming kick-off.

  • Orford-Piermont-Lyme: Saturday, January 27 at the Rivendell Academy in Orford. 2 – 3:30 pm.
  • Lebanon: Monday, January 29 at the Kilton Library. 7 – 8:30 pm.
  • Plainfield-Cornish: Wednesday, January 24 at Plainfield Elementary School. 7 – 8:30 pm.
  • Springfield-Chester: Thursday, January 25 at the Springfield First Congregational Church. 6 – 7:30 pm.
  • Woodstock-Pomfret-Bridgewater: Tuesday, January 30 at Norman Williams Public Library. 6 – 7:30 pm.

What happens at the kick-off events?

The kick-off event is an opportunity to meet your community’s volunteer team, partner contractors, and Vital Communities in a fun and informational setting. You’ll learn about what you can expect from the Weatherize program, chat with neighbors who’ve been through the process before, and get the nitty gritty on costs, benefits, financing, and incentives– all in one place! You don’t want to miss it. Refreshments will be provided and the events are free and open to the public with no registration required.

We’ll see you in January!

Photo credit: Molly Drummond

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Green Real Estate Network Kick Off

​Working together to empower home buyers and sellers throughout the Upper Valley to understand home energy costs and invest in energy efficiency.

Over 50 real estate professionals from across the Upper Valley will gather on January 9 to kick off the new Upper Valley Green Real Estate Network, a project of Vital Communities. Participants include Realtors, lenders, home inspectors, appraisers, real estate lawyers, and home energy professionals.

Five Reasons Buyers Care about Energy

  1. The Upper Valley is home to some of the oldest housing stock in  the nation
  2. Energy is often the second highest cost of home ownership (behind mortgage/taxes/insurance)
  3. $7-12k of air sealing and insulation can reduce energy costs by 15-30% andimprove home comfort
  4. Rebates and special financing programs exist to help residents pay for energy improvements
  5. Cost effective energy efficiency improvements are possible in almost any home

Why Time of Sale?

Energy efficiency upgrades deliver cash savings and home comfort from month one. Waiting to weatherize means leaving cash on the table. Buyers can use the transaction process to gather necessary information for efficiency improvements. For example:

  • Past heating fuel use data needed to qualify for rebate programs
  • Confidence that cost effective energy improvements are possible
  • Ability to secure financing for energy improvements alongside a mortgage

Vital Communities and our partners believe we can do more to promote “Green Real Estate” in the Upper Valley by working together than we can by working in isolation. Stay tuned for more from this inspiring group of local real estate leaders!

Barbara Duncan checks out a Smart Electric Vehicle at the 2014 EV event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

Plug-In to Electric Vehicles at the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo

Plug-In to Electric Vehicles at the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo

Vital Communities, Upper Valley Sierra Club, and volunteers from several Upper Valley energy committees are joining forces to host the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo on Saturday, September 9, from 12 to 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Dothan Brook School in White River Junction, Vt. as part of National Drive Electric Week. The Expo is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register online at UVEVExpo.org for a chance to win $250 and other prizes.

Ariel Arwen with the Upper Valley Sierra Club at the New London Electric Vehicle event. Photo Credit: Allyson Samuell

Ariel Arwen with the Upper Valley Sierra Club. Photo Credit: Allyson Samuell

Electric vehicle owners from across the region will show off their wheels, with several local car, bicycle and motorcycle dealers bringing the latest all-electric models for visitors to explore. Vehicles will include the popular Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt, as well as the Tesla Models X and S, Tesla Roadster, BMW i3, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Fourtwo and others. The Dartmouth Racing Team will also bring their electric race car. Free test rides will be offered throughout the afternoon.

“Our 2016 event in New London had over 300 attendees and dozens of electric vehicles. This year’s event in White River Junction will be even bigger,” said Jamie Hess, a volunteer from New London. “Electric vehicle technology keeps getting better. I’m seeing more and more people making the switch.”

An attendee learns about charging plug-in vehicles. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

An attendee learns about charging plug-in vehicles. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

It’s true. Most new fully electric vehicles can drive more than 100 miles, with some current models going more than 200 miles on one charge. Driving electric is cheaper, too—comparable to paying $1.50/gallon at the pump. Not to mention great acceleration and increased traction thanks to efficient electric engines and heavy batteries.

According to Drive Electric Vermont, the number of electric vehicles in Vermont has increased by 40 percent over the last year alone. That trend is expected to continue in the Upper Valley and across both Vermont and New Hampshire as vehicle ranges increase and more charging stations are installed.

Ted Dillard with electric bike at the event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Karl Kemnitzer

Ted Dillard with electric bike at the event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Karl Kemnitzer

The September 9 Expo will feature more than just cars—electric motorcycles, bicycles and even lawn equipment will also be available for visitors to see, touch and try. Drop-in presentations from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. will cater to both electric-vehicle enthusiasts and those who are new to the technology.

Families are welcome and there will be free refreshments. Event sponsors include Catamount Solar, Cyclewise, Energy Emporium, Green Mountain Power, Lyme Green Heat, Newport Chevy, Nissan of Keene, Norwich Technologies, Omer and Bob’s, ReVision Energy, Solaflect Energy, SunCommon, Twin State Ford, Zoom Bikes, Building Energy and Anne’s Country Store.

Orford Install

Solar Expo in Lebanon 4/1

Solar Installers Expo

Hosted by the Plainfield, Cornish, Lebanon, and Enfield Energy Committees
Saturday, April 1 at 2 pm
Kilton Library at 80 Main Street in West Lebanon

(Contact mary.n.boyle@gmail.com for more information and to RSVP)

Act now before Net Metering Tariffs change
(and PV Solar electricity becomes more expensive)

  • Find out more about PV solar installation options
  • Talk with members from area Energy Committees
  • Have your questions answered by experts from local solar installation companies
  • Sign up for site visits
  • Learn about DIY options

 

Why Weatherize?

Many thanks to our friends at CATV and Emily Gardner for helping our Hartford Weatherize volunteer team film this hilarious video explaining why YOU should participate in Weatherize Upper Valley.

- Randolph Team PictureSince Weatherize Upper Valley kicked off in early January, we’ve seen a surge of interest from residents across all fourteen participating towns. Over 130 people attended our kick off events across the region, and we now have over 280 residents signed up to get involved.

Most of those 280+ participants are now in the process of filling out a Home Energy Profile, which will then be sent to the participating contractor(s) of their choice, who will then provide a free at-home consult and proposed scope of work… FREE OF CHARGE.

It’s not too late to sign up! Learn More at VitalCommunities.org/Weatherize.

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Upgrade with NH Saves

DID YOU KNOW….

Liberty Utilities, and other NHSaves electric utilities, are offering rebates to NH-based Retail and Large Commercial customers who upgrade their old heating systems to a new high efficiency system. The program also offers rebates up to 35% of the project cost for weatherization (air sealing and insulation). NHSaves approved vendors can perform free energy analysis for businesses along with the installation of free energy savings improvements. These free analyses will help identify energy savings opportunities and help you drive down your energy costs. Businesses are welcome to select a contractor of their choice if they choose to complete the recommended improvements. Here is an example of just some of the program offerings:

  • Free: Energy Analysis
  • Free: Low flow spray valves, shower heads, aerators and hot water pipe insulation
  • $1,000 to $10,000 Rebate for high efficient oil or propane boilers
  • 35% Rebate for weatherization projects

All projects are for buildings using propane or oil only and must be pre-approved. Incentives are limited so contact us today. Please use the contact information below for Liberty Utilities’ customers. This program is valid in all NH utility territories (Eversource, Liberty Utilities, NH Electric Co-op, and Unitil).

nhsaves.com/save-work/retrofits

Go Solar in 2016

Guest Post by Bob Walker

Go Solar 2016

Going solar in 2016 make $ense as it typically costs 10% to 14% less than utility power and pays for itself in 7 to 10 years, while the systems are guaranteed to generate power for 25 years. In many cases, good financing can even result in energy savings higher than loan payments, meaning you start saving money from day one. However, the Vermont Public Service Board has just adopted new rules, adjusting the state’s solar “adder” – a financial credit for every kilowatt-hour your system generates – that will reduce solar savings between 1.6% and 53.8%, depending on where your system is located and whether or not you retain the Renewable Energy Credits, beginning in 2017. A full description of the new ruling and how it affects rates can be found in the “Order” and “Attachment” at http://psb.vermont.gov/statutesrulesandguidelines/proposedrules/rule5100.

But the solar adder for anyone installing solar or joining a community array by the end of 2016 will be grandfathered in for 10 years at the more favorable rates in effect when the system was installed. That is, if you go solar this year, you will continue to get the higher value solar credit available under today’s rules, even after the new rules go into effect in 2017. For those whose homes are not well situated for solar or who don’t want the solar panels on or near your home, you can also get the benefits of going solar by joining a community solar array. Most of the solar contractors operating in Vermont still have time to either install a system on your home or get you into one of their community solar arrays before the end of the year. But you need to act soon, as they are getting very busy as the end of the year deadline approaches. You can find a list of contractors installing solar power in Vermont at www.REVermont.org.

So, if you have been considering putting solar on your house or joining a community solar array, do it this year so you can save money and begin relying on local, clean, renewable power.

Bob Walker
Chair, Thetford Energy Committee
Thetford Center, VT

9th Annual Roundtable May 3

The 9th Annual
Upper Valley Energy Committee Roundtable

Porter Community Room
Montshire Museum, Norwich, VT
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 | 5–8 p.m.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
(event is free and includes a buffet dinner)

We look forward to seeing you at our favorite event of the year – a gathering of dozens of local energy volunteers from across the Upper Valley.

If you’ve attended the Roundtable in years past, you know this event is part family reunion, part support group, and part learning session. Come ready to be refreshed and inspired!

This year’s agenda:

​5:00 – Dinner and conversation

5:30 – Welcome and introductions, followed by our longstanding tradition of two-minute updates from each energy committee, along with updates from Vital Communities and other groups who provide support for energy committees year-round.

7:00 – Panel on local energy policy. Many towns are working to implement local energy policy this year, so we’ll be showcasing creative local energy policies related to solar siting, permit review, municipal projects, and more. Stay tuned for details.

8:00 – Clean up and go home

See you in May!

– Your Roundtable Organizing Committee

  • Sarah Simonds and Bob Walker, Vital Communities
  • Leigh Cameron, New England Grassroots Environment Fund
  • Ben Civiletti and Johanna Miller, Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network
  • Mike McCrory, Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission
  • Dan Potter, Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission
  • Chris Sargent and Dee Gish, Two Rivers Ottaquechee Regional Commission
Bob Walker and Sarah Simonds

Big News: SERG Joins Vital Communities

Big news from the Vital Communities Energy Program:
Sustainable Energy Resource Group (SERG) is merging into Vital Communities.

The Sustainable Energy Resounce Group (SERG) is an Upper Valley nonprofit with a strong legacy of local energy action in the Upper Valley. Since its founding in 2002, SERG has pioneered many innovative local energy projects that have since been replicated throughout the Northeast.

After 14 years as an independent nonprofit organization, we are thrilled to announce that SERG has decided to combine forces with Vital Communities’ growing Energy Program. Vital Communities and SERG have been close allies since Vital Communities first began work on energy issues in 2009, collaborating on many projects and working together to support our region’s expanding network of town energy committees. In combining our two programs we are confident we can accomplish more together than we ever could on our own.

Just a few highlights from the long list of SERG accomplishments over the past 14 years:

  • Established the first town energy committees in Vermont and New Hampshire in 2002 (there are now more than 200 across both states)
  • Inspired and helped develop the “Button Up” weatherization workshop series that has been presented dozens of times throughout the Upper Valley
  • Led an effort that tripled the number of weatherized homes in Thetford in one year, and helped launch a Vermont Home Energy Challenge to get other towns to do the same
  • Created an online resource library and e-newsletter to help residents in the Upper Valley improve their energy footprints
  • Organized and hosted dozens of public forums on everything from solar hot water to electric vehicles

Read our summary for more detail about SERG’s work, plus some of our plans for the future.

In the coming year, SERG Founder and Executive Director Bob Walker will work directly with Vital Communities as a consultant and mentor to ensure a strong transition.

We’re seeking partners and supporters in this exciting transition – make a gift today to support Vital Communities in carrying forward SERG’s legacy of inspiring sustainable energy action in the Upper Valley.

The move will be official as of January 1, and we’re planning a big old party in February to celebrate SERG’s accomplishments and kick off our exciting new work together. Stay tuned!

Have questions, comments, or well wishes? Email Sarah@VitalCommunities.com.

 

 

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