VECAN Conference 2012

Annual Conference 2012


Workshops Session A


Workshops Session B

Workshops Session A

A1. Fostering Dialogue– and Better Outcomes– for Wind in Vermont. The conversation around wind power in Vermont is at times divisive. While many believe that wind has a role in the state’s energy mix, how and where it’s developed matters. This workshop focused on wind education, what’s happened to date and opportunities for stakeholder input and participation in the newly formed Governor’s Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission.

Anne Margolis, Vermont Public Service Department
Josh Bagnato, First Wind
Richard Pion, Lowell Selectboard Member

A2. Community Initiatives to Support a Transition to Biofuels. This workshop highlighted several creative community programs and innovative efforts to encourage residential heating with chunk wood, wood pellets and biodiesel. Presenters focused on strategies and avenues people can pursue to move from using fossil fuels to bio-fuels (wood, grass or plant oils) to heat their homes.

Warren King, Ripton Energy Coordinator
Lynn Benander, President, Co­op Power and Northeast Biodiesel
Tom Tailer, Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative

A3. Vermont’s Thermal Efficiency Task Force: the Outcomes and the Opportunities. Vermont is falling far short of meeting its thermal energy efficiency goals. To try to solve this, the Vermont Public Service Department convened a “Thermal Efficiency Task Force” comprised of diverse stakeholders. This workshop presented the results to date of the TETF’s work, its key findings and how the results can inform and support thermal efficiency success — with your help!

Kelly Launder, Vermont Public Service Department
Richard Faesy, Energy Futures Group
George Twigg, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

A4. 90% Renewable by 2050: Scenarios and Strategies to Meet Vermont’s Goal. The state has set an ambitious goal of meeting 90 percent of the state’s energy needs in 2050 through renewables. Getting there will require bold action, grassroots leadership and difficult decisions. But, it’s possible! This workshop outlined some potential scenarios (statewide and regionally) for meeting that ambitious goal and highlighted some strategies clean energy innovators — like Germany — are taking.

Leigh Seddon, Energy Action Network
Deb Sachs, EcoStrategies, LLC
Bob Walker, Sustainable Energy Resource Group

A5. Opportunities to Reduce Municipal and School Energy Costs. Municipalities can reduce energy costs by implementing a range of efficiency energy measures. It is critical that municipalities lead by example and demonstrate to community members the benefits of efficiency improvements. This workshop provided a step-by-step process for systematically reducing energy costs in municipal buildings, streetlights, treatment plants and vehicle fleets.

Paul Markowitz, Efficiency Vermont
Mike Ghia, Rockingham Conservation Commission
Evan Pilachowski, City of Rutland Public Works Commissioner

A6. Community-Based Social Marketing: a Tool for Motivating Action. Community-based social marketing (CBSM) blends the lessons of behavioral science and the value of community networks to encourage people to take action related to something of social value. This workshop provided a step-by-step process for overcoming the barriers that limit the reach of traditional marketing and educational campaigns and provided a pathway of effectively getting residents to invest in efficiency and renewable energy.

Paul Zabriskie, Central Vermont Community Action Council
Chris Granda, Grasteu Associates
Aaron Brown, Vital Communities

A7. Electric Vehicles in Vermont: their Challenges, Promise and Role. Electric vehicles are going to play an increasingly important role in weaning our auto-addicted society off of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. This workshop focused on what’s happening in the EV world, the opportunities and benefits for Vermont and what the potential challenges and consequences might be.

Karen Glitman, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Karin McNeill, Vermont Public Service Department
Gina Campoli, Vermont Agency of Transportation
Henry “Tofer” Sharp, Electric Vehicle Owner


R1. Wind in Vermont: Moving Beyond Controversy to Community-Supported Solutions. With no tradition of community-owned large wind development projects, and confronted with the problem of global climate change and the need to displace fossil fuels with cleaner sources, what is the role of wind in Vermont’s energy future? This roundtable examined how energy committees and other interested Vermonters connect to wind energy development, identified the points of vision to lead Vermont to a more secure energy future, and considered ways to support wind as a source in Vermont’s clean energy portfolio.

R2. Town Energy Committee Roundtable: Great Projects, Stumbling Blocks and Solutions. Town energy committees are providing the heart, soul and motivation for energy action at the local level — and beyond. This roundtable focused on what fellow energy committee leaders are doing through shared strategies, stories, solutions and more.

R3. Shaping and Advancing State Energy and Climate Legislation. All hands on deck are needed to meet Vermont’s necessarily ambitious clean energy goals. In Vermont, there is a unique opportunity to align grassroots goals with supporting state policy. This roundtable seized the opportunity in a far-ranging brainstorm to build an effective energy and climate movement.

R4. Engaging Youth in Local Energy Actions. Young people are a critical but often-neglected part of the dialogue related to our transition to an alternative energy future. This roundtable focused on how energy committees are getting young people involved in local energy projects and about some tips for effectively working with youth…from young leaders themselves.

R5. It’s Here: Harnessing the Potential of the Smart Grid. Smart grid has been and will continue to roll out across the state. Now that it’s here, how can community leaders help influence its ability to serve as a powerful, technological tool? This roundtable focused on how the Smart Grid could help homeowners save energy and realign our energy infrastructure in the state.

R6. E-Vehicle Demonstration. This roundtable offered an opportunity to check out an assortment of electric vehicles at this Electric Vehicle (EV) Demonstration & Exhibit. Attendees were able to view and test drive select electric vehicle models and experience the future of transportation!

Afternoon Keynote

Chris Martenson, PhD (Duke), MBA (Cornell) is an economic researcher and futurist specializing in energy and resource depletion. As one of the early economic bloggers who forecasted the housing market collapse and stock market correction years in advance, Chris rose to prominence with the launch of his seminal video seminar: “The Crash Course” which has also recently been published in book form (Wiley, March 2011). It’s a popular and extremely well-regarded distillation of the interconnected forces in the Economy, Energy and the Environment (the “Three Es” as Chris calls them) that are shaping the future, one that will be defined by increasing challenges to growth as we have known it. In addition to the analysis and commentary he writes for his site, Chris’ insights are in high demand by the media as well as civic and private organizations around the world, including institutions such as the UN, the UK House of Commons and U.S. State Congresses.

See Dr. Martenson’s full Keynote presentation at VNRC’s Youtube channel.

Workshops Session B

B1. Successfully Implementing the PACE Financing Program in Your Community. This workshop updated communities that have passed PACE and are ready to implement it on new resources available to help homeowners. The resources help determine PACE eligibility and if the program makes sense for individual homeowners. It reviewed materials and strategies to help energy committees promote PACE and make it a true success.

Carol Weston and Lani Malapan, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Becky Wigg, Montpelier Energy Action Committee
Mike Kiess, Thetford Energy Committee

B2. Community-Scale Solar. A great deal of work has been undertaken in Vermont to explore and implement community solar projects. This workshop focused on how individuals and communities in Vermont who want to go solar, but can’t (because they don’t have a good site), now can. Attendees heard success stories and learned about new models to help your friends, neighbors, municipality or individuals go solar.

Greg Pahl, Acorn Energy Solar One
Chad Farrell, Encore Redevelopment
Jeff Forward, Richmond Climate Action Committee

B3. Promoting Home Energy Efficiency through Effective Communications, Community Campaigns and a Statewide Challenge. This workshop focused on learning about the results of new market research on what motivates Vermonters to improve efficiency in their homes and on how groups can participate in the upcoming Vermont Home Energy Challenge – a campaign designed to encourage neighbors and friends to make whole-home weatherization and efficiency investments. Attendees learned about turnkey community programs that groups can implement, as well as insights on how to pitch energy efficiency to fellow residents.

Paul Markowitz, Efficiency Vermont
Laura Asermily, Middlebury Energy Committee

B4. State Policy: a Look at the Coming Year’s Legislative Landscape. This workshop provided an overview of what’s likely coming up in the 2013 Legislative Session, including what might happen on thermal efficiency investments, the Clean Energy Development Fund and more.

Chris Recchia, Incoming Vermont Public Service Department Commissioner
Ginny Lyons, Vermont State Senator
Johanna Miller, Vermont Natural Resources Council

B5. Hydro in Vermont: It’s Promise and Challenges. How can communities and individuals help advance hydro? Attendees learned about small and micro-hydro for municipal, business, farm and residential applications including low-cost, affordable solutions. Attendees heard inspiring success stories, including how a family dairy farm is now using new technology to produce low-cost, renewable energy. Furthermore, attendees learned how individuals can help address regulatory barriers to bring hydro to the home or community.

James Perkins, Little Green Hydro
Fred Dunnington, Middlebury Town Planner

B6. Starting, Strengthening and Sustaining Town Energy Committees through Local Energy Projects. Vermont’s town energy committees are implementing inspiring, essential clean energy solutions at the local level. Attendees learned about some of the most powerful work of Vermont’s energy committees; heard about successful programs across the Northeast; and learned tips for starting, strengthening and sustaining energy committees.

Marc Companion, South Burlington Energy Committee
Julia Dundorf, New England Grassroots Environment Fund
Debra Sachs, Community Climate Action

B7. Transportation Solutions that Drive Down Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Transportation remains the biggest greenhouse gas emitter in Vermont, challenging communities and decision-makers across the state. This session offered several ‘ready-to-roll’ strategies to encourage and promote high occupant vehicles, reduce vehicle miles traveled and otherwise save energy.

Richard Ritter, Founder of Vermont Green Driving School
Ross MacDonald, Vermont Agency of Transportation
Tom McGrath, University of Vermont Transportation Research Center


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