By Neil P. Allen
The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission’s (TRORC) energy work with towns has expanded following town meetings in Norwich and Bradford where voters approved funding to utilize the services of the Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (IREC), Geoff Martin.
The newcomers join the towns of Barnard, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, and Woodstock, who all re-approved budget items to as part of the group. The town of Fairlee participated in the first year, however, it was unable to continue due to budgetary reasons.
The addition of two more towns, however, will not result in a reduction in costs for the towns — in fact, costs will increase slightly.
“The costs for the towns that were signed up in year one will be increasing by 5%. This is because the contribution from towns in year one did not cover the costs of the program,” said Martin. “As a result, I worked on other regional energy projects outside of the IREC group, and TRORC covered a significant portion of the costs of the program,” he continued. “In year two, all of my time will be spent on the IREC program. TRORC will still be covering a portion of my time, but more of my time will be covered by the IREC towns.”
According to TRORC, Martin has been hard at work since he began this effort in August 2020 to develop greenhouse gas emissions inventories, hire a municipal building audit firm, gather baseline information on town operations on energy use, and to generally assist the towns with implementing energy plans.
“The towns want to advance their energy and climate goals and save costs. I hope to help by providing more insight into towns’ energy usage/costs and greenhouse gas emissions; and recommend targeted improvements to town facilities and vehicle fleets to lower energy consumption and emissions,” Martin explained.
“Norwich and Bradford will have the opportunity to work with an energy services company that we identified this past year through a competitive process. This company can provide comprehensive energy retrofits for town buildings. Alternatively, I can provide recommendations for improvements at town facilities based on my experience and facilitate these improvements,” he continued.
Martin doesn’t just work for the towns, he also assists citizens in the member towns.
“I also hope to help towns take advantage of funding from the state and federal levels to increase weatherization and deploy electric vehicles (EV) and EV charging stations. Finally, I can work with towns to deploy solar energy, both for the municipalities and for residents,” he said.