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Montpelier announces a renewable energy future

11 March 2014

Montpelier, VT… City officials today joined with energy leaders to launch a major initiative focused on making Montpelier the first net zero capital city in the country.  Achieving net zero means that Montpelier would meet all its power needs through renewable energy sources and efficiency by 2030. The City of Montpelier was joined by a coalition of organizations that are committed to making this goal a reality.

 “This ambitious goal, endorsed by the city council, sets a new direction for Montpelier’s energy future that will provide the opportunity for every citizen to engage,” said Montpelier Mayor John Hollar.

Montpelier is uniquely positioned to move forward on the net zero by 2030 goal. More than 15% of Montpelier housing units have already completed comprehensive energy efficiency projects with Efficiency Vermont; in 2013, the city upgraded all streetlights to high efficiency LEDs; and the downtown biomass district heating project is currently nearing completion.

The Energy Action Network and Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee have worked closely with the city to set the net zero goal and bring together the group of stakeholders to map out a plan of action. “Montpelier’s commitment to creating a secure and affordable energy future is tremendously exciting,” said Andrea Colnes, executive director of the Energy Action Network. “Through this project Montpelier and Vermont will again lead by example and inspire other cities across the US to reach for a bright future and shift to clean, renewable energy.”

Dan Jones, Chair of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee, describes this project as “a unique approach for a city as a whole.  By engaging the city government, businesses, and citizens around a common vision, we hope to change the conversation from piecemeal small reforms to a system-wide reimagining of our energy priorities.  This project will require the collaboration of all Montpelier’s sectors to make it a reality.”

As part of today’s launch, Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont announced a suite of initiatives designed to support the effort by driving down energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy in Montpelier. These include:

* Green Mountain Power will work with the city to locate multiple electric vehicle charging stations in the City;
* Efficiency Vermont will convene a “Net Zero Montpelier” community conversation in September to help residents, businesses, and local partners set goals and take action on energy efficiency. Reducing energy consumption is a key first step towards net zero, since it enables a larger portion of energy needs to be met through renewable sources;
* Efficiency Vermont experts will offer guidance, incentives, and support to help homeowners reduce their energy usage and make their homes “net zero ready;”
* Green Mountain Power will extend to Montpelier its pilot heat pump program that saves customers money while reducing fossil fuel use for heating;
* Efficiency Vermont and the City of Montpelier will develop an energy road map for all municipal facilities, including exploring the opportunity to design the new downtown transit center to net zero standards, and kicking off a large scale energy saving project at the wastewater treatment facility;
* The Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services will collaborate with Efficiency Vermont on a large scale effort to reduce energy usage in Montpelier’s state buildings;
* GMP will work with AllEarth Renewables to install solar trackers in a group net metering project involving the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Land Trust, who have expressed interest in taking the power. The trackers will be on GMP property near the entrance of the city and will be a visual statement of Montpelier’s commitment to becoming net zero.
“This initiative signals a transformation in how Vermont’s cities and towns will use energy,” said Mary Powell, president and chief executive officer of Green Mountain Power. “Deploying new technologies in our cities and towns, as we are also doing in Rutland, will have economic and environmental benefits for all Vermonters. It makes perfect sense that Vermont would be the state where we can successfully make our capital net zero.”

“We are looking forward to helping turn the vision of Net Zero Montpelier into a reality,” said Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont. “In driving progress toward the net zero goal, Efficiency Vermont experts will engage with partners and community members at every level to help them get the most value for their energy dollars, and set the stage for a clean energy future.”

Other partners in Net Zero Montpelier have so far included: Vermont State Employees Credit Union, National Life, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, SunCommon, IBM and the general membership of the Energy Action Network.  As Net Zero Montpelier continues to engage the community, there will be numerous opportunities for additional organizations and stakeholders become actively involved in the effort.

For more information on Net Zero Montpelier, or to get involved, please visit www.eanvt.org/net-zero-montpelier. To learn more about GMP’s heat pump pilot project, email heatpump@greenmountainpower.com.