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Friday, September 5, 2008
Contact: Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications

Green Mountain College to Host Poultney Community Energy Forum

POULTNEY-- Can the future energy needs of the town of Poultney be met through new wind, solar, or biomass projects? Can comparable energy savings be achieved through home weatherization projects? Might a combination of renewable energy and conservation measures be part of Poultney’s energy future? These are among the questions to be explored in the Poultney Community Energy Forum at Green Mountain College on Thursday, September 25. The event will take place in the East Room of Withey Hall from 7-9 p.m.

The goal of the forum is to generate interest among Poultney community members to form an energy committee. “Many towns across Vermont, and across the country, have recognized the value of community-based initiatives to promote energy independence,” said Dr. Steven Letendre, associate professor of management and environmental studies at Green Mountain College. “While rising energy prices and the reality of a changing climate are global issues, there are numerous steps that individual communities can take to promote energy independence, strengthen their local economy, and make meaningful progress toward reducing greenhouse gases.”

The Poultney Community Energy Forum is a joint effort between the College, the Town of Poultney, the Poultney Chamber of Commerce, and other community organizations to explore local solutions to global energy challenges. The event will feature two Vermont experts on community energy projects: Greg Pahl, author of The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Energy Crisis; and Debra Sachs, director of the Burlington Alliance for Climate Action. Sachs, who has worked on several Vermont community energy initiatives, will discuss what other Vermont communities are doing to address the rising cost of energy.

According to Dr. Letendre, “This new initiative offers another excellent opportunity for collaboration between the College and the community, building off of the successful Poultney ‘Change a Light Challenge,’ which took place in the fall of 2003.” This project, to have every household in Poultney exchange an inefficient light bulb with an efficient compact fluorescent bulb, won the 2004 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Product Campaign Award.

Dr. Letendre and GMC associate professor of geology Dr. John Van Hoesen will also present the results of their summer research project to inventory energy use patterns and local energy resources in Poultney. Dr. Van Hoesen stated, “We are excited to present our work, which includes the use of mapping software to understand how much wind, solar, and biomass might be available to meet energy demand in Poultney.”

Town energy committees throughout Vermont have engaged in a variety of different activities. Several examples of activities include education and outreach to provide residents with information about how they can use energy more efficiently and save money. “Some towns have offered free workshops to residents on home weatherization techniques,” said Letendre. “Studies have shown that increasing the amount of insulation in a home and sealing up doors and windows can reduce energy for home heating by up to one-third. Other Vermont energy committees have focused on making municipal buildings more energy efficient by helping to arrange professional energy audits and plan projects to improve the performance of community-owned facilities. In addition, energy committees can play an important role in updating the energy portion of a town plan.”


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