BRATTLEBORO — The town Energy Committee is fine-tuning a plan for making good on the Paris Climate Accord despite the commander-in-chief’s desires.
“Many of us in Brattleboro and across the country felt shocked and outraged when President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord,” said Phoebe Gooding, town energy coordinator, reading a statement from the committee. “Since then, a number of state and national organizations have announced alternative climate resolutions for environmentally minded municipalities to sign on to. The Energy Committee will be recommending that Brattleboro join one or more of these initiatives.”
On Tuesday, Energy Committee Chairman Michael Bosworth told the Select Board his group would be returning next month with a more specific proposal that would touch on actions the town could take and a program thought up by committee member Tad Montgomery to offer incentives to downtown building owners to make energy-conscious updates.
“Can you get us the language soon than later?” Select Board Chairwoman Kate O’Connor asked. “If we could get that to digest what you’re asking us to do, that would be much appreciated.”
The committee is going to vote on the proposal at its Aug. 28 meeting. Bosworth said the board would get the plan on the Wednesday of that week.
A draft document about the Downtown Brattleboro Building Energy Program describes it as “a highly publicized, focused, limited time initiative to encourage and support businesses, residents and organizations… to undertake comprehensive energy audits, implement energy conservation measures and install renewable energy systems.”
“So that’s a lot, and we need to put the funding together to make this happen,” Bosworth said. “We’ve talked to an awful lot of organizations who could be potential partners and provide in-kind support.”
The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development and Efficiency Vermont are interested, according to Bosworth. The latter group has similar programs underway but this would expand upon those efforts, committee members said.
Business and property owners would benefit from both energy and cost savings, Bosworth told the board.
“Part of why we’re presenting these two together is getting the town to sign onto the equivalent of the Paris Climate Accord and then also presenting a mechanism by which the town can achieve the goals established in the Paris accord, which is 26 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas production by 2025,” Montgomery said. “So that’s a pretty substantial goal and this is a very specific mechanism to achieve it.”
Board member Tim Wessel said he will want to know whether taxpayer money will be requested. Bosworth anticipates that grants would largely fund the program.
“Part of the proposal would be how are we going to staff this?” Bosworth said. “We are, in a way, projecting using some time of existing staff members if we wanted help to apply for a grant.”
Board member John Allen asked whether the program would be mandating any work for property owners. Montgomery said he does not think the committee has that kind of authority.
“You’ll have to ask President Trump,” said board member David Schoales.
Montgomery added, “We only have carrots, not sticks.”
O’Connor warned against “demonizing” those who cannot participate, after mentioning the extra assessment downtown property owners annually pay to the downtown organization, Downtown Brattleboro Alliance.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.
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