Sustainable Williston helps residents Button Up

This year, Sustainable Williston is a Button Up Vermont community partner. This means that Williston is one of 18 Vermont towns whose residents are eligible for a free home visit from a professional energy contractor who can identify opportunities for home weatherization. Buttoning up your home is the best way to conserve home energy and reduce heating and cooling costs. Sustainable Williston has a few upcoming events where Williston residents can get more information and take action.

  1. Curious about the increasingly popular cold climate heat pumps? Attend a free workshop to learn about cold weather heat pump options for hot water and space heating on Wednesday, November 14th at 7pm at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library. RSVP on Facebook
  2. Ready to Button Up your home or just want to hear more? Attend the free Weatherize Williston Button Up workshop on Wednesday, November 28th at 7pm at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library. There will be a home weatherization talk and time to meet with Building Energy, the Williston energy contractor conducting the free home visits. RSVP on Facebook
Want to participate but can’t make any of these events? Visit https://buttonupvermont.org/ and click on “Sign up for a free contractor visit” by December 15. After filling out a short survey about your home characteristics and energy usage, you will be contacted directly by the energy contractor, Building Energy. While you are at the Button Up website, review the checklist to find ways to start buttoning up right away and find out about DIY weatherization incentives (up to $100) from Efficiency Vermont.
For more about the Button Up program in Williston, tune in below to the November episode of What’s Up Williston: The Chief of Police and a Look at Sustainable Williston (Button Up information starts in minute 15).

10th Annual Zero-Waste Ice Cream Social!

Ice Cream Social- July 3, 2017

This week’s July 3rd Ice Cream Social in Williston marks a decade of zero-waste efforts by Sustainable Williston. In 2009 residents and SW members Lynn and Lori formed a new partnership with the Williston Historical Society (host of the Ice Cream Social) to make the event zero-waste by using compostable materials for serving, and collecting the compost at the end of the event.

Did you know?
The waste collected at the July 3rd event is composted locally at Green Mountain Compost on Redmond Road in Williston!

Making a big event like the July 3rd social waste-free isn’t always glamorous. Volunteers help everyone properly sort their waste to ensure a clean batch of compostables, and it can be a messy job handling melted ice cream, fudge sauce and strawberry topping! The compost then travels to a volunteer’s garage to wait for Green Mountain Compost to open on July 5th. All that work is worth it though, and diverts a significant amount of waste from the landfill into a renewable resource. The event also provides an opportunity to answer questions about composting and educate residents on how to sort their waste stream.

We hope to see all Williston residents this Tuesday to enjoy some ice cream, music by the Williston Town Band, and of course enjoy the peace of mind knowing your bowl, spoon, and food scraps are going to eventually turn into nutrient rich compost!

Sustianable Williston Springs into 2018

Sustainable Williston is springing into 2018 with a series of events.

  1. In March we partnered with the Williston Fire Department to help make their Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser a waste-free event.
  2. April 7th is the annual April Stools Day event at the Williston Community Park and Area Trails.April Stools Banner
  3. April 15th is the annual Seed Starting and Swap at the gazebo on the Williston Town Green

Come on out!

Sustainable Williston meets Thursday, April 6th at 7:15 PM (Special Topic: Storm Water)

Sustainable Williston will meet Thursday evening at the Dorothy Alling Library at 7:15 PM. Becky Tharp, Manager of the Green Infrastructure Collaborative, a program of Lake Champlain Sea Grant and the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, will give an educational talk on storm water issues effecting our region. Becky’s presentation will be followed by a brief Q&A session. Come join the conversation!

Free transportation throughout the area Saturday

Here’s a note from Green Mountain Transit (GMT), formerly CCTA. This Saturday, they’re encouraging shopping at small businesses throughout the area and offering free bus rides wherever you need to go. This can be especially handy if you want to go to downtown Burlington, but don’t want to have to park.

Burlington bus station

By the way, they’ve introduced a new app for smartphones where you can see where your bus is at any moment. There’s a Web page for it, too. They’ve also built a great new bus station in Burlington, in case you haven’t seen it yet. It offers sheltered outdoor seating, free Wi-Fi, bathrooms, indoor seating, a ticket agent, a water fountain, and countdown signs that tell you how long it will be until your bus arrives. In addition to GMT routes, the station also serves Greyhound, Vermont Translines, and Megabus.

You can catch GMT buses at Taft’s corners, in Williston village, and at some other locations locally.

Enjoy GMT’s “Free Ride Day” on Small Business Saturday

For the second year in a row, Green Mountain Transit is having a free ride day on Small Business Saturday, November 26, 2016. Take the bus to local shops on this Small Business Saturday and help us support our community.

This system wide free ride day is also our thank you to our riders this holiday season. Public transportation (and FREE on Small Business Saturday) is a great asset to all! We would love for everyone to be aware and utilize the service!

The mission of GMT is to promote and operate safe, convenient, accessible, innovative and sustainable public transportation services in the northwest and central Vermont regions, that reduces congestion and pollution, encourages transit oriented development and enhances the quality of life for all.

CSWD Now Recycles Single-Use Batteries (for free)

As of this past January 1st, Chittenden Solid Waste District, our local solid waste management organization, now accepts single-use batteries for free recycling at drop-off centers and the environmental depot. Batteries have a much bigger carbon footprint than most things their sizes, and they add toxicity to landfills when just thrown away, so this is pretty great news for anyone interested in a cleaner environment or fighting climate change.

batteries

Here are the details from CSWD:

Starting January 1, 2016, CSWD Drop-Off Centers and the Environmental Depot will begin accepting  alkaline single-use batteries for recycling. To date, we have been able to accept only button-cell, lithium, rechargeable, lead-acid, and NiCd batteries for recycling. We are now adding single-use batteries to the roster of recyclable batteries.

Vermont is the first state to pass a product stewardship law that requires manufacturers of single-use batteries to pay for the collection and recycling of their products. An organization called Call2Recycle is overseeing the state-wide program, setting up nearly 100 collection sites. Since 1994, Call2Recycle has kept 100 million pounds of used batteries out of the landfill across the country.

All seven CSWD Drop-Off Centers and the Environmental Depot will accept single-use and other types of batteries free of charge, beginning in January.

★ DO NOT recycle batteries of any kind in your blue recycling bin or cart. They cannot be recycled with bottles, cans, paper, and other mandatory recyclables. They must be brought to a Drop-Off Center or the Environmental Depot for recycling.

Photo by John Seb Barber

Goodbye, CCTA!

Here’s an announcement about some great new developments in Vermont public transit from CCTA and GMTA. My favorite is the new feature that will allow finding out exactly where a bus is using your cell phone.

The new CCTA transit center in Burlington, opening in the Fall

The new CCTA transit center in Burlington, opening this Fall

In the coming months, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the Green Mountain Transit Agency (GMTA) will rebrand to become Green Mountain Transit (GMT). In July 2011, GMTA and CCTA became one legal entity, which formalized the operating relationship between the two agencies that had existed since 2003. The rebrand marks an exciting time and will finalize the last step in becoming one unified regional agency.

In conjunction with the rebranding effort, CCTA will roll out a suite of new technologies to improve the customer experience, starting with a new Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system. AVL will provide passengers with real-time bus tracking information straight to their cellphones, improving service reliability and allowing CCTA to communicate changes more efficiently. This highly sought after system has been a high priority for CCTA and its passengers for quite some time. The ability to move forward with this project is due, in large part, to funding provided by the VT Agency of Transportation. “VTrans has been an incredible partner to CCTA and all of the communities that it serves. I think they are as excited about these improvements as we are!” says Karen Walton, General Manager of CCTA

On Tuesday, January 19, the CCTA Board of Commissioners also approved a recommendation from staff to go out to bid for a mobile ticketing system. A mobile ticketing app would allow passengers to purchase fare media directly on their cellphones prior to taking their bus trip. This app will provide convenience for the riders, eliminates the need to carry exact cash fare, and is one step closer to making CCTA/GMTA a paperless system.

These passenger amenities are expected to be implemented during this calendar year before or in conjunction with the highly anticipated Downtown Transit Center (DTC) grand opening. The new state-of-the-art transit center is expected to be complete in the fall of 2016. To track progress on this, and all upcoming projects, visit our website at CCTAride.org.

About CCTA/GMTA: Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) offers fixed routes, local commuter routes, LINK Express routes, and ADA paratransit services. CCTA also provides shuttles from senior housing complexes to local supermarkets and neighborhood specials for student transportation to Burlington schools. Green Mountain Transportation Agency (GMTA) provides public transportation for Washington, Lamoille, Mad River Valley, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties and the towns of Williamstown, Washington and Orange, with connecting services to Chittenden and Caledonia counties.

Green Mountain Power Proposes Strategic Extension of Net Metering for Vermont Homeowners & Businesses

Here’s a press release from Green Mountain Power about the net metering extension:

Green Mountain Power Proposes Strategic Extension of Net Metering for Vermont Homeowners & Businesses

GMP Also Launches New Solar Map to Empower Customers

Colchester, Vt. – Green Mountain Power announced today that it has created a new solar map, which can be found on its website www.greenmountainpower.com, so Vermonters can see where solar is powering our state. The map allows Vermonters to see where solar energy is being generated and how it ties into the grid. This effort comes at a time when GMP is proposing a strategic limited extension of net metering so more Vermonters can put solar on their homes or businesses.

solar_map

“As Vermont’s Energy Company of the Future, we are all about empowering customers with clean, reliable and cost-effective power,” said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. “That means partnering with homeowners and businesses on an energy transformation that moves away from doubling down on the current grid system, and focuses more on homes, businesses, and communities, so we are generating power closer to where it is needed as we lower costs and increase reliability through innovations like battery storage.”  Through its eHome and eBiz program, GMP is working with customers to accelerate the adoption of homes and businesses that are cost effective, use dramatically less energy and can operate more independently of the grid.

GMP has reached the original net metering cap set and agreed on by solar developers and lawmakers. GMP will outline its plan and ask to extend the net metering program on a limited basis in a filing with the Public Service Board. Pending board approval, GMP will continue to allow homes and businesses to go solar by accepting net metering applications that are 15 kW and under. The proposal also allows for 7.5 MW of community projects for homes and businesses that cannot directly place solar on their home or property. This helps the landowner who would like to cover at least 50% of his or her power usage, or who will be getting 2% of the output from the project.  The Public Service Board is looking into a new net metering program that would start in 2017.

”Net metering is really important for business and residential customers, like us, who want to go solar,” said Kathy Harm, a homeowner in Rutland.  “We are excited about the benefits we have gotten and are very pleased that GMP is extending the program so more Vermonters like me can generate solar and be able to make good energy choices.”

“I commend GMP and Vermonters for leading on solar and reaching this milestone for the net metering program, which is delivering clean power throughout the state,” said Sen. Chris Bray of Addison County.  “Our state also requires utilities to provide energy that is affordable, so it’s prudent that GMP is now reassessing how to continue the movement to renewables while keeping an eye on costs for all ratepayers. I am confident that our energy future is bright in Vermont.”

“At GMP, we have internal solar siting standards that guide our work with homeowners, businesses, and communities,” said Powell. “Solar is a critical part of our energy future. This strategic limited extension of solar net metering fits with what customers tell us they want, which is to partner on energy transformation at the most local level.”

GMP’s new solar map helps inform customers where solar is being sited and how it ties into the grid. Using the solar map, you can see where projects are connected to the grid and operational and also where projects are proposed for the future by substation and circuit. GMP has created a color system to show Vermonters where capacity for new solar is abundant and where the grid is at or approaching capacity. The map itself is meant to help educate Vermonters about projects across the state and their impact on the grid system. The solar map will be updated weekly as more projects come online.

To check out the new GMP solar map, visit: http://www.greenmountainpower.com/innovative/solar/solar-map/

About Green Mountain Power:
Green Mountain Power (GMP) serves approximately 265,000 residential and business customers in Vermont and has a vision to be the best small company in America by partnering with Vermonters to improve lives and transform communities. GMP is focused on a new way of doing business to meet the needs of customers with integrated energy services that help people use less energy and save money, while continuing to generate clean, cost-effective and reliable power in Vermont. GMP is the first utility in the world to get a B Corp certification, meeting rigorous social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards and committing to use business as a force for good. In 2014, Vote Solar named GMP a Solar Champion. More information at: www.greenmountainpower.com. Connect with GMP on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GreenMtnPower.

Congress Extends Tax Credits for Renewable Energy, but Green Mountain Power Reaches Net Metering Cap

Solar panels

There’s good news, good news, bad news, and (UPDATE) more good news for some Vermonters who want to participate in generating renewable energy. The good news is very good news: Congress has extended federal tax credits for new renewable energy installations, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and marine power (tidal generators, for instance–see April Fool’s Day post here), with solar and wind credits extending right out to 2020. This means that manufacturers, installers, homeowners, businesses, and communities can move forward with renewable energy plans without worrying whether or not tax credits will apply, and that makes a big difference in the numbers.

Read more about this at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/renewables-boom-expected-thanks-to-tax-credit

The other good news is that Vermont has added new solar generation capacity so quickly, several Vermont utilities have already met their net metering goals. This is also, unfortunately, the bad news, because it means that under normal circumstances, Green Mountain Power customers wouldn’t be able to add new net-metered solar. That doesn’t mean the power wouldn’t be useful, but it would take away the huge advantage to everyone of making that solar power available through the grid and being paid a price for it that takes into account the additional value of non-fossil fuel generation. However, here’s an UPDATE from Green Mountain Power:

we [have] proposed to the Public Service Board … a limited strategic extension of net metering, and as part of it will continue to allow rooftop solar. We have also proposed having community projects for folks who can’t go solar …

So that’s good news for Green Mountain Power customers. The problem remains, unfortunately, for Vermont Electric Co-op and Hardwick Electric customers, as these two companies have also reached their caps and unlike GMP have not (to the best of my knowledge) made the additional effort to work around the net metering cap. Williston’s electric customers are about evenly split, geographically, between Green Mountain Power in the north part of town and Vermont Electric Co-op in the south part of town.

This problem will continue until net metering caps are raised; let’s hope that’s soon!

Read more about the net metering cap at http://vtdigger.org/2015/11/10/green-mountain-power-poised-to-top-net-metering-cap/.