Connecting & Activating Vermont Communities

12th Annual VECAN Conference 2019

Meeting the Moment: Collectively Confronting the Climate Crisis

Overview

Featuring 14 workshops and a dynamic keynote address from Maine Representative Chloe Maxmin, this year’s inspiring conference aimed at supporting and growing the statewide network of town energy committees and building the capacity and expertise of any Vermonter interested in being part of the solution to the climate crisis.

The day also offered unparalleled networking opportunities, both with local energy leaders as well as Vermont’s leading clean energy businesses, organizations, institutions, and state agency partners. There was ample opportunity to connect with and visit the tables of the sponsoring organizations, including solar installers, weatherization experts, financing and funding institutions, transportation innovators, nonprofit leaders, and many more.

Chloe Maxmin - Growing a Climate Movement Rooted in Rural America

Chloe Maxmin, 27, is the Representative for the rural Maine House District 88. She ran for the Maine House of Representatives in 2018 in her hometown, winning her primary with 80% of the vote and the General Election with 52.4% of the vote, making her the first Democrat to win the District 88 seat. Chloe’s expertise and focus is on building a durable, values-based movement — with a particular focus on rural regions — to combat the climate crisis.

Chloe was raised on her family’s farm in Nobleboro, Maine, and has been a community organizer for 14 years. Chloe co-founded Divest Harvard – a campaign calling on Harvard University to divest from fossil fuels that ultimately drew 70,000 supporters. In 2015, after graduation from Harvard, Chloe returned to Maine. Prior to that, Chloe founded First Here, Then Everywhere to empower youth climate activists. 

Her life-long climate activism has won her broad recognition. She is the recipient of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and the Brower Youth Award, she was named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone and recognized by the Washington Post, CNN and many other news outlets for her leadership. You can follow her on Twitter at @chloemaxmin.

Chloe Maxmin Keynote

 

Setting the Frame: Where We Are, Where We Need to Go…

  • Where Does Vermont Stand on Its Climate and Clean Energy Goals? Presentation by Energy Action Network

Presenters:

Jared Duval , Energy Action Network

Combating Climate Change in Every Committee Room: A 2020 Legislative Preview by Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe

Remarks from Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe on Combating Climate Change in Every Committee Room: A 2020 Legislative Preview.

Tim Ashe is the President of the Vermont State Senate and serves on the Senate Appropriations and Transportation Committees. During his affordable housing career he developed two solar projects, coordinated substantial weatherization projects for 152 apartments, and achieved Enterprise Green Communities certification for two new senior housing facilities. He worked with town energy committees to authorize substantial solar projects on capped landfills in South Burlington and Brattleboro, along with many other pieces of legislation addressing climate change.

Tim Ashe Keynote

Legislative Lowdown and the Look Forward for 2020

The ongoing federal obstructionism on climate action – paired with the increasing intensity of the climate crisis – requires states and cities to step up, and step in, to tackle this pressing challenge. Learn about what Vermont policy makers have in mind to make meaningful progress in the 2020 legislative session, what it could take to succeed and how you can stay connected to Statehouse happenings to help make much-needed progress this year.

Presenters:

Selene Colburn, State Representative, Chittenden 6-4

Lauren Hierl, Vermont Conservation Voters

Andrew Perchlik, State Senator, Washington County

Capping Pollution and Investing in Equitable Solutions: The Transportation and Climate Initiative

To reduce carbon pollution in our most intensive sector – transportation – we need tools in our toolbox to require reductions and raise dollars to invest in clean, efficient, diverse mobility options. The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional effort – and an opportunity – to require pollution reduction in the transportation sector and raise revenues to help more Vermonters – in particular rural, low income earners – make investments in cleaner, more affordable ways to get where they need to go. Learn about this promising effort, why it’s so important, and how you can help shape a strong, equitable program.

Presenters:

Tim Ashe, Senate President Pro-Tempore

Johanna Miller, Vermont Natural Resources Council

Jordan Stutt, Acadia Center 

Peter Walke, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Transportation Electrification - Buses, Bikes, Cars

Moving people from fossil fuel-powered combustion vehicles to more efficient, largely renewably powered electric vehicles is a powerful climate mitigation strategy, especially in a rural state like Vermont. The opportunities for individuals to go electric – in part, bolstered by a new state incentive program – are growing. And, while bumps in the road remain, there are exciting opportunities to electrify buses. Get the latest on the landscape for electric transportation in Vermont… and what obstacles still exist

Presenters:

Geoff Martin, Hartford Energy Coordinator 

Peggy O’Neill-Vivanco, Clean Cities Coalition

Dave Roberts, Drive Electric Vermont

Maximizing the Energy Transformation Opportunities in Vermont's Renewable Energy Standard

Vermont’s distribution utilities and energy efficiency utilities have been playing important roles in helping Vermonters reduce their energy use and carbon pollution. This work is happening through the “Transformation Tier” of the Renewable Energy Standard and through the ongoing energy efficiency programs offered statewide. Learn about current programs underway and how they are spurring creative, flexible, and collaborative energy innovation. Also, hear about what these important partners are considering so that they can accomplish even more moneysaving, pollution-reducing results.

Presenters:

Emily Eckert, Green Mountain Power

Rebecca Foster, Efficiency Vermont 

Darren Springer, Burlington Electric Department

Steven Wisbaum, Eco-Equipment Supply

Zero Energy Now: A Whole-Home Energy Transformation

It took hundreds of years for us to get into the present global climate crisis. To comprehensively overhaul our fossil fuel powered society in 30 years – as climate science and our statewide 90% by 2050 comprehensive energy plan says we should – we have a tall order in front of us. Learn about the results to date of the “Zero Energy Now” initiative and the effort to push this successful program statewide. Find out how you – or your energy committee – might help expand this program to enable many more Vermonters to participate, home-by-home, helping take serious pollution-reducing steps to reach our state’s necessarily ambitious pollution-reducing targets.

Presenters

Richard Faesy, Energy Futures Group

Chuck Reiss, Building Performance Professionals Association/Hinesburg Energy Committee

Li Ling Young, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

Using Evidence and Data to Drive Rapid, Cost-Effective, and Equitable Emissions Reductions

The urgency of the climate crisis demands that we effectively utilize data and evidence to reduce emissions as quickly, cost-effectively, and equitably as possible. Join a discussion about what tools and data exist to assess the cost-effectiveness of different emissions reduction strategies and see where and how those best practices and technologies are being adopted across Vermont. Specifically, panelists will share information from the Vermont Energy Dashboard and the Public Service Department’s new GHG cost-effectiveness assessment tool.

Presenters

Jared Duval, Energy Action Network

Philip Picotte, Vermont Department of Public Service

Working Effectively with Municipalities: Tips and Tricks for Energy Committees

As local energy committees work to help their communities become more sustainable, forging positive working relationships with municipal officials can be a key to success. This workshop will share tips about forming positive relationships with municipal officials. Participants will also complete an exercise designed to help identify next steps.

Presenters:

Lori Hirshfield, Town of Hartford

Kelly Lucci, Efficiency Vermont

Kate Stephenson, Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee

VECAN Municipality Workshop Breakout Session

Building Climate Resilience: Tools, Tips and Fundamental Approaches

With the effects of climate change already being felt in Vermont and around the world, making our communities more resilient is critical. Learn about how restoring soil health can improve resilience, both within ecosystems and within communities. Plus, hear from leaders from the Hartford Resilience Team and Community Resilience Organizations and how you might get involved.

Presenters:

Cat Buxton, Vermont Healthy Soils Program

Kye Cochran, Hartford Resilience Team

Simon Denis, Hartford Resilience Team

Ramping Up Weatherization

Weatherization is critical to reducing carbon emissions and saving Vermonters money by reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool buildings. Increased weatherization incentives announced this summer by the state’s three Energy Efficiency Utilities – Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Gas, and Burlington Electric Department – are helping to accelerate the number of weatherized home across the state, but more work is needed. Come learn firsthand how local energy leaders can support more weatherization in their communities. This panel will include presentations from those working on weatherization in Vermont including contractors, a program administrator, and a town energy committee.

Presenters:

Jim Bradley, Vermont Builders and Remodelers Association 

Paul Fleckenstein, Contractor

Kelly Lucci, Efficiency Vermont 

Kathie Voigt, Jericho Energy Task Force

Understanding and Alleviating Vermonters Energy Burden -- Projects and Approaches

What is energy burden? Dive into an updated report on how and where energy burden is felt by Vermonters, particularly low income Vermonters. Then, learn about innovative ways that energy committees and others are working to engage with low income neighbors to alleviate it – and how programs are working to lower barriers to participation in the clean energy economy for renters and those with low incomes.

Presenters:

Rebecca Foster, Efficiency Vermont

Bob Walker, Thetford Energy Committee

Paul Zabriskie, Capstone Community Action

Thetford Energy Committee Home Energy Walk Through Check List

Accelerating Vermont’s Renewable Energy Future

Accelerating the development and procurement of clean, renewable electricity to meet our heat, power and transportation needs is an incredibly important piece of doing our part to combat the climate crisis. In this workshop, get an update on what’s happening with net metering, what more is needed and learn about the 2020 push for a 100% renewable energy standard goal – and what that means for you, your community and Vermont. And, find out how you can help support job- and resilience-creating in-state wind and solar renewable generation and the enactment of a strong, equitable 100% renewable requirement in 2020.

Presenters:

Olivia Campbell-Andersen, Renewable Energy Vermont 

Ben Edgerly-Walsh, Vermont Public Interest Research Group

Aiko Schaefer, 100% Network

The Role of Vermont’s Forests in Climate Action -- Heating and Sequestering

Vermont’s forests will increasingly play an important role in our state’s clean energy future… as well as in our state’s climate crisis response. How can the state support a strong climate forest economy, helping heat Vermonters homes in an efficient, sustainable way through strategic, carbon-beneficial harvest practices? How – and why – can Vermont maintain large forest blocks to sequester carbon as a strong, essential climate pollution reduction strategy? Find out far more about the different, important roles Vermont’s forests plan in energy and climate – and offer your thoughts on how to maintain an important balance of forest-based values and benefits.

Presenters:

Jamey Fidel, Vermont Natural Resources Council 

Emma Hanson, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Bill Keeton, University of Vermont 

Bill Keeton Biomass

Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Research Center

Beyond Cars: Success Stories and Strategies

Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions and often the single largest household budget item. Gaps in mobility represent a serious challenge to communities. In this workshop, learn about innovative tools tailored to assist community volunteers to take action, support housing-friendly zoning, and undertake transportation planning. Plus, hear about stories, strategies, and resources to help guide you to positive results in reducing transportation-related carbon pollution in your community

Presenters:

Van Chestnut, Advance Transit 

Faith Ingulsrud, Agency of Commerce and Community Development

Deb Sachs, Net Zero Vermont

Leading By Example: Collaborating With Schools and Students to Move Energy Projects Forward

How can concerned citizens work effectively with local schools to help them prioritize and implement energy and climate opportunities? What are key tools and programs available to schools that are ready to take on projects? How can we effectively engage and support motivated students working to make change at their school and in the community? This panel will answer these questions and more with a mix of stories and technical advice.

Presenters:

Jon Copans, Vermont Council on Rural Development

Maeve MacLachlan, Student

Cara Robechek, Vermont Energy Education Program