Meeting minutes June 30, 2010

Attending: Pat Larson, George and Pat Roix, Hal Gillam, Cathy Stanton, Linda Paquet, Genevieve Fraser, Bruce Spencer, Brian Mallet, Linda Oldach, Janice and Steve Kurkoski, Cara Cleveland

Announcements:

  • Chris Martenson, Montague resident and author of the popular Crash Course video series will give a talk on Thursday, July 8, 7 p.m. at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Martenson will explore the intersection of the 3E’s – the economy, energy, and environment—and present a compelling, rigorously researched case for why the next 20 years will be completely unlike the last. The talk is presented in association with Transition Towns of Western Massachusetts.
  • On July 27 from 6-8:30 p.m., there will be a workshop and networking event at Athol Town Hall for contractors, builders, building suppliers, and others involved in the building trades to learn more about the Stretch Code, which has been adopted by Athol. There will be HERS raters and other knowledgeable speakers present.
  • On Sept. 25 there will be a teach-in and workshops at the Orange Town Hall called “Farm, Field, and Forest,” focusing on ways of growing and hunting food. There will be a photo/art exhibit associated with the event.
  • The Athol Public Library‘s “How Green is Your Library?” series continues through the summer. On August 17 at 6 p.m., there will be an “Introduction to Solar Hot Water” by Mark Skinder of the Greenfield Solar Store. The event will be co-sponsored by North Quabbin Energy.

Town energy committee updates
Orange – The selectboard decided in May not to have Stretch Code as an article on the town warrant. Given the upheaval in Orange over the recent tax override vote, the energy committee feels this is not a good time to continue pursuing Green Communities designation. The committee decided to have a work session on Saturday, July 10 from 9 a.m. to noon to make winserts for the first floor offices of the Town Hall. They will also encourage town officials to work on getting National Grid data for the town (see below).
Athol – Athol was one of the group of 35 towns that did receive Green Communities designation this spring, and the town has already submitted a grant application for the first round of funding. The proposal is for four projects: (1) testing wind potential testing, (2) upgrading the senior center with solar hot water and weatherization, (3) adding a solar system to Fire Station #2, and (4) doing an alternatives analysis on Town Hall and library. Because a cap on funding requests was added to the program after the fact, the committee ended up not putting in a request for the idea that several members saw as potentially the most effective, which was hiring a coordinator and offering incentives for Athol residents to complete energy audits and efficiency improvements. The committee included a white paper with its proposal to reiterate the potential effectiveness of this idea, along with a letter from National Grid expressing support for it.
New Salem – The town is still working on getting Green Communities designation. New Salem did get a grant through federal stimulus money to reduce its electric and heating costs by a substantial amount. They’re also trying to work on reducing vehicle fuel costs, which are high. Because there is no fuel station in New Salem, they’re considering the idea of creating one or more electric vehicle refueling stations, with PV panels as the energy source. Insulation of town buildings and purchase of a new boiler for the town hall are also happening.
Petersham – The committee decided to survey the community to find out about people’s interest and awareness of energy issues and projects, but they got an extremely small response. They’re planning to re-aim their efforts at encouraging people to do efficiency and conservation projects in individual homes, plus hosting workshops. The town government does want Linda Paquet to make winserts for the town hall and has appropriated some funding for that. The committee will also have a table at Old Home Day and will walk in the Fourth of July parade again.
Warwick – The town is putting in a small PV system with its “GreenStart”/Mass. Technology Collaborative funds. The town hall is getting a new roof, and they took down an unused chimney to reduce draft from that. The big project is an energy audit for the school, which is quite new but very inefficint. The town is issuing an RFP for someone to assess the school’s thermal envelope. The school and committee will be using data loggers to try to figure out where the problems are with the building. Steve and Janice reported that the committee has been learning by trial and error (for example, they now wish they had capped rather than just shortening the chimney on the town hall roof).

National Grid data
Janice has set in motion the release of data from National Grid town for the various North Quabbin towns. We can get town-by-town data broken into four categories: residential, residential/heating with electricity, commercial/industrial, and outdoor lighting. Data has already been received for Warwick and Royalston. Athol, Petersham, Orange are working on it; Janice will contact someone in Wendell, Bruce will check about New Salem, and Hal will check with Erving.

Warwick’s average residential use (for customers who do not heat with electricity) is almost 600 kWh/month, and Royalston’s is almost 700. Given that our own group’s figures were more in the 2-300 kWh/month range when we surveyed ourselves informally last spring, we think these figures may prove useful to us in showing people how their electrical usage compares and what they might do to lower their consumption.

Garlic and Arts Festival
Oct. 2-3
Janice went over the list of speakers as previously noted in the previous meeting’s minutes.
North Quabbin Energy will have a table and will focus on:
* winsert promotions
* electricity data
* progress on Green Cmmties designation
* local food
* upcoming events

Winserts
We tentatively scheduled our fall “Take a Winsert Home” workshop for Saturday morning, Oct. 23 (9 to noon). We will offer this to the first 10 people who sign up and who call in measurements for one of their windows to Brian in advance, so that we can have frames ready for them to finish at the workshop. Others can attend, but wouldn’t be able to make a winsert themselves. We’ll promote this and work on signing people up at our Garlic Festival table. This workshop is being supported with our $500 grant from the Garlic Festival.

Orange is also planning to make winserts for its town hall. There is a work day scheduled for Saturday, July 12 from 9 to noon. Various people have signed up to help, and some NQE folks will attend.

Carla Charter is interested in doing a story in the Greenfield Recorder about North Quabbin Energy, and Pat suggested that she might focus on the winsert project and how it has found its way into several public buildings in four area towns by this point.

We will also aim to schedule a work day in Petersham to help Linda with the winserts for the town hall there.

Other business
We will co-sponsor a talk on Domestic Hot Water by staff from the Greenfield Solar Store as part of the Athol Library’s “How Green is Your Library?” series on August 17 from 6-8 p.m. Linda, Pat Roix, and Cara will provide refreshments.

Next meeting
Wednesday, August 25
This will be held at Cathy Stanton’s new house-in-progress in Wendell. Directions will be provided closer to the meeting date. We will start with a tour at 5 p.m., followed by a potluck picnic and meeting.

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