Energy forum set for Bennington on March 21
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | March 15,2013
BENNINGTON — The Bennington County Regional Commission is hosting a public forum Thursday in Bennington to discuss the possibilities for different energy sources in Southern Vermont including wind, solar and hydro-electric.
The forum, for which there is no cost, will include presentations by William Scully, of Carbon Zero, who developed a hydro-electric project in Bennington, and John Guerin, from EOS Ventures, a company that developed a solar project in Pownal. Also making presentations will be Tom Evslin, co-founder of NG Advantage, a Milton company that delivers natural gas, and Adam Sherman from the Biomass Energy Resource Center in Montpelier.
James Sullivan, executive director of the Bennington County Regional Commission, said the forum will look at some emerging energy sources for Bennington County, some of them already in use and others with increasing potential.
“There’s certainly been a lot of interest in (energy). Our regional energy plan (for the BCRC) suggests that looking down the road, 20, 30 years in the future that almost inevitably we’re going to have to rely to a greater extent on local resources and local generation for energy,” Sullivan said.
Some recent developments have increased the interest in some of the energy sources to be discussed at the forum.
For instance, Scully’s hydro-electric generation project, located at the former Vermont Tissue mill is very close to getting its final permits while the solar project in Pownal, which is owned by Gestamp Renewables and located at the Southern Vermont Energy Park, is online and another solar project is expected soon near the Bennington transfer station. Biomass heating projects are already in use at Bennington College and Mount Anthony Union middle and high schools.
Sullivan said NG Advantage is not delivering natural gas to Bennington County yet but considering proposals that would extend their deliveries to this area.
Sullivan said he thought it would be useful that some of the presenters will have local experience.
While the forum will look at what’s available in the area and the potential they represent for future energy needs, Sullivan said he also expects it will spark some general conversation and interest in energy from renewable or alternative sources.
“Certainly we hope that it sparks some interest in maybe some people starting to make connections to advance some of these energy sources locally,” he said.
Sullivan and Scully said they were both interested in hearing what kind of questions people will raise. Scully said he was excited to participate and share his own experiences in developing a hydro-electric project but said he was looking forward to feedback from the forum.
“I really like the question and answer period. I think it’s interesting to look at other people’s perspective on what we’ve done and as it pertains to what they’re thinking about doing or interested in,” he said.
While Scully is a presenter, he said he expects to learn at the forum as well.
“I think it’s going to be interesting just to know what people are doing. They’re looking at a pretty broad spectrum of ideas,” he said.
The forum will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 21 at the Bennington Station, a local restaurant. Sullivan has asked that anyone who plans to attend RSVP to him at 442-0458 so BCRC can plan accordingly.