Energy committee buckles down on grants, outreach
By Erin Mansfield
CORRESPONDENT | April 03,2014
WALLINGFORD — With frustration about the Wallingford Elementary School bond revote dominating its monthly meeting, the Wallingford Energy Committee decided to pursue an aggressive outreach campaign to secure bond validation April 22.
The six members at the meeting decided to pursue a calling campaign, mobilize parents, and put a sign outside Town Hall warning of the revote. They will pursue as many grants to fund the project as possible, they said.
“What happens in a special election is that those who are against the project turn out, and those who support it don’t,” co-chairman Jay White said. “We’ve got to organize.”
Member John Armstrong said the committee could get high voter turnout if they focus on messaging.
“What you’re really doing is making the school viable,” Armstrong said. “What you’re really doing is keeping the school.”
The $900,000 bond would fund the 75 percent of what Energy Committee co-chairman Ken Welch called a comprehensive and sensible renovation project, which includes nine specific energy renovations.
Three of the major energy initiatives include installing a pellet boiler, installing photovoltaic solar panels on the roof and replacing electric kitchen equipment with gas-based equipment.
Originally expecting the project to be completed during summer, school officials said, the committee is now saying the vote delay has crunched the project’s schedule.
“It’s going to be tight,” White said.
“If there’s been one slight silver lining to this whole fiasco, it’s that we’ve had more time to chase down grant money,” he said.
Welch said he already considered funding for the photovoltaic panel project through a Rural Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the town turned out to be ineligible. Instead, he said, he is pursuing a Clean Energy Development Fund Grant through Vermont’s Public Service Department.
“I wanted to go for half of our project, and our whole project is $140,000,” he said. Welch told the committee the specific grant is competitive and is likely to be split among many projects across the state.
“We’re going to get as much as we can,” Welch said after the meeting. “We’ll settle for less.”