BRANDON — Now that it’s completed the job laid out for it, the town Energy Committee is considering what to do next.
At the May 24 Select Board meeting, it was decided that Select Board Member Tim Guiles would work with Energy Committee members to draft some ideas for its future work, and how it will go about reporting to town leaders.
The Energy Committee is a subcommittee of the Planning Commission. Select Board Chair Seth Hopkins thanked the committee for having completed the list of preferred solar sites in town, a step necessary for the town to have more say in the outcome of Public Utility Commission decisions.
Committee member Jack Schneider said the group has been on hiatus for the past few months and wished for some direction.
Guiles said he’s been interested in the committee’s future role and said a similar group in Montpelier appears to have been effective. He wanted to contact other towns with energy committees to see what they’ve been doing. Guiles said the state has two main energy goals, one being to have 90% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2050, the other being to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of what they were in 1990 by 2028, and by 70% of what they were in 1990 by 2050.
“And I think it would be profoundly useful to have an energy committee who is kind of keeping track of how we’re doing and helping come up with creative ideas on how we might reach these goals so the state can be successful,” he said, adding that he doesn’t envision giving the committee authority, but to have it gather and track data, among other tasks.
He said the committee has done good work organizing events that raise awareness and knowledge about electric vehicles, energy efficient heating sources, and weatherization.
“One of the great things about the Energy Committee is that it really became very proactive, in terms of raising the profile of the need to take energy seriously, and also to support the community in achieving that,” said committee member Edna Sutton. “I think it would be a huge shame if we lost that, but its weakness, I think, is that a lot of activity can happen but we have nowhere to go. So it needs some way of informing, either the Planning Commission or the Select Board itself, so the information that’s gathered and the good work that goes on isn’t kept in a vacuum.”
Hopkins said because the committee is a subcommittee of the Planning Commission, it’s assumed that it would report to the commission, or to the Select Board when warranted.
“I would also strongly recommend that the Energy Committee isn’t diminished in any way,” said committee member Matt Orchard. “I think we all can recognize that we all have a large number of environmental challenges we’re going to be facing in our community, both locally and as a state, in the future, and having a dedicated group of people that has been engaged in this conversation and in advocacy work around supporting our community to be more mindful of their environmental decisions and choices can only be a benefit.”
He encouraged the board and the commission to give the committee a strong, clear mandate.