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Woodstock-area towns push ahead on regional energy coordinator

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/4/2020 6:21:52 PM
Modified: 3/4/2020 10:24:51 PM

WOODSTOCK — Officials with the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission said plans to create a regional energy coordinator position will proceed after six of the seven towns involved in the proposal approved funding at Town Meeting this week.

Kevin Geiger, a senior planner at the Woodstock-based Two Rivers, said the commission hopes to have the coordinator start in July.

“The concept got enough support that we would move ahead and schedule a joint meeting with the six towns that did pass the article,” he said via email on Wednesday. “Most Selectboards will have their organizational meeting in the next two weeks, so we will likely have a query out to them to have a representative attend a meeting later in the month.”

The proposal calls for a one-year service contract with the towns, with the coordinator helping to develop and manage their energy planning and implementation. The goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy.

Two Rivers sought to raise about $116,000 for salary, benefits and overhead for the position, with funding based on an amount proportional to each town’s Grand List.

More than $105,000 passed at Town Meeting votes. Woodstock approved almost $37,000 and Norwich $30,700. It also passed in Barnard, Sharon, Strafford and Thetford, but Pomfret residents rejected a request for $10,379 from their town.

Nick Clark, a member of the Thetford Selectboard and a major proponent of the plan, said he was pleased by the results.

“There is enough interest and funds raised to proceed. This could mean raising the missing Pomfret funds through private donations, inviting another town to replace Pomfret, seeking a grant, or adjusting the position somehow,” Clark said via email. “We’ve started working on that problem-solving, and I don’t have a clear answer yet (it being less than 24 hours after the results came in).”

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