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Climate change group seeks test neighborhood

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As seen in the Addison Independent:

MIDDLEBURY — The Energy Task Force of the Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative is searching for a neighborhood to participate in a pilot program to help residents save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Task Force has outlined ambitious goals for the pilot: to achieve participation by 90 percent of households and significant measures in 50 percent of homes.

The offerings and incentives will be both simple and flexible to provide residents with significant opportunities to reduce costs for electricity, transportation and home heating.

“There will be a wide range of opportunities so people can participate in ways that make sense for them,” said Chris Huston, chair of the Energy Task Force working on the initiative. “These will include free smart thermostats and workshops, lower-cost options such as simple air sealing work, car-pooling, or LED light bulbs; and higher-cost items like switching to an electric car, signing up for solar, or comprehensive weatherization projects. One of our goals is a high level of participation, so we are offering a wide variety of options to make it easy for residents to participate.”

Central to the success of this pilot is direct neighbor-to-neighbor outreach to engage residents and to launch them on a path toward energy savings. The task force and utility partners will provide strong support including training, workshops, materials and follow-up. Anyone living in a neighborhood of 20, 50, 100 (or even more) households that could rally around a project like this should reach out to Huston at to express interest in participation.

In the coming weeks, the task force will engage those from interested neighborhoods as they make a final neighborhood selection decision. The task force intends to expand this program to other neighborhoods and towns after a successful pilot.

“In designing this program, the Energy Task Force has worked hard to learn from other community energy initiatives implemented here in Vermont,” noted Huston. “We believe we have the right design and right partners to do something transformative that will become a model for other neighborhoods and other communities. We are excited to hear from those in the Middlebury area interested in bringing this great opportunity to their neighbors.”

More information about the project is available at

This project is being developed by local community people as part of the Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative ( The Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative is part of the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program. Through a series of three public meetings last fall, over 150 citizens of Middlebury and surrounding towns helped identify key priorities to grow prosperity, increase affordability, and reduce climate impacts in the Middlebury area. The work of the Energy Task Force is one of four key priorities of the Initiative.

VCRD is a non-profit organization supporting the locally defined progress of Vermont’s rural communities.