Municipal Energy Resilience Program
The Municipal Energy Resilience Program (MERP) is coming to a town near you! MERP is a $45,000,000, ARPA-funded state program that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from public buildings while helping towns save money on their utility bills. There are three separate funding opportunities available through MERP: Community Capacity-Building “Mini-Grants” of up to $4,000 each, Municipal Building Energy Assessments, and Project Implementation Grants of up to $500,000 each. Applications for the Mini-Grants and Assessments are now open, to be followed by the Project Grant application in winter ’23/’24. For more information on program requirements and deadlines, please see our MERP flyer or contact our at [email protected].
Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator
The Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (IREC) works closely with participating TRORC towns to promote actions and programs that support the energy goals defined in each town’s adopted energy plan. The program provides Energy Coordinator services to towns that do not have the resources on their own to implement and manage energy efficiency programs. Additionally, IREC towns benefit from information and knowledge shared by the other participating towns and energy committees.
Planning for the IREC program began in FY 2019 when six towns in the region approached TRORC requesting staff support to provide a shared Energy Coordinator. The original six towns were Barnard, Fairlee, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford and Woodstock. Voters in each of these 6 towns approved funding to support this work, and an Intermunicipal Energy Agreement articulating responsibilities and roles among the towns and TRORC was executed. The first locally funded, shared service of its kind was off and running.
Value is provided to the IREC towns by documenting energy savings and bringing in grant dollars to fund energy efficiency projects. IREC services include: developing, procuring, and managing town level energy projects such as energy audits, community solar, replacing fossil fuel heating systems, and building EV charging stations; as well as conducting community outreach and education. The IREC works with the town to efficiently manage and track their energy usage to lower their energy bills and verify energy project savings.
As of FY 2023, the seven Towns participating in the IREC program are Barnard, Bradford, Sharon, Norwich, Strafford, Thetford, and Woodstock. Any program that works towards Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan goals by increasing energy efficiency or reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is within the scope of the IREC program. The IREC Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from the six towns, helps to further define the direction of the program and assigns specific tasks.
For more information about this program, contact Jeff Grout at [email protected].
Energy in the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Region
The choices we make about energy planning at the regional and local level affect our health, our environment, and our economy. Our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribute to global climate change, which drives higher temperatures and more erratic weather patterns across the globe and throughout our region, including both droughts and heavier precipitation events that cause flooding. In addition, the volatile cost of fossil fuels is a financial drain on our towns and their residents. In short, our energy systems are unsustainable and need to be transformed. Thankfully, the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Region has the resources to help make this transformation possible in our region. From our buildings to our transportation system, to our electric generation systems, clean, efficient alternatives to existing technologies are available today, and in many cases are cheaper to operate and install than their fossil fuel counterparts. If done correctly, the transition to clean energy and more energy-efficient systems will benefit all members of our communities in the form of lower costs, a cleaner environment, and a stable climate. For a complete picture of our approach to energy planning at the regional level, please see our Regional Plan, Chapter 11: Energy.
How Can We Help You?
The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission is committed to working with our communities on their energy planning efforts. We can assist towns with the drafting of energy or climate action plans, the implementation of energy-conscious land use regulations, and the creation of internal policies aimed at reducing municipal energy use. As a regional organization, we are also involved in the review of proposed energy generation facilities and generally support them whenever they are appropriate for the community in which they will be located. Our staff can help you:
- Incorporate Energy into Your Town Plan & Zoning
- Create an Energy Committee or Coordinator Position
- Find Data on Energy Use & Existing or Potential Energy Production in Your Town
- Implement Your Energy Policies & Actions at the Town Level
- Find Funding for Implementing Energy Actions & Projects
Jeff Grout, Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator
Harry Falconer, Planner, Municipal Energy Resilience Program