Letter to the Editor: Energy group member lauded

Jason Kaye will be leaving the all-volunteer, town-appointed Middlebury Energy Committee this month to allow others to come on to and lead the committee and to pursue other civic engagement activities, as I have done. He modeled excellent process and structure, including committee role clarification and rotation and prudent goal setting and review. As its chair these past two years, the committee appreciated Jason’s “in-betweener” email reminders to prompt subcommittee action and reports so that the committee’s regular monthly meetings could be more productive. It also loved his motivational “clap-woo” closings.
I appreciate greatly the strides of the Middlebury Energy Committee during Jason’s tenure, which you can review in the 2016 Town of Middlebury Annual Report and at middleburyenergy.org. The energy committee works in four areas: energy efficiency (which we call “Efficiency First” because it is the most economical and makes other energy investments more effective); transportation (“Ways to Go”); renewables, and long-term planning.
The committee publicized the opening of the new net-zero town office — one of the country’s first — with information tables at the open house and explanations of the energy dashboard in the lobby. In keeping with its mission to help the town increase its energy efficiency, it requested annual funding to put toward an energy efficiency project in a town building or facility.
The committee helped devise and interpret a transportation survey for Middlebury that indicates modes of travel (walking, biking, solo car rides, carpools, bus, etc.) and people’s opinions of the adequacy of transportation options. It experimented with completing weeklong trip diaries, which could be utilized in the broader community to improve self-awareness of how we travel. It coordinated an electric car, bike and vanpool demo with Middlebury Safe Routes, updated the sidewalk survey, and celebrated the installation of two new solar-powered crosswalk rapid flashing beacon lights. It sponsored the Sustainability Expo with transportation as the primary focus.
The committee kept abreast of state and regional planning for solar siting. In the coming year more work will be done at the town level with the planning commission to develop an energy plan aligned with the one approved by the state. It continued to work on the Vermont Community Energy Dashboard (vtenergydashboard.org) to track energy saving actions and renewable energy installations. It applied for and just won a Climate Economy grant to help advance our energy and economic health goals.
Thank you, Jason, for your ever-positive energy and for encouraging new members to bring their interest and motivation to the energy committee’s exciting work.
Laura Asermily
Selectboard member Middlebury

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