ENERGY COMMITTEE REPORT 2018

In 2018, the Energy Committee continued to use Green Communities funds to provide grants to homeowners who performed energy-saving work on their home. This year an energy audit prior to the work was no longer required, a change that has enabled a greater number of residents to participate. We have now served 51 households, and disbursed more than $33,000 of Green Communities funds for this purpose. We have also used Green Communities funds for small energy-saving upgrades on several town buildings and have earmarked the remaining Green Communities funds to replace the lights at the Town Hall, install window quilts at the Senior Center, and to install photovoltaic solar panels on the Town Office roof. There is a chance we’ll have enough money remaining after these projects are complete to install air-source heat pumps at the Senior Center.

 The Wendell Food Forest Garden group started its spring season with a consultation from Broadfork Permaculture. They helped with pruning and training the garden’s pear tree, and offered weed control strategies. The season continued with successful improvements, such as creating pathways, adding beautiful wooden benches with help and donated materials from Bill Facey, and major weed remediation. It culminated with a successful event that included a plant swap and the building of hurdles to border some of the beds.

The Energy Committee continued our tradition of having a Groundhog Day event at the Town Hall. Another well attended, informational evening with potluck dinner was on Earth Day, April 22nd. That program “Climate Justice and Democracy in Western Mass – and Puerto Rico” with special guest, Iris Morales, was filmed and shown on local TV stations. At our booth at Old Home Day, we encouraged composting by giving away kitchen compost buckets, we demonstrated the solar oven, and we informed residents about the Wendell Solar Cooperative project. We also had exhibits at the Garlic and Arts Festival.

The Wendell Solar Cooperative project has been put on hold due to unfortunate news from National Grid. They have notified Northeast Solar that the substation would require significant upgrades due to the many new solar arrays that are hoping to be built in the area, and such upgrades will cost over $3 million and take several years to complete. There is hope the project will eventually continue, and we are currently on the waiting list for interconnection with National Grid.

Respectfully submitted,
Laurie DiDonato

Co-Chair, Energy Committee