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Introduction

More Than A Delightful Dozen Model Projects

Acknowledgements

This content was compiled and edited by Melissa Everett, who gives heartfelt thanks to the many contributors of help, content and experience including Justin Haaheim, Jessica Bergman, Katherine Freygang, Andy Bauer, Catherine Deviney, Kathy Quinn, Gary Fisher, Pete Kovaleski, Will McCalpin, Taylor Vann, Sarah Cinquemani, and above all the architect of Clean Water Action’s Connecticut energy programs in their first decade, Roger Smith.

Why This Guide?

Look around. Opportunities to save energy are everywhere. So are opportunities to demonstrate new, clean, renewable technologies, from solar panels to ductless heat pumps to LED street lights. Throughout Connecticut, these opportunities are widely available to citizens and households as well as to businesses, governments and institutions. This is because Connecticut has a well-developed energy policy and incentive programs that very strongly encourage grassroots action by all those groups.

If you live in a Connecticut city, town or village, your community can play. One way to access valuable resources is by joining the Clean Energy Communities program administered by the the entities that comprise the EnergizeCT initiative. By making a commitment to a target for smart energy use, Connecticut communities become eligible for mini-grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems that are directly earned by the actions of citizen volunteers. The state has also developed financing programs for homeowners and businesses, to make energy upgrades easy and convenient.

What’s more, if your community is playing in the clean energy arena, you have the opportunity for creative involvement by joining – or creating – a local Task Force or committee. Your town may have one. It may be chartered by local government or formed by citizens to advise or advocate for clean energy innovations. Energy task forces and committees are the engines of local innovation in the Connecticut energy scene.

This Guide serves those groups, and everyone who is motivated to develop good local clean energy projects in the state of Connecticut. Drawing on the experience of some of the most effective and committed local clean energy leaders over a decade, we offer guidance on how to form and operate local energy groups and achieve concrete goals in energy-efficiency, renewable power, and sustainable development. Authored by Clean Water Action in close collaboration with a statewide leadership network of high-performing energy task force leaders, this publication shows you successful approaches you are encouraged to try and adapt in your own community. Clean Water has been a familiar player in the Connecticut energy scene for a decade, beginning with our successful “Dirty Dozen” power plant cleanup campaign. Today we are bringing you a Delightful Dozen success models for local clean energy development that can be adapted for every community.

Transforming the energy systems of our communities to make full use of the efficiencies available today, and to participate in the renewable energy revolution, is not something that can be done by a committee acting in isolation. It will take dynamic leadership, experimentation, creative problem-solving and tenacity. We are pleased to share the experiences and insights in these pages, to speed your progress, smooth your path and encourage bold vision.

Understanding Connecticut’s Clean Energy Programs

Connecticut was one of the earliest states to create a Climate Action Plan in 2006. As the mechanism for effective implementation, in 2007 the state established a program called Clean Energy Communities, which builds local commitments to clean energy and supports them with technical assistance, incentive grants, recognition awards and structured programs. The state of Connecticut, through its Green Bank, also provides competitive financing in the form of loans for residential and commercial energy upgrades.

Municipalities can opt into the Clean Energy Communities program by making a commitment to energy conservation and to securing more and more of their energy from renewable sources each year in keeping with a specific timeline detailed on the program’s website (www.energizect.com/communities). The commitments include reducing schools' and municipal buildings' energy use by 20% (from a selected baseline year) by 2018 in yearly increments (for example, achieving an 11% reduction by June 30, 2016). They also include voluntary increases in municipal electricity sourced from renewable energy up to 20% by 2018, and reaching 18% by June 30, 2016. Most communities clearly have work to do, and that work is ongoing.

Skills and Sensibilities for Local Success

Connecticut’s Clean Energy Task Force structure is sophisticated and filled with potential for local innovation. It puts the onus of responsibility on the local groups, including the responsibility to get governmental agencies, boards and staff aligned to support achieving clean energy goals. As a result, it is strategic, political, and complex.

Most of the members of Clean Energy Task Forces are selected for a combination of technical, financial and organizational skills, combined with interest, commitment, and stature in the community. But the combination of available talent may or may not add up to the well coordinated, high-impact team you want to become. Even the most knowledgeable, inspired individuals need to learn to function as a group and develop common approaches to their action agendas. As a group, you need to understand a lot:

  • public finance and local policy;
  • energy infrastructure and technologies;
  • project development and coordination;
  • finding and managing money;
  • and how to build consensus for proposals to achieve results.

Most of all, you need to have a solid sense of the way things actually get done in your city, town or village, and the subtle skills to bring your influence to bear.

Few teams start out with all these qualities and with the chemistry to work together effectively. It usually requires active engagement with each other and the opportunities at hand. Cycles of activity and reflection can be a real asset in helping your working relationships to mature and identifying areas where growth is needed. The work before you is substantial, and – even if you make maximum use of the models presented here - much is unique to your local situation. The best local energy task forces have a plan, but implement it through a courageous form of trial-and-error, choosing bold experiments yet negotiating their steps carefully to build support as they go. If you concentrate on balancing results with relationships in your local work, it will be hard to lose.

Resources

 

Community Updates

WOODSTOCK’S NEW 1MW SOLAR ARRAY
PROJECTED TO SAVE OVER 2.4 MILLION OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS

Woodstock is currently in the process of installing their 1MW solar array.  The array will be a brownfield installation covering, what once was, their former landfill.  Concrete ballasts will weigh down the panel's framework to prevent any breach of the landfill's membrane... See Press Release

HES COPAY PRICE INCREASE

In the recent approval of the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management (CL&M) Plan by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there is good news and not-so-good news... Read More

 

 

Calendar Highlights

FALL GATHERING

HIGHLIGHTS OF CT’s FALL GATHERING of clean energy task forces can be found here in our Knowledge Center’s Program Archives pages. Diane Duva (the Director of Energy Demand at DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy is pictured here) facilitating the shaping of our state’s energy future.

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Clean Energy Communities Listening Session Letter of Thanks and Follow-up

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