Shaftsbury resident seeks to get renewable energy resolution on ballot

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SHAFTSBURY — A citizen of Shaftsbury has asked the Select Board to consider endorsing an article for Town Meeting that would express the town's commitment to renewable energy.

Lynn Sternberg spoke before the board last week and asked them to consider the resolution, which was drafted as part of 350Vermont's "(Re)Generate New Solutions Campaign." Sternberg will need to get signatures from 5 percent of the town's voters, about 130 signatures according to the most recent state election report, in order for the resolution to appear on the ballot.

The resolution reads "Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Town will do our part to meet these demands by committing to efforts such as: Protecting town lands from fossil fuel infrastructure, denying easements or agreements for any pipelines crossing town lands; Weatherizing town buildings and schools; Enlisting state support to install roof-top solar on town and school buildings; Or other initiatives to improve residents' quality of life while helping us reduce overall energy use."

Chairman Tim Scoggins said that the board would review the resolution and discuss at a future meeting whether or not to endorse it. "It's more of a statement of intent, there aren't any hard requirements put on the town here," he said.

350Vermont's website explains the campaign to have the resolution adopted at as many town meetings as possible. "In 2011, the Vermont Department of Public Service established a Comprehensive Energy Plan that set out to power Vermont by 90 percent renewables by 2050. As of now, Vermont is far from meeting this goal. In fact, a recently released report from the United Nations shows that the worldwide effort to stem greenhouse gases has fallen short of the goal set by the Paris Climate agreement. We need to do more at the state and national level to decarbonize the atmosphere and build momentum towards renewables. That's what 350VT's Town Meeting Day Resolution Campaign is all about! This campaign is about coming up with solutions to get Vermont off fossil fuels and make a fair and equitable transition towards renewable energy, electric vehicles, improved public transportation, and no more fossil fuel pipelines! This campaign is about towns making the commitment on Town Meeting day to do all they can to move Vermont towards renewable communities."

Planning Commission Chairman Chris Williams spoke about the town's energy future later in the meeting. "As I read the (Bennington County Regional Commission's Regional Energy Plan) and really thought about what it implied, I thought, wow, there is nothing in our community that's going to tip over life as usual as much as energy. If the 2050 vision of 90 percent renewables comes to pass, then all the fuel oil dealers will go out of business, all the gas stations will go out of business, we'll start to produce more biodiesel, we'll somehow move our transportation infrastructure into electric... I couldn't think of anything that would be more transformative than this process.

"We know change makes people queasy," he said, "and there'll be pushback, people will have differing opinions, but the assumption behind the county-wide energy plan is really that it's market-based, the cost of rising oil prices, reflected in diesel, and gasoline, and fuel oil for home heating, will be such that the market situation will force a lot of the change."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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