Clean Energy Committee Tackles Energy Waste One Step at a Time

by Kate O’Farrell, UVM Community News Service

HARDWICK – If you’ve seen Bill Chidsey biking around town and observing town buildings, you’ve witnessed the beginning of the Hardwick Clean Energy Committee.

The committee was formed in August of this year by Chidsey, who recently moved to Hardwick. Chidsey wanted to form the committee as, he said, “energy conservation and efficiency have been a life-long passion for me.”

Chidsey has worked in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning business since 1979, and took that experience, as well as his desire to volunteer in Hardwick, to form the committee. In August, he sent a request to be the energy coordinator of Hardwick, and on August 19, the select board officially approved his position.

The committee is concerned with practical ways to reduce energy waste and consumption in Hardwick. Chidsey outlined a three- step process that would “use the municipal buildings as projects to train energy committee members how to do the work, and then be able to duplicate that in the larger community.”

The first action taken by the Clean Energy Committee was Chidsey himself taking stock of the energy consumption in town buildings. As for the results of this initial look? Although he’s impressed with the state of the town’s municipal buildings, nothing is perfect. “All I can say is there’s plenty of opportunities for improvement.” Chidsey said.

He then gained permission from the town’s business manager to reach out to the companies supplying energy to the town buildings and received company delivery records.

Chidsey plans to repeat the same process this month with electric consumption in the town, and eventually train committee members so that the Clean Energy Committee can begin to assess the greater community’s energy consumption and waste.

As far as addressing energy waste in the town buildings, the easiest step, in Chidsey’s words, is to “understand the schedules and occupancy of every municipal building” in order to avoid unnecessary energy use.

Additionally, Chidsey has established monthly meetings with the town manager to further the practical action of the Clean Energy Committee. When speaking about the meetings, Chidsey said that the committee “can have ears to the ground of what the town manager’s concerns are and also begin the process of obtaining all the maintenance records for the buildings.”

The Energy Committee isn’t solely concerned with the present, as Chidsey has long-term goals in mind which involve the greater town community. “A longer-term goal would be, in my words, to have a skilled energy auditor on every block.” Additionally, Chidesy has thought about grants to further the goals of the committee. He believes “we are really just at the beginning of the resources” that will be tools to stop pollution.

Chidsey also wants to eventually reach out to students, saying that the committee wants to work “with high school students, tech school students, and college students.”

The Hardwick Clean Energy Committee had its first meeting in September and two residents participated. Because it is a town-sponsored committee, anyone who wants to become a member would have to go to the selectboard first.

Although the goals of the Committee aren’t limited to the day-to-day, Chidsey hopes to enact practical and visible change in Hardwick. As he says, “The goals and the work should produce tangible results for taxpayers and citizens.”

The committee meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.