Hartford's Energy Challenge—Cut Usage 15 Percent (per capita) by 2025

Private citizens can help Hartford reach its energy goals.

On Monday, June 18 Hartford will hold the second of five public forums in conjunction with a rewrite of the town plan. Monday's meeting, starting at 6:30 at The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee, will focus on energy and transportation. We all know how town plans relate to open land, farms, stores and other issues related to development. But what part will energy play in Hartford's new town plan? We contacted Hartford Energy Coordinator Geoff Martin for the answer and learned that an energy chapter in the town plan is not just a good idea—it's the law.

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 The Observer:  Why and when did  "energy" become so important in town planning?

Martin:  In 2016, the state published its Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP), designed to put the state on a path to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce energy use, and dramatically increase the use of renewable energy. The specific goals are as follows:

*Meet 25% of the remaining energy need from renewable sources by 2025, 40% by 2035, and 90% by 2050. 
*Reduce GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% to 95% below 1990 levels by 2050.
*Reduce total energy consumption per capita by 15% by 2025, and by more than one third by 2050. 
*Meet these three end-use sector goals for 2025: 10% renewable transportation, 30% renewable buildings, and 67% renewable electric power. 

The state expects each town to do its part to reach these goals, and develop a plan that puts each town on a path towards achieving them. Hartford must, therefore, include in its plan strategies and actions in the transportation, buildings, and electricity sectors that reduce energy use and increase the use of renewable energy at the pace set out in the state's CEP.

The Observer:  What trends have impacted the energy sector since the last town plan was published in 2014?

Martin: The state published its CEP in 2016, and the last Town Plan was published in 2014. The biggest change, therefore, is that Hartford needs to take even more aggressive action in order to meet the bold goals that the state has established. In addition to increasing the level of ambition, the update needs to focus more specifically on helping residents and businesses of Hartford achieve greater energy efficiency and use local renewable power. Finally, there has been a significant decrease in the cost of many important technologies, such as solar and electric vehicles, since the last town plan. 

The Observer: What input are you looking for from the average citizen? 

Martin: We need to know a number of things from citizens. First, we would like input on the solutions that can help Hartford move towards its energy goals. How can we reduce the number of vehicle-miles traveled by town residents, or the amount of energy (and money) required to heat your home? Secondly, we would like to understand what you think are barriers to reaching Hartford's energy goals. Are energy projects like weatherization or solar too expensive, or do you not feel you have enough information to feel comfortable making the investment? Finally, what can be done to help you overcome those barriers? The input we get from residents at this meeting will help shape what strategies Hartford focuses on to move the municipality and its residents to a clean, sustainable future.  

The Observer:  How can citizens help the town reach its goals in this sector?

Martin: Citizens play a huge role in meeting town goals. While municipal operations certainly consume energy, the bulk of energy used in Hartford, whether that's gas used for commuting, electricity used for powering homes, or fuel burned to heat buildings, is used by residents and businesses. Hartford cannot come close to meeting its goals without the direct participation of citizens and business owners. We need your input to make sure the town has the appropriate policies and programs in place to make participation as easy as possible. 

Hartford's planners encourage citizens to speak up about the new town plan. Here's the list of upcoming forums.

Energy and Transportation,  Monday, June 25 at 6:30 PM at VINS

Community Facilities/Services/Historic Preservation Wednesday, July 11 at 6:30 PM at West Hartford Library.

Natural Resources and Land Use, Monday, July 16 at 6:30 PM at West Hartford Dothan Brook School

Housing and Economic Development, Monday, July 23 at 6:30 PM at the Town Hall. 

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