Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network

The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network — VECAN — is a collaborative of organizations that are working to start and support town energy committees across Vermont. VNRC and its partners in VECAN are working to help:

Build a more informed and involved public via community-based energy and climate action projects, develop capacity-building resources and provide technical assistance to help Vermont communities advance a more sustainable energy future.

VNRC serves as the coordinator of VECAN and works with other partners in the VECAN collaborative, including Community Climate Action, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Sustainable Energy Resource Group and the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.

VECAN’s purpose is to help form and empower energy and climate action committees, to provide programs and resources that will help committees implement energy-saving initiatives, and to establish a useful network that enables committees to learn from each other, share successes, and replicate and collaborate on programs.

WANT TO LEARN MORE  ABOUT VECAN?

Visit www.vecan.net

WANT TO START A TOWN ENERGY COMMITTEE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

Contact VNRC’s Energy Program Director and VECAN Coordinator Johanna Miller to learn more. Call 802-223-2328 ext. 112 or email jmiller@vnrc.org.

VNRC can offer town energy committees and municipalities assistance on strengthening the ‘Energy Chapter’ of town or regional plans as well as help in organizing and sustaining a committee or a targeted campaign, communications and outreach support, information on and key opportunities to engage in important legislative efforts and other technical resources.

VECAN will also work to catalyze greater reforms at the state and national level by translating the momentum at the grassroots into demand for greater leadership on energy efficiency and renewables in higher-level public policy discussions.

Vermonters are expressing an urgent need to create and strengthen the institutional capacity of community-based energy committees. They need guidance, tools and resources on how to conserve energy, improve the efficiency of buildings and operations, reduce waste and switch to renewable power.

One important resource for communities interested in establishing, or currently working on, town energy committees is VECAN’s “Town Energy and Climate Action Guide.” The guide provides step-by-step information on how to establish an energy committee and also offers suggestions for state and local resources, funding, model bylaws and more.

VECAN is committed to establishment of a supportive and helpful network. The professionals within this collaborative bring a wealth of experience including 1) inspiring and motivating behavior change, 2) providing technical assistance, 3) offering tools for community energy assessments, 4) identifying incentives and grant-making opportunities for communities, and 5) designing and supporting special community-based projects.

Through VECAN, local committees will be empowered to assess problems, seek available programs and resources and implement energy-saving, greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. VECAN will also work to encourage replication of effective programs and collaboration between committees.

WHY?

Scientific experts indicate that we must stabilize greenhouse gas emission concentrations to 350 parts-per-million by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. Consequently, significant effort, investment, and rational policies are needed. VECAN and others want Vermonters to be more informed, to gain access to this problem and its solutions, and to understand the role community-based groups can play.

While numerous programs, resources, and organizations exist that encourage conservation, efficiency and sustainable use of renewable sources, the vehicle, process, and infrastructure are lacking to implement strategies at the local level. By serving as a resource ‘hub,’ where the spokes of Vermont’s energy ‘wheels’ can connect, VECAN fills a vital niche. VECAN provides the guidance, structure and resources to fill this void and connect people to the tools, models, and organizations that will help towns implement timely cost-saving, energy-reducing, green power-generating measures.

Communities across Vermont — from Burlington to Brattleboro and beyond — have formed town energy and climate action committees. Approximately 100 towns now have committees and are implementing energy-saving, carbond-reducing strategies to help ensure a healthy, prosperous, and energy-independent Vermont.

VECAN can help make this possible. VECAN’s network of partners and service providers are ready to offer new and existing groups with fresh ideas, experiences, lessons learned and resources. VECAN’s value is in helping to coordinate, foster, facilitate and inspire committees in towns throughout Vermont.

VECAN is collaborating with numerous statewide organizations to expand this effort, including the Vermont Interfaith Power & Light, Vermont Energy Education Program, Vermont Peak Oil Network, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermont Sierra Club, and others.

Below are brief descriptions of the five founding VECAN partners.

About the Organizations Involved:

Community Climate Action formed out of the Alliance for Climate Action, a group of local, regional, and state-level government agencies and non-profits, founded in 2000, develops tools and strategies that help households, businesses and institutions implement solutions to climate change. Through the award-winning 10% Challenge program, the ACA provides a vital link between its partner service providers and end-users as well as outreach to community groups and schools across Vermont and beyond. Coordinated efforts with VECAN will enable ACA to achieve its target emissions reductions goals more efficiently. ACA will provide in-kind match and staff will provide consultation services and resources to interested communities to help build local capacity for sustained efforts to combat climate change in three sectors—transportation, solid waste and energy efficiency. Click here to learn more about ACA.

The Sustainable Energy Research Group, or SERG, has created a model of local energy, education and organizing though the formation of six town energy committees in Vermont and New Hampshire. SERG consults with these committees to implement energy conservation, efficiency and renewable programs, which help residents, businesses and the municipalities reduce energy consumption, save money, move toward renewables, strengthen the local economy and improve the environment. SERG will advance the VECAN initiative by providing the vital technical, hands-on experience necessary to form town energy committees and implement energy-save programs. Click here to learn more about SERG.

The New England Grassroots Environment Fund is a small grants program that supports community-based initiatives that are helping make New England a place where every citizen is inspired and empowered to participate in creating healthy, just, safe and environmentally sustainable communities — the places where we live, work and play. NEGEF is a grantmaker, an activist-funder collaborative, a resource center, a connector and a networker helping the New England environmental community strengthen its base. NEGEF’s contribution to the VECAN effort will be to provide seed grants to budding local energy/climate action committees and projects. Click here to learn more about NEGEF.

The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, founded in 1986, is a non-profit organization with approximately 90 employees. VEIC’s mission is to reduce the economic, social and environmental costs of energy consumption through the promotion of cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. VEIC will actively support and complement selected VECAN task efforts to help build successful community based projects. Click here to learn more about VEIC.

VNRC, founded nearly 50 years ago by farmers and foresters, has over 5,000 members and 2,000 activists who write letters, call legislators, attend public hearings and work at the local level to advance policies which safeguard Vermont’s environment, communities, and quality of life. VNRC’s mission is to protect and restore Vermont’s natural resources through research, collaboration, education and advocacy. For the VECAN project, VNRC’s grassroots organizing expertise, statewide reach, and strong connections to local and state decision makers and businesses will help to build the broad, diverse constituency necessary to develop and implement climate action plans. VNRC will use its unique ability to simplify complex issues, make them relevant and meaningful for people, and spur them to take action in their lives.