April 4, 6:00 pm:
April 6, 6:00 pm:
April 10, 12:00 pm:
April 10, 4:30 pm:
April 11, 7:00 pm
April 12, 2:00 pm:
April 13, 4:30 pm:
April 17, 12:00 pm:
April 18, 5:30 pm:
April 19, 3:00 pm:
April 24, 12:00 pm:
**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.
**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.
UPCOMING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
National Endowment for the Arts
DEADLINE: May 4, 2017
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE: Rolling (Seed Grant)
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
DEADLINE: May 1, 2017
Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE: May 16, & August 17, 2017
Upcoming Grants will
be a regular column in the
WRC Newsletter, for
for your projects
please contact Susan at
WRC Receives Impressive Spread of Renewable Energy Applications
The Windham Regional Commission received funding from the Clean Energy Development Fund to create a renewable energy grant program in Windham County. At the end of March, WRC received 12 applications from around the county. The projects ranged from rooftop solar installations, to biomass combined heat and electricity, to anaerobic digesters, incorporating education, economic development, heavily impacted sites, and efficiency measures. The total requested amount far exceeded the program's budget by totaling to just over one million dollars. Grant awards will be announced later this month.
Three Towns receive regional approval of their Town Plans
Three region towns submitted their latest Town Plans to the WRC and requested regional commission review and approval. The towns were: Winhall, Westminster, and Weston.
Town Plan peer review panels of Commissioners from other towns reviewed the plans and developed Findings, Recommendations, and Comments that were endorsed by the Planning Coordination Committee and forwarded to the WRC. The WRC subsequently approved the three Plans and confirmed the towns' planning processes. These actions make the towns eligible to apply for various grants and for formal state designation of Village Centers and Downtowns.
Local Emergency Operations Plans (LEOPs)
Due By May 1st
A friendly reminder that Local Emergency Operations Plans (LEOPs) are due on May 1, 2017 in order to meet the Vermont Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund and several public safety related grant requirements. There have been no modifications to the Base Plan for 2017, so municipalities should continue to use the Base Plan template that was released in 2016. Appendices are optional, but they serve as an additional resource for your municipality to enhance emergency preparedness. The LEOP requires the certifying individual to take ICS 402 or ICS 100. DEMHS is offering ICS 402 in Vernon on Monday April 24
from 5:45 to 8:45 PM. Course offerings are available on the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security
WRC Begins Municipal Energy Planning with Three Pilot Towns
As per Act 174's energy planning requirements, the Windham Regional Commission is beginning the process of working with three of its member-towns in developing an enhanced energy element in their town plans that meet these new state standards.
Because the new municipal planning standards put forth by Act 174 are so robust, towns may need technical assistance from their RPCs. The overall process and outline for this planning partnership has yet to be completely structured so the WRC is piloting this effort with the three towns: Vernon, Westminster, and Londonderry. These towns have demonstrated that they are ready to complete a "deep dive" into their energy usage and needs, and develop a comprehensive energy plan that addresses land-use planning, transportation systems, building efficiencies, and energy generation.. The resulting town plan policies will need to be "internally consistent" within the different planning elements.
This municipal energy planning pilot project began in March 2017, and the WRC team aims to help the three towns to have a completed draft of their enhanced energy element by the end of June. During this time, the WRC will provide technical assistance in the form of current energy use calculations, target calculations for energy efficiency and potentially generation, and resource mapping to the Vernon, Westminster, and Londonderry energy planning teams (all other towns can expect similar data and maps by the end of April).
All this technical data will result in more informed energy-related policies that are created by (and specific to) each town, and reflect the most appropriate pathways for that community. From this pilot process, the WRC will develop a best practices guide that will inform how best to work with other municipalities in their energy planning.
SAVE THE DATE
Facilitating Economic Development in Villages and Downtowns
May 18th @ 7:00 p.m.
Rivers & Roads Program Wraps up 5-Years of Success
In October 2016, three WRC staff members walked into the town garage in Wilmington, along with road crew members and foremen from the state's towns, additional planners from other municipalities, town officials, and conservation district managers. A slideshow presentation was set-up, but there were also a pair of flume tables, or tables designed to demonstrate stream and river processes using pumped water and sand. And on the agenda for the training was a significant amount of time in the field, along stream banks and river and road conflict areas.
This was the Rivers and Roads training, a comprehensive program mandated by the Vermont Legislature and developed by Vermont ANR in cooperation with VTrans that explains the workings of rivers and how to design, construct and maintain roads and bridges to create greater river stability and more flood resilient transportation infrastructure.
Launched after Tropical Storm Irene, the program has recently released its 5-year progress report (see below). The trainers who have designed and hosted these trainings have noticed great success, and have received wide-spread enthusiasm and support for the continuation of the program. They attribute their success to two key factors:
First, the training is aimed at a wider-audience, and more specifically it acknowledges the important role of road crews and foremen in helping to better manage our water bodies. The road crews were observed to be the "first responders" during tropical storm Irene, and are often the ones who have the most intimate knowledge of our region's roadways and stream/road conflicts. The training taps into their unrivaled knowledge of their town's roads, (plus their construction and maintenance) and adds an in-depth understanding of fluvial processes and how they interact with our rights-of-way. The Rivers and Roads training aims to share the nuanced knowledge of stream processes with the road foremen so that they may continue to make the best possible decisions for road construction and maintenance as it relates to stormwater drainage and stream conflicts.
Second, the program also approaches education in a more holistic way. Slideshow presentations represent one-third of the training program, which benefits those who may learn better by verbally discussing these stream dynamics. But the program allocates a significant amount of time around flume tables and in the field, visiting a variety of locations at different points in the watershed and at different stream/road conflicts. This careful combination of learning experiences helps to reinforce the basic ideas surrounding rivers, roads, and how they impact flood resiliency.
The WRC encourages its member towns to take advantage of this program that is quickly becoming a model for how a state can productively work with its municipalities to empower local-decision makers and make our region more flood-ready. See the links below for more information or to register for an upcoming training:
WRC Planners Attend 2017 Leahy Summit with Green River Project Partners
The 2017 Leahy Summit was hosted at the ECHO Center in Burlington, on March 24-25. The intent of the meeting was to bring together project groups and partners that have a watershed resilience-related project idea that they'd like to pursue. The two-day meeting was primarily a working session, as attending project partners were facilitated through a series of exercises that encouraged the teams to reflect on their goals, identify community needs, and begin to develop an action plan for carrying out their projects and to have a plan with which they can receive funding.
Marion Major and Emily Davis from the WRC attended the Summit to focus on the Green River Watershed Alliance, a budding watershed collaborative that includes the towns of Halifax, Guilford, and Marlboro. The project team hopes to apply for funding from the High Meadows Fund's Watershed Resilience Grant to launch this group and begin on implementing projects. The planners were joined by other project partners from the VT Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Rivers Conservancy, Windham Country Natural Resources Conservation District, Vermont Performance Lab, and the Connecticut River Watershed Council.
Through the process, the Green River watershed team was able to develop a working project scope, goals, main programmatic elements, and preliminary desired results and outcomes. The fundamental purpose of the collaborative is to support a better relationship with the river and with each other, and through that simplified intention we create a sense of place and community cohesion that in turn make the watershed more resilient to future disturbances.
The overarching project goals of the Green River Watershed Alliance are to:
- Enhance flood resiliency; through supporting long-term community-based resilience.
- Support community cohesion; through creating cooperative and lasting relationships between the watershed towns.
- Establish a watershed identity; by creating cultural connections between people and their place.
- Improve water quality; by implementing ecological restoration and conservation projects, and supporting an improved relationship with the Green River.
The three main programs of the collaborative will be:
planning, conservation and restoration
. These three implementation categories were identified because they are a logical way to organize smaller projects and desired outcomes, and can be lead by a smaller team or group of people. They will also directly inform and support the overarching project goals.
Following the Summit, the planning team will go back to the town's Planning Commissions, Selectboards, and Conservation Commissions to further develop these ideas and to receive feedback on how the Green River Watershed Alliance will best serve and advance their town's goals, while also improving flood resilience for all. After receiving feedback and support from the towns, they will then pursue grant funding to help catalyze these efforts.
Windham Regional Commission Expands Windham Wood Heat Incentive Eligibility to Public Serving Institutions
The Windham Wood Heat Initiative program has transferred to the Windham Regional Commission. This $1.6 million program, which was initiated in 2015, offers technical and financial assistance to at least 20 municipal, school, and now public service institution buildings to convert to heating with local, sustainable wood while addressing those buildings' energy efficiency and durability needs. The program is supported through funding made available through the settlement agreement arrived at between the state and Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee. The program also includes public education, training for local building professionals, fuel supply procurement and other elements needed to make Windham County a long-term hub of advanced wood heat technology and practice.
Towns, schools, and public serving institutions are eligible for advanced wood heat assessments and energy and building envelope analyses. Buildings selected for participation in the program will get one-on-one coaching through the project development, bid review, budget, and public approval process, plus incentives of 25% of the installation cost of the boiler system (with a maximum of $75,000) and an added 10% of that installation cost if the buildings pursue energy conservation measures outlined in the audit report (with a maximum of $25,000).
Lots of Energy on the Energy Front!
We encourage town officials, town volunteers and the general public to get involved. Here's just some of what's going on:
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing of the hydropower dams on the Connecticut River in Vernon, Bellows Falls and Wilder, currently owned by TransCanada but which are being sold to ArcLight Capital Partners/Big River Hydro. The Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Facility in Northfield, Massachusetts is also in the midst of the FERC relicensing process. Its operation impacts Vernon.
The proposed sale of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee to NorthStar for the purpose of decommissioning and site restoration is currently the subject of both U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Vermont Public Service Board proceedings.
The PSB hearing on the proposed sale of Entergy Vermont Yankee was well-attended.
- There are a number of utility-scale solar projects under development or being considered by the Public Service Board. The WRC reviews these and all energy projects through our Project Review Committee.
- The Windham County Renewable Energy Program was developed by the WRC using Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) money earmarked for Windham County through the settlement agreement arrived at between the state and Entergy Vermont Yankee. Through this program we are providing grants for renewable energy development projects for municipal, neighborhood-scale and economic development-related projects.
- The Windham Wood Heat Program also uses CEDF funding to provide technical assistance, auditing, and commissioning services for schools, municipal buildings, and public serving institutions to convert to modern wood heating systems.
- The WRC is in the process of developing a regional energy plan element, and updated regional plan, that would meet the standards established under Act 174 (http://windhamregional.org/energy/act-174-energy-planning). We are also piloting the development of Act 174-compliant town energy plan elements with the towns of Londonderry, Westminster and Vernon.
If you'd like to know more about any of these activities, email us at
and we'll put you in contact with the lead staff person.