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Town weighs options on wood heat

PUTNEY—At the Dec. 16 regular Selectboard meeting, Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard shared information she received from the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) about the Windham Wood Heat Initiative.

She said officials with the WRC made recommendations for Putney’s Town Hall and Fire Department buildings.

According to the WRC’s website, ”This $1.6 million program-funded through of the state’s settlement agreement with Entergy Vermont Yankee via the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF)-will assist municipal and school buildings convert to heating with local, sustainable wood while addressing those buildings’ energy efficiency and durability needs.”

Stoddard said for Putney, this meant wood pellet furnaces. She told the board the WRC required energy audits of the buildings, but she noted the Town Hall had already received two energy audits.

Because one of those audits was done recently, Stoddard said she would see if that one “translates” to the initiative’s specifications.

One concern Stoddard raised is cost. She said WRC will pay 75 percent of the assessment, but only 25 percent of the construction costs to install wood pellet furnaces in the town’s buildings.

“There’s money available,” she said, “but for the construction piece, not a whole lot."

Stoddard suggested waiting to see what the Historical Society wants to do with the Town Hall building’s second floor, because that could provide the town with access to “a whole other pocket of money available to help us upgrade."

Because she is in the middle of budget season for fiscal year 2017, Stoddard said she wants to “hold off” until that is over before conducting further research into the Windham Wood Heat Initiative.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #338 (Wednesday, January 6, 2016). This story appeared on page C3.

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