Tad Montgomery

Not about the money

A few thoughts for Brattleboro on the roles, responsibilities, and promise of its new sustainability coordinator position, from a former resident who now works as energy and facilities manager for Lebanon, N.H.

I watched live online on Aug. 20 as Brattleboro crystalized its decision to invest in sustainability. The Selectboard's vote to create a sustainability coordinator brought a smile to my face as I thought of all the people who have worked for decades to bring the town to this point. Whether it is too little, or too late, or perhaps even too much, only time will tell.

A quick look at the position's description shows that the person who steps into the role will have an extraordinary amount hoisted onto their shoulders, from carbon neutrality to social justice, homelessness, the opioid crisis, economic equity, and preparing the town for unimaginable changes in our climate.

On top of all this, there will be residents and staff who expect this person to justify the position through savings to the town.

I have been asked by a number of people to chime in on this decision. I do so reluctantly, as a non-resident, but as someone who knows and loves Brattleboro and works in this field.

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Solution to a commuting riddle

Can a vanpool from Brattleboro to the Upper Valley get employees to and from work there and cut greenhouse-gas emissions? Let’s try it.

On Jan. 2, my first day of work as energy and facilities manager for the small city of Lebanon, N.H. (pronounced “Leb'-nin” by locals), my car died at the base of Mount Ascutney. I assumed at the time that it was remnant biodiesel in the engine clogging the fuel...

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Killing the wind

Friends of wind power dominate a Bennington hearing of the Public Service Board on proposed regulations that would effectively ban new wind power in our state

On May 1, George Harvey, Tom Finnell, and I drove over the foggy Green Mountains to Bennington to attend a Public Service Board hearing on proposed new regulations for wind power in Vermont. The new rules would set a noise standard of 42 decibels (dB) during the day and...

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Scott shows no interest in burgeoning green economy

Phil Scott, the Republican candidate for governor, says he is pro-jobs and pro-business, but he has repeatedly shown a negative interest in one of Vermont's fastest growing sectors: renewable energy. Since Scott's campaign has received significant funding from the fossil-fuel industry, including the infamous Koch brothers, I cannot help but wonder what is going on there. We have a fledgling green economy initiative growing in southern Vermont, and it is very exciting. Its success will be strongly influenced by the...

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Summit seizes on the economic potential of climate change

On a bright February day, more than 400 Vermonters converged in Randolph to contemplate climate change and the production of lemonade. The summit that brought them together was designed to look for economic opportunities from dealing with this looming global problem, and there are many opportunities indeed. Breakout groups included legislators, utility leaders, youth, business leaders, investors, the working lands community, and a municipal action panel that included Brattleboro's Peter Elwell. Alongside Elwell were the mayors of Rutland, which has...

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Selling the right to use green-energy adjectives

There is a lot of confusion about solar energy's Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) program these days, especially in light of the Vermont Attorney General's recent warning that a number of solar companies might have engaged in false advertising. At issue is whether the panels that you, or your neighbor, or your business just paid for in a net metered or community solar array can be said to be generating solar power for you. They are not, at least not if...

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Two messages that could not have painted a starker contrast

On Oct. 6, former Vice President Al Gore gave an updated showing of his Inconvenient Truth climate change presentation at the University of Vermont. Gore commended Vermont's political leaders and the state for leading the country in the development of renewable energy, and he also told the packed audience that we “need to put a price on carbon [pollution].” Two days later, roughly 30 protesters lined busy Williston Avenue in South Burlington to protest as the Renewable Energy Vermont (REV)

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PACE program brings energy-efficiency within reach of homeowners

Home loans for energy efficiency improvements at no or low interest are now approved for Brattleboro residents, with neighboring towns already implementing the program or on track to bring it to their residents as well. The final hurdle for the implementation of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program was cleared at the April 28 Brattleboro Selectboard meeting. PACE is a clunky term for a new financing tool that turns home energy improvements into a no-brainer for many homeowners. Furthermore,

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