Matt Dion, the plant manager of Adams North Barre, shows Efficiency Vermont’s Liz Gamache and Josh Kelman around the granite shed.

Rock-solid partnership forms with granite manufacturer

It seems simple, but it bears repeating: Keeping costs down helps Vermont businesses succeed, and energy is one of those costs. We can help business owners reduce that cost with energy efficiency solutions, and strengthen storied Vermont industries like granite manufacturing in Barre. The granite industry in Barre reaches as far back as the early 1800s, and it expanded in 1875, when the central railroad reached Vermont. As the granite industry grew, so did the city of Barre. Yet the granite industry is not thriving as it once was.

Greenbanc founder North Lennox works at the GMP Inspire Space in Colchester.

Small business moves to Vt. via Inspire Space

COLCHESTER — Through a recent contest, the energy-assessment company Greenbanc became one of five entrepreneurs to share space and work alongside the Green Mountain Power team in GMP’s Inspire Space. The Inspire Space is an area located inside GMP’s Colchester headquarters meant to attract and support energy entrepreneurs and open the door to ways they can collaborate with the utility. Like GMP, Greenbanc is a certified B Corp, meaning it values making a positive social and environmental impact and meets certain standards in those areas. The nonprofit B Lab gives the B Corp certification, based on criteria that need to be met. Greenbanc was the fifth business to get involved with the Inspire Space, after founder North Lennox heard about the recent contest when he was living in New York.

At left, V. Chase, recent candidate for state representative from Chittenden District 8-1 (Essex), discusses higher education with Juli Heisler from the University of Vermont.

VEIC hosts legislative networking event

BURLINGTON — Vermont Energy Investment Corp. welcomed the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce Legislative Networking event to its headquarters in Burlington’s South End in late October. Chamber members and guests got the opportunity to talk with candidates for Vermont’s legislature and other statewide offices (about 30 candidates attended), and the chance for some business-to-business networking. In addition to Vermont Energy Investment Corp., or VEIC, sponsors included AT&T, FairPoint Communications, Farrell Distributing, Green Mountain Power, Pomerleau Real Estate and Top Hat Entertainment. Sugarsnap of South Burlington catered the event.

Brian Godnick, owner of Godnick’s Grand Furniture in Rutland, stands with his son, Brent, who is the fourth generation to work in the family business. They expect new heat pumps to help them cut back on energy costs year-round.

Vt. warming up to heat pumps

Godnick’s Grand Furniture in Rutland is now home to Green Mountain Power’s largest installation of heat pumps, which have helped boost energy savings for a number of customers in recent years. GMP recently installed 20 of these hyper-efficient, ductless heat pump heads at Godnick’s, where they’re estimated to reduce fuel usage by 40 percent during the heating season. The heat pumps are also expected to save the business about 30 percent in electricity consumed by air conditioning in the summer. The heat pumps transfer air from the outdoors to heat the building, and in the summer, they transfer heat out to cool the building — making them far more cost-effective than traditional heating and AC systems.

Brian Godnick, owner of Godnick’s Grand Furniture, said the business had a 40-year-old air conditioning system which it hadn’t used in a few years, since it is highly inefficient. “It was old, not feasible to run,” he said.

From left, Efficiency Vermont energy consultant Ethan Bellevance talks with Bill Suhr, the owner of Champlain Orchards.

Moving business forward with energy efficiency

Energy keeps Vermont businesses running, helping them create good jobs for Vermonters and grow the state’s economy. As a business grows, so can its appetite for energy — and the accompanying energy bill will grow, too. Businesses in Vermont are looking for ways to reduce energy costs. This is where efficiency can offer a clear opportunity for businesses, and here at Efficiency Vermont, we are eager to be a partner in helping business leaders to seize that opportunity. Businesses can reap wonderful benefits from energy savings.

SunCommon hires 2 execs

WATERBURY — SunCommon recently added two new hires to its leadership team, as it prepares to launch several new products and programs.

Tom Berry joins SunCommon as the new vice president of marketing and sales, and Jim Merriam is the new vice president of operations. Berry most recently worked for Keurig Green Mountain and was previously with Burton Snowboards. Merriam used to work for the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. The new duo is leading SunCommon through the launch of a small-business program, a new installation technology partnership and an innovative solar product: the Solar Canopy.  

 

Report: ZEVs could have $300M impact in Vt.

A multistate goal to make all new cars sold zero-emission by 2050 would save Vermont over $300 million in health costs and other impacts of pollution, according to a recent report from the American Lung Association in California. Vermont and California are part of a group of 10 states that signed a memorandum of understanding to meet the 2050 goal on zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Eight of those states, including Vermont and California, signed onto the memorandum at the climate accord in Paris in December. Vermont is also one of eight states that signed a 2013 agreement to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in those states by 2025. “It’s all a recognition that we all need to do more, and we need to do more pollution reduction to secure a stable climate and a healthy future,” said William Barrett, senior policy analyst for the American Lung Association in California.

73-panel solar project completed

RUTLAND TOWN – SunCommon recently completed a 73-panel, 19,345-kilowatt solar system on the roof of Vermont Bedrooms in Rutland Town. Bill Beanland, co-owner of Vermont Bedrooms, said the company is “always looking for ways to cut costs and save energy.”
He noted the business previously cut its electric bill in half when the bulbs in its more than 70 spotlights throughout the store were replaced with LED bulbs.  

Harpoon Brewery, which recently hosted an event for Efficiency Vermont, is shown here at its Windsor location.

Vt. brewers saving big on energy

Beer matters in Vermont. Not only do we have more breweries per capita than any other state, we also consume 25 percent more beer than the national average per capita. That’s not surprising — if everyone else’s beer was as good as Vermont’s, they’d drink more of it too. The brewery industry is also an increasingly important part of Vermont’s economy. According to a study released last year by the Vermont Brewers Association, “Vermont’s brewing industry operations and investments, including food sales, other merchandise sales at breweries and brewpubs, and new plant and equipment capital expenditures, generates $199 million in total economic activity and 1,575 jobs in the state.

GMP expands battery storage program

Green Mountain Power is expanding its battery storage program to customers who install a solar system in their home through SunCommon. GMP and SunCommon have partnered to offer the storage device — called a Tesla Powerwall — for $37.50 a month. The battery storage device, which provides security during a power outage, is also available to GMP’s non-solar customers who get their power from the grid. “We’re willing to partner with any solar developer who wants to do this, but the partnership with SunCommon is the first of its kind with a solar developer in this state,” said GMP spokeswoman Kristin Carlson. The Tesla Powerwall stores a home’s solar energy for use during a power outage.