Woodstock Energy Coordinator’s Accomplishments

By Jenevra Wetmore

Bluebird Vision 2020 Electric Bus. Photo Credit: This untouched photo is used under the Creative Commons License 4.0. UniversityRailroad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

The Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (IREC) position has been working to meet Woodstock’s energy goals since 2020. In 2020 Woodstock passed a Climate Emergency and Action Resolution, with a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. This declaration meant that we as a town were taking this issue seriously and willing to put time, money, and energy into solving it. This spring Jeff Grout assumed the IREC role, which is run through Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC). As we near the end of 2023, we would like to highlight the many accomplishments of the IREC position, and to look ahead to what is coming in 2024.

The IREC position serves Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Woodstock, Norwich and Bradford. Each town has a member on the steering committee, which guides the IREC’s focus. The work of the IREC is to lessen overall energy use, lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and move to renewable generation of electricity, all while seeking long term cost savings. Woodstock joined the IREC program in 2020, the program’s first year, and thanks to the ongoing support of Woodstock residents and the Selectboard, continued its participation in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

The IREC monitors our municipal GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions to understand where the town’s emissions are coming from and track progress towards the town’s net-zero by 2030 goal. As a step toward reaching that goal, the IREC developed a proposal to reduce emissions by 12.5% annually by installing new technologies such as heat pumps in municipal buildings and weatherizing. The voters approved the financing for these projects at Town Meeting last March, and the Select Board then approved the proposal. These upgrades will be completed by the end of this year and, once they are done, the majority of town buildings will then no longer use fossil fuel as a primary heat source. The IREC also collaborated with Fire Chief David Green, Efficiency Vermont, and Sustainable Woodstock on the renovations at the Public Safety Facility. As a result, the town is avoiding over 80% of the emissions that the propane system in the original renovation design would have produced.

Woodstock will begin to realize the energy savings from these projects this year, with the highest savings achieved during the heating season. The IREC will be tracking energy use and GHG emissions against the current baseline to verify energy savings. The new Direct Digital Controls (DDC) will allow each building’s energy use to be monitored and controlled. During the upcoming year, the IREC will work with the Town to monitor the buildings and optimize energy savings.

In addition to lowering building emissions, The IREC position has also taken action to reduce transportation emissions, which are the biggest generator of carbon emissions in Vermont. Two all-electric school buses, paid for entirely by a successful $1.6 million application to the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, will soon be transporting Woodstock High School students to and from school. An additional grant was received that will cover nearly half of the cost for the new charging infrastructure at the high school to support the new buses, as well as space for future projects to provide public EV charging.

Most recently, the IREC applied for an was awarded a $4,000 mini grant as well as a state-funded energy assessment for the Woodstock Town Hall valued at approximately $20,000. These grants are through the state’s Municipal Energy Resilience Program (MERP). Once the energy assessment of Town Hall has been completed, we will be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $500,000 to pay for energy upgrades to Town Hall.

Woodstock voters have shown again and again that climate action is a priority to our town. The 2020 Woodstock Climate Emergency and Action Resolution is proof of this, as was the vote last March to reduce GHG emissions in our municipal buildings by 12.5% annually through weatherizing and installing new technologies such as heat pumps. With your support, we hope to continue this important climate work with the invaluable help of the IREC position.


Learn more about our Vermont Standard articles.