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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Take only what you need, use what you take

When we built our house in Warren, nearly every appliance and light bulb we installed was “energy efficient.” A few years ago we installed a high-efficiency boiler, then came the insulated honeycomb blinds.

Thanks in part to Casella, we recycle nearly two-thirds of our waste. We compost our scraps and use them in our garden. We set the thermostats two degrees lower. A lot of us pick up hitchhikers. Some run veggie oil in their cars or own hybrid vehicles. Our farmers’ market and local food programs are thriving. We even have a walk-and-bike-to-work week. These pieces, and many others, make up the puzzle we could call being modern, sensible human beings: Take only what you need, use what you take.

Lately, it seems to be getting easier and easier to do the “right” thing. Last year a small group of Valley residents formed the Mad River Valley Energy Network and began drafting ideas to take advantage of some of the new realities. Our goal is simple -- to empower the local community to take responsibility for and ownership of their energy production, consumption and conservation. All the puzzle pieces are on the table: responsible utilities, group net metering laws, federal tax credits, increased efficiency, dropping solar panel costs and forward-thinking landowners. All we have to do is take some time and put them together.

It is now possible to develop larger scale community renewable energy production that we can all be a part of. The investment model we are developing would allow an initial investment of as little as $1,000 to buy a single solar panel. You would be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit and get monthly credit on your electric bill for your share of the energy produced. Ideally in 7 to 10 years, your $1,000 investment will have been returned while the panels keep producing for another 15 to 18 years.  If you sell your house but stay in the same utility service area, you can move your investment to your new meter. If you move elsewhere, you can bundle the ownership with the sale of your property. Who knows, we may do the right thing for ourselves, our neighbors, our planet AND get a return on our investment. How great will that be?

You can help us take the next step by spending five minutes on a simple survey at http://mrve.net/survey.

Steve Butcher
Mad River Valley, Vermont
Charter Member - MRVE.Ne



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