Posts Tagged "local"

Selling out already!

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Selling out already!

Construction is again underway in Townshend on another Vermont Community Solar project. Over the winter we drummed up enough interest and support that we are happy to announce this project is already selling out! We could not do this without our local community support. This includes our invaluable Soveren Team that go above and beyond to make these projects possible, our participants who are willing to take a chance on our unique program, and the good old fashioned word of mouth buzz that keeps the wheels turning in any small VT business. We are blessed to be able to continue this work for another installation season. There are many irons in the fire and we are continuously working towards a cleaner, more resilient Vermont. If you have any questions about what we are doing at Soveren or any of our up coming projects, please contact us at info(at)soverensolar(dot)com or use the Contact page. You can also call and talk to a real person at (802) 869-2500. Happy May day!  ...

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FTC Won’t Investigate GMP

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In the past few years Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) have become a heated topic in Vermont. So much so, that it peaked the interest of Vermont Law School (VLS) and elicited a letter from the Vermont Attorney General. If you have been following the story about the sale of RECs within Green Mountain Power (GMP) territory, this update will be of interest to you. According to a February 10th article in Times Argus, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided not to investigate GMPs marketing of RECs, but said that communication to the public should remain clear. [A GMP Press Release from September 19th 2014 is available here] Kevin Jones, a VLS professor was not happy with these results. Last year VLS challenged GMP handling of their RECs, and specifically aimed this criticism towards Vermont’s SPEED law saying that, “From an environmental and electric rate (perspective), the SPEED program has been a failure”. Kristen Carlson, a GMP representative, addressed this issue by bringing to light that the sale of RECs allows for clean energy to be bought at a lower price. Thus boosting the sale of clean energy and allowing Vermont to become a leader in clean energy production. Rates are in fact lowered through the out-of-state sale of RECs. In turn the environment has greater protection through financial support, not greater pollution. [More about GMP on RECs can be found here] As the issue became more public, it morphed into a criticism of the definition of “credit”. While companies that sell energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro are creating renewable energy, they are selling the “credits”. Thus, selling the right to call them renewable. This is no way negates the fact that these energy sources are in fact creating energy from a source that has renewable attributes, only that the jargon used, must reflect the credit exchange. In essence, this is what the issue has boiled down to. Meanwhile, those of us installing solar and wind generators in Vermont are happy to sell RECs out of state, to insure that Vermont resident’s get lower clean energy rates and that our environment is protected for future generations. Maybe we use “clean energy” instead of “renewable energy”, but the effects are the same. On Thursday a letter was sent from the FTC to a GMP lawyer saying, “Although no findings have been made that these claims [made by VLS] violate the law, we urge GMP in the future to prevent any confusion by clearly communicating the implications of its REC sales for Vermont customers and REC purchasers.” To this end, we attempt to clarify the issues here and educate our Vermont Community Solar participants on the function of RECs. Read the entire article...

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Victory Gardens for the New Milennium

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December 2, 2014 (Posted by Lisa via Anna) As I walked out to my office just now, light snow was sifting from the sky. In early December, most gardeners in Vermont expect to be taking some hard earned deep breaths, gazing in satisfaction at the produce in the root cellar, the freezer, or on the pantry shelves, and enjoying thinking about something other than gardening for a little while. Meanwhile, the Soveren/Vermont Community Solar team was working up in Groton today, beginning installation on a collaborative project with local Groton solar developer Bruce Genereaux (gmcommunitysolar.com). And there are more miles to go before the crew sleeps this winter. Working outside in the winter is hard. No two ways about it. Sometimes, life calls us to do the hard thing.   And since when is hard a bad thing? (Take that any way you like, people!) Ask anyone who lived through World War II in the U.S.—anyone who wasn’t uberwealthy, I mean—about those times. Ask them about victory gardens and rationing. Ask them about working two or three jobs and taking care of the kids and wondering if this would be the day you heard that your beloved was dead. My experience suggests you’ll hear something like, “Yes, those were hard times, but they were good times, too. We all know we were in it together, we needed each other and so we helped each other.” The Soveren/VCS crew is out planting victory gardens in 18 degree weather and I’m dreaming about the ancestors. (Yes, this Vice President in Charge of Relations is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!) Feeling them in my numb fingertips as I fill the chickens’ waterer from the brook in these cold mornings. Feeling their strong backs, their strong legs, their strong cores, as I shoveled last week’s snow. Imagining how the snow would feel to me if there were no engines. Imagining living through winters more fierce than any living Vermonter has experienced on a regular basis in uninsulated dwellings. Imagining living through those long, fierce winters with no source of light or heat except fire. Imagining walking from Georgia to Canada barefoot not by choice but because I have nothing, because I myself am property according to the law of the land. There are no packages of food waiting for me at the post office in the next town. I’m hungry and on the run from dogs and two-leggeds more vicious than dogs could ever be. Imagining walking out into a Vermont winter night with three kids and not much else, not because we’ve decided to live simply or go on a vision quest but because home is more dangerous than the cold. Because I have nothing, because women are property according to the law of the land. Imagining going into winter after a poor harvest season with no means of getting food from someplace more fortunate. The ancestors of this land—indigenous American, children of Africa, and Europeans alike—were tough. They all knew about doing the hard thing–and going on doing it, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. We need their perspective now. We need their strength now. We need their perseverance now. We need their fierce love of life now. Because in case someone hasn’t noticed, times are tough in Vermont, all over the U.S. Times are tough all over this Blue Planet, and not only for our human relations. An undeclared worldwide covert war has been in progress for longer than a Hundred Years. Only now do many of us begin to how much has already been lost and how horrific today’s losses are. Collectively, our ancestors have seen a lot of war, covert and overt, domestic and international. We need their wisdom now. When I listen to my...

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Locally Owned Solar Creating more Jobs

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Locally Owned Solar Creating more Jobs

After 4 years in Business, Soveren is looking at how we impact our community. A November 8th article from the San Diego Press discussed the higher rate of job creation by locally owned clean energy companies. Based on a report by the Institute for Local Self Reliance, John Farrell spells out the striking difference between locally owned and absentee owned energy production.  Based on the graphic here, locally owned projects bring in on average twice as many jobs as absentee owned projects. The elements of a project that determines job creation is size, location, materials and labor used. If the project is locally owned there is a higher chance that it will use local materials and labor, as well as benefit local shareholders and investors. If a company from out of state were to install a project in southern VT, they would import the developers, investors and probably even the installers. Only a few subcontractors would be hired. Because Soveren is a locally based company, we develop our projects right here, hire local labor, and invest in the local economy. Those who participate in our projects live here in VT and reap the benefits, sinking their savings right back into the local community. It is a structure that benefits all involved without outsourcing or importing any major investments. We support local manufacturers as much as possible, hire people from the area, sell to people from the area, and support local banks and credit unions, triggering a market based approach to climate change and self reliance. We keep our rates as low as possible, while providing VCS participants with the best PV technology the market can provide. With an insulated approach to community solar, VCS ensures its participants a stable and clean source of energy. All this while building the green collar work force and feeding the local economy. At this point taking fossil fuels out of commission is only a bonus. But isn’t that why we are doing this, to preserve our future? We don’t just want to preserve a future, we want to build a clean and prosperous...

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The Local Advantage

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The Local Advantage

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has put out a study on Why Local Energy Ownership Matters. This directly describes the types of projects we are quietly accomplishing in Vermont with Vermont Community Solar. An article in CleanTechnica addresses this study in short. It clearly lays out the barriers for locally owned energy, and one by one breaks them down and solves them. Some of these barriers include utility owned power as the status quo, startup capital, legal opposition and push back from utility providers. In Vermont we can comprehensively address these barriers and push through them to reap the benefits of locally owned power. For one, the people of Vermont know how to provide for a need. In this case the need is cheap, sustainable, clean, local energy sources. From what Soveren has seen in the past few months, Vermonters want to control their own power production, and they are making it possible by generously supporting our Vermont Community Solar projects. This makes the status quo a moot point. Energy prices are too high for tradition to be a barrier here. Secondly, the startup capital is found where there is a will for it. The creativity of local bankers has matched the drive of our residents and business owners. They are meeting this need face on. As a safe investment with a high return Green Mountain Credit Union has spearheaded a Solar Loan program securing financial assistance for people who want to buy into Vermont Community Solar with photovoltaics is collateral. Nothing more. This knocks down the second big barrier to locally owning your energy production in Vermont. Legal opposition in the state is relatively nil. With progressive representation in the state house, there are actually incentives and goals for Vermont’s clean energy production. With the SPEED program a total goal for renewable energy production in VT is set where,”55 %  of  each retail  electricity  provider’s  annual electric sales  during the year beginning  January 1, 2017, increasing  by an additional 4 % each third January  thereafter, until reaching 75 % on January 1, 2032,  must consist of total renewable energy”. This stands to reason that our local government supports local energy production.  As for the Utilities, Vermont’s largest electric provider, Green Mountain Power, has no source of energy production of its own. GMP buys all of its electricity or else is making it from wind, hydro, or solar already. Because there is no dependency on coal production, or capital tied up in nuclear reactors, utilities in Vermont are free to support projects such as Vermont Community Solar. Without these barriers to local power ownership, Vermonters are free to reap the economic and environmental advantages of owning their own means of energy production. According to VTDigger and a report from Solar Production, Vermont has the most solar jobs per capita of any state in the US. This has strengthened our economy from the inside out and created a more self sustaining community. Long live local energy ownership! If you haven’t already started participating, we can hook you up at Soveren Headquarters! 802-869-2500 Have a Beautiful...

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