Selectboard Meeting Notes – 100% Renewable? Maybe Later…Soon. Really.

selectboard feb 2021

An extended discussion about Brattleboro becoming the largest purchaser of Cow Power ended with explanations of feelings and confusions, but no purchase agreement. The Brattleboro Selectboard was saved from making a decision by Town Manager Elwell’s suggestion to gather more data.

Lots of water and sewer improvements and activity, a thank you from Boys & Girls, and a new name for a short street rounded things out.

Comments | 10

  • Preliminaries

    They are in executive session prior to the meeting. And… during the meeting. They are starting late.

    Pre-meeting banter about vaccines, the VFW not being open today for vaccines, interpreters, elections on March 2, voting early…

    Chair Tim Wessel – welcome everyone to the Mardi Gras edition of the selectboard. No remarks. It’s Mardi Gras. Nice time to celebrate life. We’ve had more deaths in the community. Celebrate life as we have it. There is a lot of good out there. Whether you are team catsup or team mustard, I wish you well.

    Peter Elwell – 4 topics. The first is good news. The quarterly local option taxes – sales tax for Q2 is $244 653 – highest quarter yet. Better than expected. Rooms & Meals tax didn’t do better. Still performing poorly – about $20k below last quarter. We received $99k then $78k… back in the summer there was outdoor dining. The cold weather came and people went back to curbside pickup. Not sure of how it breaks down, but it makes sense that meals is down. The bright side is we’ve seen significant increases… this $78k number is the normal amount we had in 2015. So, not bad.

    Liz – some of that revenue comes from Project Feed?

    Elwell – it doesn’t. No taxes paid on those meals. Tax-free meals. My second topic, and each of the next three clears up confusion… the first is to PAYT garbage bags – the purple bag.. there was a snafu at the manufacturer. They shipped some to us that are marked Portland, Maine – but not funny for the people who put them out and they weren’t picked up. Triple T didn’t pick it up, and went on to their additional routes. Hang on to those bags until the next time around. We think the mistake is corrected, but if you got Portland bags – it’s ok to use. You’re good. We expect the supply is relatively small and we’ll get back to normal.

    Tim – and they are collector’s items. Are they slightly smaller than our bags?

    Elwell – the first I heard. We’ll look into it. Easy for us to confirm with manufacturer. It was their error, and they were good once they found it. They were all over it.

    Ian Goodnow – anything we can do in the future about communicating with Triple T if they see something unusual?

    Elwell – there are many things that can go wrong and we communicate all the time. Not the fault of the drivers. My next item is something the board and I have received communication about – the two school district questions on the March ballot. The selectboard did not make a policy decision to put them on the ballot. No, under the consolidated district, they ask the selectboard to put the items on the ballot. They did ask us, we looked at the question with Bob Fisher, and you did it on behalf of the school board. You did that and we warned the election, and there has been a lot of dialogue about whether asking these questions is good, and what it means… direct communications to the school board. Why did we do this? You did as you were asked by the school board.

    Liz – if any explanatory matter are to be presented by this school board…

    Elwell – and the members of the public.

    Liz – will they?

    Elwell – don’t know. One more – we got something wrong. Just about the time people received the postcard to ask for absentee ballots – last week – we lost town phones for two days. Right when people wanted to contact the Town Clerk’s office, and the MyVoter page was down… so the card told them two things that didn’t work. It’s all up now and voters can do things online again. If you have a Brattleboro question, call the town Clerk – 251-8157 or email at

    Daniel Quipp – two part – 1 there is a traffic safety meeting this week. 2. I want to acknowledge all the good work by the DPW – a lot of snow removal over the last week. This seems like the most intense effort in my memory to remove snow. I appreciate all the work that was done.

    Elwell – it has been a challenging year. A storm like this… there was sleet and rain and a slushy mess, and now it will freeze for about a week. There is a mad scramble to get everything as clear as possible before it freezes, but it will freeze so be careful.

    Ian – my election discussion – March 2 is Town Meeting Day – request a ballot and mail it in or go to the ballot box drop box in the parking lot. The my voter page is on the town website. There is no in person early voting. Am Legion will be open for voting 7-7. Encourage you to vote absentee. Request ballots until close to the election, but get it back in… don’t mail it if you get one late.

    Liz McLoughlin – Reminder that there is still a high risk of COVID in Windham County.

    Tim – Vaccine delivery going well, but we need to be patient. Time for public participation…

    Gary Stroud – I’m in recovery mode. Thanks. My heart and love for all the kind words. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Taking lots of medications, blood. Very draining. Reminder that on Feb 23 you will be on a forum for candidates. Looking forward to it. Thank you all. Good candidates out there. I’ll call you Daniel. I’ll be at RTM, but taking a rest to charge up these batteries. I love you all.

    Tim – thoughts and prayers. We’re all rooting for you.

    Jessica Gelter – I am one of the many candidates running for the one year seat. The planning commission sent out a press release about some actions we can take if retail cannabis passes… what the Town might be able to do, if it does pass. The plan is to share with newspapers and on

    Evan Chadwick – how ya doin? I am running for a one year seat as well. I want to thank you for your service and dedication. It got me interested in running. This is some new information I learned today – we’re now down to 20 officers on the Brattleboro PD. I’ve sued police departments for bad policing. We are incredibly fortunate to have the leadership and a department committed to getting better. If we continue to lose officers – one of the main reasons is burnout. They feel under appreciated and overworked. In any profession that leads to bad decisions being made. I implore you to take this crisis in Brattleboro… work together to come up with creative ways to appreciate police and come up with better job descriptions. I look forward to the dialog moving forward.

  • Consent Agenda

    A. Monthly Financial Report – FY21 through January

    B. Replacement Police Vehicles – Bid Award to Upfit 2 Vehicles

    C. Homeland Security Grant for Fire Department Equipment+Training – Authorize Application

    so consented – 4-0 (Brandie absent this evening….)

  • Water Treatment Facilities Replacement Project – Application for Financing through the State of Vermont’s Revolving Loan Fund

    Steve Barrett – the first item tonight is we are moving forward with our pleasant valley water treatment project. Tonight we talk of the revolving loan fund. The application will require your signatures. Our engineer, Chrissy haskins, is here to give you an overview.

    Chrissy – the construction loan application is prepared and ready for signing. For $12,500,000 for 30 years. There is a 25 % subsidy available, possibly, once locked in by RTM vote. The final design review meeting was Feb 10 with no major revisions by state review engineers. 100% done by Feb 19 with plans. Permits are coming along Act 250 is posted, stormwater permits out for public notice, and wastewater permit is waiting. Submit loan by Feb 17 or so, design complete Friday, bond vote March 17th, and vote on march 20th. Once results are certified we can get results tot he state and get loan approval in April, and get bids in May. Still on track to start June of this year.

    Liz – you said the discounted loan was based on first come first serve.. are we later due to RTM schedule?

    Chrissy – yes – some hold them in early march on Town Meeting Day. Some are delaying their meetings. Some projects will have early March bond votes. Your project will be split between two funding years, so you will get $5.5 m in this year and $5.5m in the next year – it opens a new round of subsidy. This project should be in construction so you will be first in line for the next round.

    Elwell – for the public – on March 17 there will be an informational meeting about this project and this funding. The funding is the question at RTM. Will answer any questions.

    Liz – will town water be turned green for that event?

    Tim – St patricks Day.

    Steve – we’re right in line and the clock has lined up nicely for us, and the project is coming smoothly. I’m so excited about it… this Irish guy will be doing and informational meeting on St Pat’s Day.

    Elwell – that committed, not excited.

    application approved! 4-0

  • Signal Hill Pump Station Project – Green Mountain Power to Install 3-Phase Power

    Steve B – at Signal Hill, we did a land purchase there and it is in the plan to upgrade the pumping station there. As we do the final design, they recommend upgrading to a 3 way power source. Green Mtn Power – $18,662 to upgrade power.

    Ian – is this pump station the one where it is kinda close to a residence and we were talking about noise? Is this going to change the assessment of loudness?

    Steve – we’ll go through the planning department. Existing neighbors have a pump station now. This will be larger and will have back up power. It may be additional noise, but water will be pumped. We’re looking at a precast concrete building to buffer the sound. The pumps will be variable speed, to provide the water needed based on demand. Demand up there is pretty low. During fire, all the pumps will ramp up. As we go through the design we’ll take it into consideration. Once we get a final design we’ll show ti to the neighbors and show them exactly what will be there. If there wasn’t a pump station there’d be house there. One neighbor wanted a bit more of a setback, and it will have it.

    Three phase power installation – approved 4-0

  • Monsters

    Wastewater Treatment Plant – Emergency Rebuild of Muffin Monster Grinder

    Tim – the most colorful thing.

    Steve – when Dan Tyler wrote this he used the term we used… Muffin Monster. I’ve received phone calls and youtube videos. It does bring focus to what we do at the wastewater treatment plant. It generated a lot fo interest. It’s a grinder that grinds up waste. This is at the facility. It’s been online 10 years and it is the life expectancy. We got the life out of it. The cost is $12,777 – about half the cost to replace it. Makes sense to repair this and get it back in service. Town manager allowed an emergency purchase that we hope you will ratify.

    Tim – I have several jokes..

    Ian – the memo says the setup of the grinder means it can’t be checked? It grinds until it breaks? Is that unique to us?

    Steve – it is not unique – they are usually the first line of defense. You can bypass it. Ours is between the digesters. It’s a little different. We’e looking at ways that we might be able to make it better. We’re looking at it.

    Ian – I was surprised. That first thing is a grinder?

    Steve – yes. This is in a closed circuit piping system. It needs to be encapsulated and protected. The open stream coming in… you can see it and you can reject materials. This is different. It’s in the piping itself.

    Tim – you can get along without one for a week or two?

    Steve – the longer, the worse on the equipment?

    Daniel – what’s the limit for spending?

    Peter – my normal spending limit is $10k. For emergencies, we may spend six figures. No limit. Just urgency.

    Emergency Monster rebuilding approved. 4-0

  • Discussion re: Security of Our Water Treatment System

    Steve – there was a cyber attack at a facility in Florida, and the treatment plant had a SCADA system that regulates speed of pumps, and opens and closes valves. In this case, someone came in and increased the chemical feed. The operator was there and was able to control things, but are looking at their operations. It captured our attention – we got alerts. Fortunately, nothing is perfect, but we have firewalls, our chemical feeds are set manually, and our water goes to a 3 million gallon tank, and we can shut it off and we have backup storage. We’re not immune to this but we feel we’re in a good position. The original designer will look at it again. The new computers we get will be even better. But we asked them to take a look at this and make sure we have safe water. I know the board wanted to hear about this. That’s what we found.

    Liz – thanks. You are going the xtra mile. You asked the company to review it with you.

    Steve – we attended a cyber security training recently, too, which is good.

    Tim – an impressive facility.

    Gary Stroud – hi Steve, how are you. You are doing awesome with plowing up my way. Did you hear about Burlington. The found the UK COVID – how are you testing the waters for situations like that?

    Steve – we have put our name in for another round and attended some meeting with UVM – what they are doing is testing wastewater to see how much COVID is in an are, then will divide up the collecting to see if they can get additional info. It has picked up some of the new strains. There is a cost and some grants funds. We’re interested in participating if selected.

    Gary – I’m double masking – something in the water treatment…

    Steve – this is waste water being tested… from fecal matter to determine what percentage might have COVID. Not drinking water. If they can do this, more sewer plants might do it.

    Steve Dotson – I wanted to highlight that one case in point – sustainability is built in. We’re anticipating a cyber attack disruption, and we are separating our human and machine controls – that makes it easier for us.

  • Boys+Girls Club – Update

    Michelle Simpson – hi all. Hope my connection is ok. I’m here to say thanks on behalf of the B&G Club. I want to share a message with all of you…. (her connection is breaking up)

    (board suggest ways to share a screen)

    Tim – can you hear us? We’re not seeing the screen share…

    (sounds of kids saying thank you and a board member, and some kids playing, and a thanks from a board member…)

    Tim – we’re not getting the screen share…

    Michelle – o o o o … ccc c c could you n n n ot tttt hear it? I used the share screen butttttoooonnn.

    (she tries again)

    Plays a video that breaks up but shows kids having fun and board members thanking the town…

    Tim – that’s great Mchelle..

    Michelle – I’ll stop sharing. I’ll send the url in an email to you. Iiii aaa lllssooo…

    Tim – we are not hearing ou. maybe turn off your camera?

    Michelle – and we’ve been open… we’ve been able to focus on youth development at Flat Street by moving the after care to the retreat farm. We’ve been focused on unperson engagement to combat isolation and support social interaction. It’s been quite an inspiring time at the club and want everyone to know how appreciative we are with a big outpouring of support this year.

    Daniel – I appreciate the thanks and want to redirect it to RTM members who approve your request. I used to work at the club – at Westgate. Nice to see Ryan. I appreciate all the work you do. It is meaningful in town.

    Tim – yes, we’re accepting thanks on behalf of everyone.

    Liz – a special thanks to the club and everyone to reimagine their work through COVID

    Tim – these in-person connections are so important to the youth. It was a bit freaky-uppy – should I trademark that? (NO) Thanks again on behalf of the town for the sweet video you put together.

  • Cow Power – Recommendation from the Energy Committee

    Elwell – Oscar and Django

    Oscar Hellar – we’ll make a recommendation and take questions. I won’t go all the way into the history of this. There was a non-binding town meeting request to buy 100% renewable from CowPower. We looked at it. Hopefully you have the proposal and the memo. There are a couple fo ways we could go. The committee recommends the Town purchase 37% of electricity from Cow Power program – 4 cents extra, or about $42k extra . GMP is mostly renewable already. If we buy 37% through this program we would be essentially 100% renewable. There are other options but the committee recommends this. There is weird stuff in there.

    Django – that’s a good summary. The point that comes to mind is for the town to be 100% renewable and gives the town clout and legitimacy. When it comes to citizens, they’ll be more likely to listen.

    Tim – when I saw the document and the memo, it talked about the 2017 RTM resolution. I went back to try to find it. I found the 2018 one… I wanted to see what passed. I found something better… it went to the voters in 2018.

    Oscar – the year is wrong but I’m talking about… 2018 other business, renewable energy resolution by Kurt Daims.

    Tim – The one I found was similar – an article that passed overwhelmingly. “That the town commit to efforts such as 100% renewable energy. This is actually binding. Might be stronger to build the case with…

    Daniel – I wrote it! I wanted to bring us back to something concrete and practical. It would be good to explain what cow power iactually is…

    Oscar – So, cow power is a program that GMP that anyone can buy into and it pays local farmers to set up systems to convert methane on farms into electricity. 100% renewable without the caveats of hydropower. Money goes to local framers, it is regional. It’s a great program.

    Daniel – cows poop. That happens whether we invest or not. When they do, that release methane and this process intervenes and processes that waste through digesters, and they extract methane and create electricity.

    Oscar – there are additional benefits – it reduces greenhouse gases and creates electricity.

    Daniel – so what we are doing is we’ll pay more money for our electricity – we’ll invest in this renewable form of electricity.

    Django – in addition – some of that money goes to farmers, so we are investing in our state as a whole, in agriculture.

    Stephen Dotson – just one other critical point – it doesn’t only support in state farmers. It also supports in state renewable energy development. Generation of in-state renewables is a goal we want. if we talk of Muffin Monsters I’ll talk of cow farts. We’re talking about electricity. GMP is already 67% renewable. We aren’t going to be 100% renewable energy… just electricity.

    Tim – the article that passed said 100% renewable energy in municipal buildings? All power in town or new and renovated town meetings?

    Stephen – that’s about all power and a larger focus on the energy committee. This is one step in that direction… not all the power portfolio, just the electricity.

    Elwell – you are referring to something that went to voters, which is different than the non-binding resolution. The work on cow power has all flowed out of the 2018 RTM action, and the place we arrived at a year ago, because we hadn’t implemented the cow power option and because we were getting a sustainability coordinator, so we suggested you let Stephen come on board and work with the energy committee to develop this and other recommendations. So, the piece tonight is cow power coming forward – to buy 37% of town of Brattleboro electricity this way.

    Stephen – GMP says that if we make this purchase it may be one of the largest or the largest in the state. Larger than many others. Noteworthy in a number of ways.

    Liz – speaking of noteworthy. Item one was a bigger investment than the other. If you go past the numbers you get to two calculations – one is to make all town buildings carbon neutral to cow power – or to make all town electricity … this huge investment is a larger equation than what was voted on… so somewhere we went from “new and renovated” buildings to “all municipal electricity” so we have this out of scale investment in cow power in Brattleboro. Not sure tax payers bought into this.

    Elwell – we didn’t stray from what was on the ballot. We never worked on the specific recommendation – it was general guidance to us. It wasn’t focused on new and renovated buildings. This are things we do as we renovate buildings. We’re doing that wit the water plant right now, but that’s not what brought this to you. What brought this was the resolution passed at the end of an RTM in 2018 specifically about resources like cow power. We took that and were sent to do follow up. All work has been related to that… all consumption, not just new and renovated buildings. This is the newest iteration of a policy decision before you, about the full electricity portfolio.

    Liz – this was an unusually high contribution to cow power – what are others doing?

    Stephen – no municipality of our size has invested. The average, therefore, is a home or business. We’re a different kind of account altogether. It’s scale.

    Ian – I did some research on cow power and found that using this waste is good for farms.. not just the money, but it reduces the growth of certain weeds and other benefits. Pretty interesting. We can all agree it is fairly complex. What can we say with confidence. If we approved this proposal… could we say with confidence the Town of Brattleboro’s municipal energy consumption is 100% renewable? Or could we say the Town’s municipal energy consumption is 100% carbon neutral.

    Elwell – if you say electricity rather than energy…

    Ian – Town electrical consumption is 100% renewable and Town consumption is carbon neutral if we approve this?

    Oscar – at the risk of going down a road.. it is a little bit… it will be a little bit inexact. 63% of our energy is some-percentage renewable and the other is 100% renewable. You’d need an asterix for sayin it is 100% renewable, but for me the difference is not that big of a deal – we’d be very close. If we want to say that with no asterix we’d buy 100% of cow power. A 37% buy would make the town’s electricity use both renewable and carbon neutral.

    Ian – the climate impact is real, and Brattleboro should be a leader in this. We committed to significant steps in making ourselves mire relabel. This is a clear step. I urge the full board to vote for this.

    Daniel – I’m amazed the work I did all these years ago is coming up again. I’m surprised we’re discussing this ballot initiative I helped draft. That was a nonbonding resolution. The difference between the two is that the list was pretty extensive. Cow Power was very clear – “buy cow power” – you could questions any of this. Happy we are going to make a significant contribution, especially given that it was a nonbonding vote. I know people in Brattleboro feel strongly about climate action. That’s why the bigger resolution passed overwhelmingly. Some electricity will be powered by cow poop. So, hurray! I’mm all for it. It’s a bold step and we need bold steps.

    Tim – I didn’t want to muddy the waters about the original will of the voters. It is mentioned in the cow power resolution. I was trying to prop up the idea that using 100% renewable is the voters will. I have feelings about cow power, too.

    Liz – I’m stuck on Stephen’s memo identifying options. Option 1 and 2… it looks like option 1 is a perfectly reasonable path of action. It would invest $7k. Option 2 is six times as large. As a selectboard member I’d have a hard time justifying paying a premium for electricity when the electricity we’re already buying is 63% renewable. So why not feel good about $7k?

    Oscar – I think we’ve tried to be disciplined during this process. We want to dives goals, and if were up to me it might not… there is an argument for investing more as well. We tried to be disciplined with the charge from RTM, so the reason we recommend the $42k is that goals we adopted were around emission reductions, and RTM was specific.. and Kurt will say this should be 100% – the resolution’s core was to make electricity renewable. Option 1 does something goos… about 1/6 as good, and less responsive to what we’ve been talking about, and that’s why we recommend B.

    Tim – we need to take a break. Can we take our break now and when we get back Kurt can comment then we can talk and do more questions. Break until 8:21.

  • Back for more

    Kurt – Can I read some communication I had with the Town Manager? (reads resolution) I got a message about the progress saying “sorry it has taken so long, but you asked where we are at. That is also complicated. After RTM the board asked staff to examine cow power. Staff has a different idea and the board asked staff to investigate. Staff asked for letters of interest for renewable projects, but I met with energy committee and learned about carbon offsets and renewables. … I wondered if I made a poor recommendation, so I left it to the sustainability coordinator to make a recommendation…

    Tim – kurt…

    Kurt – Please, Tim.. I’ve been waiting three year. Ironic we’re calling this new business. I sent a letter a couple of months ago to put this on the ballot now. BCS didn’t drop the ball. 350 VT endorsed this. What aggravating me and scares me is that it took so long to get nowhere. This was a climate el=merency and we’re three years in a nd members are trying to pinch pennies. Denial comes in many forms. Some people are not who they think they are – not to point fingers except at Daniel – we have to get this moving. Can;’t we do better?

    Tim – I’ve just muted Kurt for attacking board member. I’m not sure how helpful that it to the discussion…

    Daniel – I’m a public figure and it is fair game. Kurt is feeling like the Town is dragging its feet. I can see why he’d think that. I don’t think we are. If we’re going to speak bluntly, a non-binding proposal at the end of the meeting does not have the same weight as a warned item when all are present. The resolution I helped draft… I had no illusions that it would lead to action. The reason cow power moved forward is because he pushed it. He’s right. 350 Brattleboro had been working on many aspects of those things. One reason I ran for selectboard was to do this kind of work. I’m patient and happy to be here when it matters. He can’t point fingers. This is a good investment. Liz is right, it will cost us more. Do we want to pay more and have renewable electricity, or should we do business as usual. This is the only way I can make change so I’ll vote for it. It will cost me an extra $5 a year in property taxes and I’m OK with it. I’m for it.

    Stephen – I have a point of process… I’ve been trying to figure out how we got here. Part of what caused a lot of chaos and disorder… this didn’t start with ehenergy committee. It started with RTM and moved around without an anchor in a citizen body. To anyone with similar ideas and proposals is to tell us – the energy committee – so we can help shape it. If we had done this we would have avoided a lot of confusion, so, moving forward…

    Ian – I don’t condone direct attacks and keeping this conversation civil – I didn’t;’t want to get confused but appreciate all the information – being my first year, there was a lot of homework to do to see how we got here. I just wanted to keep the clarity and didn’t intend any kind of attack.

    Liz – back to the resolution that Daniel wrote – we’re making progress on a lot of these things – weatherizing town buildings, phasing out fossil fuel, supporting biking and walking…and among this is this ask. My point is that were were given options and one is for $7k and one is for $42k and $42k sounds like an outsized contribution to cow power and $7k is more appropriate to spend more money on electricity..

    Daniel – this isn’t about penny pinching – we know one thing we need to do is commit in a bold way. We could do $6k but making that commitment. A 100% goal means you know when you’ve gotten there. That’s a great place to start. if we build the waste water treatment plant and it wasn’t efficient, that would be a bad decision. The police fire project should have moved away from fossil fuels… we have to take some bolder steps.

    Ian – I want to couple that with all the work that went into this makes me confident in that larger commitment. If this didn’t;t have all the staff and committee work that has gone into it, I’d hesitate on the larger commitment. So, I think that work is important to keep in mind. This is the best way for us to do this right now.

    Liz – all that other work is brought to us for us to decide…

    Tim – so, the last time, we’ve been touching on cow power for so long. I’m not a fan. We waited for the sustainability coordinator for input. In the interim several people have pointed out we thought the solar array was getting us to 90% renewable, but you point out that was double dipping in the idea of renewables. We’re more like 63%, which is more realistic. You have a quote in your write up – electrons don’t know where they come from.. that applies to how I feel about cow power. It is a squishy thing. You can do 100% cow power, or 50% or 25%… and below that they say it is impossible to track the individual electrons on the grid, and explain that cow power is designed to go for qualifying producers – from farmers, from certificates in Mass and CT, or third, or are made to the renewable fund to…. how inspiring. No one knows what that means. It isa vehicle to say one is renewable… but you gave us a bunch of options. There are cheaper options. That’s valuable for taxpayers, but #5…to invest in a consultant of carbon sequestration in Brattleboro. We take an inventory of the carbon sequestration capabilities that we have and look at our carbon impact overall?

    Stephen – yes. In my memo – I tried to balance consideration of a number of different goals, but also highlight goals just passed and reinforced but the selectboard and energy committee. One was to invest in in-state renewables and cow power is the best option. They might draw energy from out of state, as back-up. Out of state is where our landfill array went. How much could cow power offset as a generation technique. It uses a pollutant as a source, so you are carbon negative. Methane is more powerful that CO2. If the Town were to ever consider its carbon by purchasing offsets, we should account for what we are already doing in our lands. We can value conservation if we account for what we have in our working lands.

    Tim – even the RNG is not even considered an offsetting activity.

    Stephen – I suspect it is offsetting for the farmers. Eliminating methane is on their side of the equation.

    Tim – you’ve done important work and wanted to highlight item #5 – it feels more real that signing off… I’m not that interested in saying we’re 100% renewable. I can say we’re buying into cow power for other reasons, but want to go forward with the sequestration inventory. I’m not into $42k to just say we’re 100% renewable “*” I’m kinda right…

    Daniel – cow poop is going to happen every day and we’re diverting it and turning into energy. It will power something. You know what else doesn’t know where it goes? Emissions. WE don’t want credit outside our borders, but emissions from our neighbors affects us. We’re all connected. BY investing in VT renewable energy – it is a good thing to do, whether it is 100% or not. if we shy away we are moving in the wrong direction.

    Tim – I like item #1 and item #5 together. The memo suggest we do the $42k and the study. But I think #1 and #5 – a placeholder investment in cow power until we find the best things for Brattleboro. I like that compromise position, even though #5 doesn’t have a cost.

    Daniel – more than $42k.

    Tim – not sure we can do this now but we can certainly start down that path to go in that direction. I’m stubbornly against the full investment in cow power. It isn’t perfect for what we have to do. Did your write up go to the committee?

    Stephen – the committee made the recommendation and we’ve been working on this since I started…

    Oscar – there was talk of #5 – it will have to happen for us to meet our goals. WE have to do some kind of inventory of use and sequestration. It will happen in the next 29 years. I’d be disappointed if you picked that today. Speaking frankly, I’d worry that you are picking because it has no price tag attached. It would be very expensive. Take many years. Multiple staff full-time work. A heavy duty process. I wouldn’t feel great about that. We wouldn’t feel the pain of that decision…

    Tim – it isn’t necessary for us to feel pain to do something for the town…\

    Oscar – I think that for when you make important decisions you should be aware of the pain of those decisions. If I came to the next meeting for $5900k for a new music venue for the park, you’d think it would be damaging to the budget… and clearly $42k is a little painful. I don’t think it should be. It’s a small fraction of the budget. It’s not the full investment, like RTM asked for. That would be about $120k a year. I’m probably angering people by making this smaller proposal. I’d love for us to enter into along process. WE need to know the budgetary commitment… it will be substantial. The inventory is essential but it doesn’t improve anything. WQE’ll just know how we are doing. If we buy cow power, we’ve made a real investment that makes a difference day 1. We recommend option #2 and #5 should be a longer conversation.

    Stephen – carbon sequestration analysis needs to be done by an expert, and I’ve been tracking down that expertise in the state. I have two engines to solve carbon – energy, and conservation. I’d encourage you to expect a different proposal around that work, but form a different group. It tells us where we are at but also how much we can value our lands. Where we can be, and why we can value the land we have in a new way. It’s a different conversation and committee. This is an emissions choice.

    Tim – a better course in the long term. Cow power is an imperfect program.

    Daniel – more from the committee members then I’ll speak briefly.

    Django – I want to bring up the post that at the last meeting the board voted on a set of goals perfectly in line with this cow power proposal. It’s tangible, taking carbon and making energy for the town. I beg you all to look at this not a monetary issue. St the end of the day we have 7 years. We’re running out of time. For this to be… the smaller option.. it goes against what you voted for at the last meeting.

    Oscar – we had a talking stick at summer camp. I want to talk about.. obviously the board has to make decisions, and it isn’t your role to rubber stamp non-binding resolutions. But, in these various ways.. I haven’t seen anything contrary – the Town would like to see this and use 100% renewable electricity. I don’t think there is another story to tell. Cow power – you have reservations Tim – this makes a local and farm investment. We had all the same concerns about asterisk on the cow power program . I called and spoke to GMP and he assured me that there is room for 3x our expected usage. We can set aside concerns of running our of farms and energy instate. The program is undersubscribed. The other thing about the squishiness of the program and energy credits. There’s really no energy source that would be better. There’s no source without squishiness. WE all agree that renewable is important. The Town voters are asking to use renewable electricity. Cow power is the perfect vehicle and Option B is already a compromise. I think the town is speaking clearly on this and it is a relatively small amount of money and a reliable program. This is the decision to make. I share a little of Kurt’s frustration… not condoning the tone or tactics. The has been going for three years. At some point you have to say we don’t want to do what Town meeting wants, or do what RTM wants…

    Tim – in both cases the voters and RTM are talking about town buildings…

    Liz – that’s my point…

    Tim – I’m exploring every way to …

    Oscar – what other major uses of electricity are you talking about?

    Tim – everything is in here… we are honoring the will of the voters with a smaller investment.

    Liz – at the end of Stephen’s memo it states the difference between town buildings and all town electricity… that’s the difference between the 7k and 42k. RTM said do buildings. Let’s pay $7k to do that an not expand it. WE are split tonight. Why not come back and tell us later…

    Oscar – I’m bothered that you think we are giving you different numbers…

    Liz – I know there is a difference between all town electricity and all town buildings.

    Oscar – more than happy…

    Stephen: I can straighten this out… we are only talking about town buildings.

    Tim – we get that…

    Stephen – renewable and carbon neutral…

    Elwell – yes there is confusion. The smaller number is carbon neutrality and the larger is 100% renewable. The Town’s consumption uses electricity outside of buildings – streetlights. And other things – traffic signals, and more. Can we stop for tonight and staff will help you with it… you aren’t going to get three votes. Stephen spoke to we’re only talking about Town of Brattleboro., not the community and private consumption, but within the town we consume electricity outside of buildings. Allow us some space to bring back some additional staff analysis. We won’t advocate one way or another, but we can take what we’ve heard and the additional more earn alar breakdown you are looking for, so if you see a classification of buildings, and utility facilities, and non-buildings – we could do appropriate breakdown. We can help you find your sweet spot. You all want to do this but are divided on how to do it.

    Tim -I can accept that..

    Ian – that makes a lot fo sense. One idea – did we ask if GMP would cut us a deal for such a large investment?

    Liz – the penny pincher in me loves that.

    Stephen – they probably don’t have any interest, but I’ll try…

    Daniel – helpful discussion. I mostly agree with Liz… the resolution for cow power speaks to town buildings. Mine speaks to town new and renovated buildings . We can just go with buildings. But we’ve had a lot fo work done on this, and we’re a few year forward. I don’t want us to get too happy that we do this for buildings. I want the waste water treatment facility considered as a building. It uses a lot fo electricity.

    Tim – that’s why have to spend efforts reducing consumption.

    Elwell – you’ll be the same board until march 23… if we can do it for March 2 we will but March 16 for sure. You’ll be the same board. I want to review what we’ll bring back – we’ll bring you a granular look… for buildings, we have buildings with employees, buildings for the public, and some utility buildings. WE will divide it more than some of what you want to see. Some will continue to advocate for 100% and others will define buildings as something else, and that’s your policy decision. Without the data you can’t make those choices.

    Ian – in that, would it be worthwhile doing some calculations… if we have numbers we can move around more easily with this.

    Elwell – we will do the analysis and then some combining of categories… so we can tell you what the 4 walls and a roof definition applies to. yes, we can do some moving and matching. We’ll be careful that we don’t present the data to sway the decision. You’ve had a conversation about aspects. We’ll give you data with some room to work with it. There are certain groupings that have been discussed tonight. We can be true to that without steering one way or another. Others can advocate. We’ll bring you the information to make the policy decision.

    oscar – I feel like I have a responsibility to say I’m very disappointed. You may think you are acting with rigor and attention to detail, but listening to the last five minutes and the palpable relief and good cheer as you got down to the question of how to subdivided it and delay it for two weeks… this conversation should end tonight with a definition of what is or isn’t a building? It may be trivial…in 20 years if someone watches this, someone being born today… they will think… how was this the conversation. I’ve listened to conversations of the board – parklets – such enthusiasm and hardly any questions. The tone could not be more different. I’m just… this proposal won’t make or break anyone… it is such a small step, and I went to the smallest number, and the conversation went to how to divide that cookie even smaller… and you all appreciate climate change. You aren’t oil execs or climate deniers. It’s death by a thousand cuts and it has been happening for 30 years. If you could ignore the way this has felt personal… these aren’t planned remarks. Try to see how I’m seeing tis, and people in the future see this…

    Tim – now I have to respond to that. Someone hasn’t been listening to me about cow power… many years from now people will wonder why we did cow power… were talking about strategy. In your first paragraph you imply voters want us to pass this, but this thing has expanded.

    Oscar – I don’t think so…

    Tim – we’re not kicking it down the road. We’re asking start o help us accept your recommendation. Liz and I think 42K is too much and the world won’t end in 7 years, Django… this is how sausage is made.

    Daniel – I hear Oscar’s frustration and share it, and as a board of four educated, caring diligent people… the four here today… the fact we can’t decide to do this is a microcosm of this nation’s failure to act over the next several decade. I hope we can think of this as an investment and not an expense. parklets were not cheap. It was the right thing to do. Not every dollar we spend is the same. Everything has its moment or reason. I hope we make this investment. We are called to act on a massive crisis bigger than us, and we get to do our small little bits and hope we do it in a couple of weeks. I share the frustration. WE’re all culpable.

    Liz – this is complex issue and we were presented with complex alternatives and recommendations, so clarification is ok. The greatest thing happened on Jan 20 when Biden reversed all Trumps’ environmental issues. The federal government has mad a great stride for capturing methane gas. We have to put this all together. Just getting more info.

    Ian – I fully support this and encourage the russet of the boated to keep an open mind to the full option 2. I commend Tim for keep[ing it within this board, even if it is a lame duck session.

    Tim – since we are being blunt – it would be easy for me and Liz to vote and let this just die. 2-2 is not passing. It fails. We want to see this through. These implications of being a part of the long history of doing nothing is insulting. Simple either/or thinking… what’s one of the theories of supporting white supremacy. You should reject either or thinking. Activists tell me that OI’m a bad guy for talking thought decisions for the town.

    Oscar – that’s quite a way to respond to what I said. It seemed like a direct comment on me.

    Tim – I’m talking about the gestalt of some of the language we hear from people who are frustrated at a lack of progress. I was frustrated that you told us you were frustrated but we’re getting to a good outcome and we appreciate the work of the committee. I’m will to buy in to cow power despite my reservations. Figuring out the will of the voters is an important part of our job. There have been other comments about a clear will and we’ve refused to talk about it. I don’t think that’s a valid argument. We keep coming back to it. We prioritize – maybe it isn’t the disgust priority. Just need a little more information. It was the everything building up with me, and Oscar spoke eloquently so I shared my frustration as well.

    Daniel – we’ll get more info and come back…

  • Rename a Portion of “Elm Street” as “Lynde Place” – Request from State of Vermont and Recommendation from Town Staff

    Tim – final agenda item is to consider renaming a portion of Elm Street…

    Elwell – there cam a time when every property in the state got renumbered, and some changes to road names to clear up confusion. That happened because of E911 – a public safety measure to have clear addresses for emergency responses. In towns like Brattleboro, the same numbering system was applied and most homes got renumbered… it’s not 2, 4, 6, 8, 10… it is based on distances. It would allow for public safety folks to have a better sense of distances they were going. After that, there have been occasions when the state notices something that needs to come into compliance. The little spur of Elm Street… down the bridge from Canal Street then up to Elliot Street… but there is that little spur that goes down and it is also called Elm Street. The spur has no addresses or driveways, but the state notices that we have a Y shaped Elm Street… it doesn’t comply. The little spur will be renamed, and it seemed clear that loss of Stanley Lynde a few years back, that given the state requires us to rename it, we recommend you approve the name as Lynde Place.

    Tim – Stanley touched so many lives in our community. He came before the board once about flooding. Chief Bucossi, Brian Bannon, Wayne Stires… all advanced the idea. It’s perfect.

    Ian – new signs?

    Elwell – it will function as it always has, with new names.

    Ian – glad I’m finally naming road…

    approved 4-0

    Tim – sorry about the ugly sausage biz…

    adjourn 9:49 pm

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