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Upper Valley Green Power Challenge

On behalf of Sustainable Hanover, we are reaching out to you and other clean energy advocates to  announce the Upper Valley Green Power Challenge.  We invite you to join us in introducing this unique opportunity for everyone in your community to switch from “brown” to Green-e certified electricity.

The Challenge is a buying group which originated in 2015 as the Hanover Green Power Challenge.  In its first year, Challenge members bought 2.5 million kilowatt hours of Green-e certified electricity avoiding greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving over 4 million miles!

Many neighbors from surrounding communities are already in the Challenge along with Hanover residents and businesses. Our new name – the Upper Valley Green Power Challenge – recognizes that the growing support for renewable energy is region-wide.

We are proud to have the support of Vital Communities to let people know that there is a way to access 100% renewable energy even if they’re not able to solarize independently at this time. Any resident or small business is eligible if they have a NH utility account.

The program is detailed on the FAQ available here. The FAQ includes the link to sign up online.

Please note enrollment in the buying group is time-limitedEnrollment ends on October 31, 2016.

Thank you for all that you do for our sustainable future.


Yolanda Baumgartner and Marjorie Rogalski

Co-Chairs, Sustainable Hanover

Green Energy Times Wants Your Input

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CESA, Five States, and D.C. Awarded $1.73 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to Improve Solar Access for Low- and Moderate-Income Residents

Three-year Project to Develop New State Solar Plans and Programs
Montpelier, VT — The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national nonprofit organization, has received a $1.73 million award under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative to help Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Rhode Island increase solar power adoption by low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents.
Consumers of all income levels can potentially save money by going solar, but LMI households have been less able than other income groups to participate in the solar market up to now. This raises questions of equity. Addressing the challenges that prevent lower-income residents from accessing the economic benefits of solar will also allow the participating states to more fully realize the economic and environmental benefits of solar.
Under this grant, the participating states will explore the best ways of increasing LMI adoption of solar, given each state’s circumstances. The states will develop and implement the most promising strategies to meet their respective goals, with involvement from key stakeholders in their states.
“This project will tackle one of the most important challenges facing future solar development,” said Warren Leon, Executive Director of CESA. “The five states and the District of Columbia are all committed to expanding low-income access to solar power and ensuring that solar development proceeds in an equitable manner. We are excited to be partnering with them.”
With U.S. DOE SunShot funding, CESA and the states will identify needed analysis and acquire the information, input, and expertise that are essential for designing and implementing successful state LMI solar strategies. This focused effort will help the states to develop and implement the most effective plans for appropriately increasing LMI solar adoption, and to share their strategies with other states.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will provide research support and technical assistance for this initiative. Specific research projects will be determined by the needs of the states.
The lead state agencies for the states participating in this project are the Connecticut Green Bank; the D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment; the Minnesota Department of Commerce; the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department; the Oregon Department of Energy (in conjunction with Energy Trust of Oregon); and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources. CESA will coordinate the project and, together with the national laboratories, provide technical assistance to the states.

Big Victory for Regional Planning, Act 250

The Vermont Supreme Court issued a decision on October 21, 2016 overturning a Vermont Environmental Court decision that approved a large, multi-use development project adjacent to I-89’s Exit 1 in Hartford.    The Environmental Court approved the project on appeal after the District 3 Environmental Commission denied the project, finding that it did not conform to the Regional Plan.

The Supreme Court heard the case after both the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) and the Vermont Natural Resources Board (NRB), which oversees Act 250, appealed the decision.

VNRC and Preservation Trust of Vermont, represented by the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic at the Vermont Law School, filed an Amicus brief supporting the regional commission and the NRB. In addition to VNRC’s friend of the court status, a key witness for the TRORC was current VNRC Board Chair Elizabeth Humstone.

Peter Gregory, executive director of TRORC, was pleased with the decision, stating, [“T]he Supreme Court was crystal clear on the value and weight of regional planning in Act 250 proceedings. This establishes an even stronger precedent for that input.”

VNRC Executive Director Brian Shupe agreed with Gregory. “This decision affirms the vital role that regional plans – and by extension municipal plans ­– play in the Act 250 process.  In its unanimous decision the Court sent a clear message that Act 250 Commissions need to defer to plan provisions when they clearly signal that development is contrary to a town or regions land use goals,” said Shupe.

“What’s more, it’s clear that Commissions need to consider Vermont’s longstanding planning principles of concentrating development in our traditional centers when applying plan provisions to a project,” Shupe said.

Approving this project, despite the very clear regional plan language, would “undermine the viability of regional planning in this state,” the Court wrote in its decision.  According to Shupe, “the Court also affirmed the ability of planning commissions to restrict development at interstate interchanges, areas that we know, from our recent work on Exit 4, are especially vulnerable to sprawl and strip development.”

GMP’s Solar Storage Project Becomes First in New England to Use Solar Battery Storage to Reduce Peak Demand

Saves Customers $200,000 in Just One Hour by Reducing Peak Power Demand

Colchester, Vt – Green Mountain Power’s Stafford Hill Solar Farm in Rutland, one of the nation’s first micro-grids powered solely by solar and battery back-up, is now the first in the region to use battery storage to reduce peak power usage, benefiting customers by saving $200,000 in one hour.

Stafford Hill is also the first and only project currently providing fast-acting power when the grid needs it as renewable energy fluctuates during the day and night.  This is another way the project lowers costs for customers. This new market in New England is key to helping the grid provide reliable power as the region uses more renewable energy.

When first announced, Stafford was a stand-out project for two distinct reasons: its location on a capped landfill making use of the land in a new and creative way, and its battery storage used to power an emergency shelter at Rutland High School. Now GMP is taking it a step further.

“When we combine solar and battery storage, it opens a whole world of possibilities for our customers, and reducing peak demand saving $200,000 in just one hour is one example of how we’re delivering on our promise to customers,” said Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power. “This is the future of energy and it’s never been more exciting. GMP is helping customers generate power from clean, affordable energy sources closer to where it is used, and when paired with battery storage that energy can be used during outages and to help reduce peak energy demand, reducing costs for all customers.”

Green Mountain Power hit its annual peak on August 12th this year when the weather was nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The Company was able to reduce its overall energy demand by using both the solar generated at Stafford Hill and all the energy stored in the batteries during the hour that New England hit its annual peak. Utilities are charged year-round according to the percent they contribute to the overall New England peak during that hour, so by significantly reducing GMP’s peak use during that hour, the Stafford Hill project saved customers approximately $200,000.

“Through careful planning, we anticipated when the New England peak load would occur, and worked tirelessly to ensure that control technology would enable us to draw down the power from Stafford Hill providing significant benefit to customers,” said Powell.

“Reducing Vermont’s peak load delivers significant cost savings and environmental benefits.   GMP has done great work here and it’s really just the beginning”, said Tom Dunn, VELCO President and CEO. “Going forward, we are working collaboratively with GMP and other utilities to build on their innovative work to secure even greater customer savings statewide.”

GMP’s Stafford Hill combines 2 megawatts of solar panels with 3.4 megawatt-hours of battery storage, which smooths out generation from the facility and also allows the solar to disconnect from the grid to provide critical power for the emergency shelter. Renewable Energy Credits from Stafford Hill and most larger generation facilities are sold, and all proceeds are used to reduce electricity rates for customers even further.


How To Green Up Your Halloween

Reprinted with permission from EarthTalk® From the Editors of E – The Environmental Magazine


Halloween may be fun, but…this most ghoulish of holidays is also cause for lots of waste, given the preponderance of one-time use costumes that end up in a box or in the trash come November 1. And sustainability proponents also decry Halloween for promoting unhealthy eating habits, as obesity and diabetes rates among American kids continue to skyrocket. So what’s a green Halloween reveler to do?

Back in 2006, a Bellevue, Washington mom named Corey Colwell-Lipson wondered the same thing. Fearing the worst, she took her two-year-old trick-or-treating anyway and was delighted to find a few of the houses in her neighborhood handing out non-candy treats like bubbles and stickers. “I was so thrilled that someone thought outside the candy-box that, while shouting, ‘Thank You!’ at the top of my lungs, I made a note to myself to remember to trick-or-treat at these homes the following year,” she recalls. “But after winding through several streets in the dark, I had already forgotten which homes were candy-free.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if there were a sign you could place on your door or window that notified trick-or-treaters that their upcoming treat would be healthy?’” Colwell-Lipson wondered. “This way, parents could seek out those homes and turn trick-or-treating into a scavenger hunt—a hunt for treasures rather than treats.” Thus the idea for Green Halloween was born.

These days, some 10 years later, Halloween is greener across the country thanks to Colwell-Lipson’s pioneering efforts. In 2012, Green America, the non-profit membership organization with the mission of harnessing economic power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society, put its muscle behind Green Halloween and expanded the program nationwide.

With Halloween right around the corner, there’s no time like the present to get started. Host a costume swap in your neighborhood or at your kid’s school, or both. This way everyone can the save money and reduce the waste associated with buying new costumes off-the-shelf at the store. Spread the word far and wide so others can join the costume swap and spread the good green Halloween cheer.

Another easy way to green Halloween is by swapping out the KitKats and Tootsie Rolls with healthier alternatives. LaraBars, Stretch Island Fruit Strips, Glee Gum, Bitsy’s Brainfood, Cascadian Farm Bars and Surf Sweets are a few of the many healthier alternatives to look for at your local Whole Foods that still will keep you in the good graces of neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

Green America has also teamed up with dozens of zoos and aquariums as well as different community partners across the country to host sustainability-oriented community-wide Green Halloween celebrations. Activities will vary at these events, but participants can look forward to responsible trick-or-treating, face painting and other ways to make it a memorable yet sustainable All Hallow’s Eve.

But you don’t have to rely on anyone else to make your Halloween green. Green America’s free online “Volunteer Coordinator’s Guide” lays the groundwork for doing it yourself. Happy Halloween!

CONTACTS: Green America,; Green Halloween,; Surf Sweets,; Stretch Island Fruit Co.,; Larabar,; Glee Gum,; Bitsy’s Brainfood,; Cascadian Farm,

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network.

Urge Gov. Cuomo to Say Yes to Geothermal with the Sierra Club!

Take Action

A bill is awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature that could make a big difference for New York’s environment and our clean energy economy!

A.9925/S.6249 creates important tax incentives for the development of geothermal energy systems -innovative technology that uses thermal energy stored in the Earth and brings that energy into homes and businesses through a series of pumps and heat exchangers. 

Will you send a message to Governor Cuomo asking him to sign this legislation and allow this renewable technology to flourish?

Buildings consume 40% of the total energy used in New York State every day, mostly via natural gas, propane, home heating oil combustion or electrical resistance heating. Fossil fuel combustion and electricity production (via gas/coal fired power plants or nuclear facilities) have negative environmental consequences through greenhouse gas emissions, generation of toxic waste and air pollution, excessive use of water resources and harmful extraction mining. These impacts are significantly minimized by geothermal heating and cooling. Since geothermal technology uses energy stored in the ground, it is not dependent on time of day or year, and works in all weather and in every climate.

In addition, this technology has a positive economic effect on the state’s utilities because it lowers the need for expensive energy infrastructure that is only needed a few days of the year when temperatures exceed 90 F and use of air conditioning spikes. When geothermal systems are installed in homes and businesses, indoor air quality improves and operational costs for heating and cooling are lowered – passing the savings on to the consumer.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are New York’s best alternative for achieving net zero energy goals, but in order to promote and facilitate the technology’s growth, it deserves the same financial encouragement as other desirable energy sources like wind and solar.

Please take a moment to voice your support for this important geothermal tax incentive. Thank you for taking action and for all you do for New York’s environment!

Bob Ciesielski
Chair, Energy Committee
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter

PS: Be sure to take action today and share this petition on Facebook and Twitter!

October 24 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • With the Omaha Public Power District’s closure of its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant clearing the way, renewable generation will fill the void left by the 478-MW plant. OPPD will virtually double the portion of renewable energy it receives by the time the new year rolls around, as newly built sources come online. [Omaha World-Herald]
Grande Prairie wind farm (Megan Farmer / The World Herald)

Grande Prairie wind farm (Megan Farmer / The World Herald)

  • “Oil industry must back workable climate policies” • If the oil industry does not support sensible climate policies, it will suffer from stupid ones. Rex Tillerson, chief executive of ExxonMobil, last week complained about a “hodgepodge” of climate policies. But large oil companies have only themselves to blame for lack of clarity. [The National]
  • Greece will run its first renewable energy tender on December 12. It is a pilot tender for a total capacity of at least 40 MW which is reserved solely for solar PV projects. The country’s energy regulator said about 130 MW of PV projects had already received grid connection licenses before the approval process was suspended in 2012. [pv magazine]
  • Target has hit a solar energy bullseye. The Minneapolis-based retail giant topped all other American big businesses going solar, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association. In the 2016 Solar Means Business report, Target knocked out former champion Walmart. It was a close race, however. [CleanTechnica]
  • A Chicago green-energy developer is proposing the largest infusion of renewable power yet for Long Island, a mix of wind and solar sources in disparate locations as far away as North Carolina and West Virginia. Invenergy already has LIPA approval for a large commercial solar array in Shoreham, New York. [Newsday]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

October 23 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “India’s Solar Power Is Set to Outshine Coal” • India wants to provide its entire population with electricity and lift millions out of poverty, but in order to prevent the world overheating it also needs to switch away from fossil fuels. Different analysts disagree on the future of Indian power generation, but solar power costs are dropping. [Truthdig]
India One Solar Thermal Power Plant (Brahma Kumaris via Flickr)

India One Solar Thermal Power Plant (Brahma Kumaris via Flickr)

  • “Coal will not recover” • As recently as 10 years ago, coal provided half of America’s electric power needs. Today that number is closer to 30% and falling. Coal is not likely to fade entirely from the scene any time soon, but informed analysts see its share of the US energy mix dropping to less than 20% in the near future. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • American Municipal Power dedicated West Virginia’s newest hydroelectric plant at the Willow Island Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Pleasants County. At the ceremony, US Senator Shelley Moore Capito said the regulatory process required for a hydroelectric plant took too long and should be streamlined. [The Exponent Telegram]
  • A pending settlement between Xcel Energy and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission would give ratepayers a break based on time of use, so they can get lower rates by running a dryer at night, for example. It would also give them the option of buying power produced entirely by renewable sources such as wind and solar. [Pueblo Chieftain]
  • The Bureau of Land Management will hold a competitive geothermal lease sale later this month in Sacramento, offering parcels in California, Nevada and Utah. For Utah, it will be the first time federal geothermal resources have been up for bid in six years, and a total of 15,782 acres of public lands will be offered. []

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

October 22 Energy News

Headline News:

  • A year ago, no one living in Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, had electricity. By the spring of 2016, the town had a brand new grid, and it will soon run completely on solar and wind energy. Sigora International plans to get electricity to 300,000 people in Haiti by the end of 2017. By the end of 2018, they hope to reach a million people. [Co.Exist]
Electric work in Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti

Electric work in Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti

  • A Fitch Ratings and Bloomberg both warn of a meltdown in the oil industry. The Fitch report warns that this could begin in 2023, based on “an acceleration of the electrification of transport infrastructure,” which it says “would be resoundingly negative for the oil sector’s credit profile.” Bloomberg says it might be as late as 2028. [Gas 2.0]
  • According to a World Bank report, the cost of climate change mitigation could be reduced 32% by 2030, by increasing global cooperation through carbon trading. There are 40 national jurisdictions and over 20 cities, states, and regions, that are already putting a price on carbon, covering 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. [CleanTechnica]
  • Engineers from the NASA Glenn Research Center have begun testing new, electric aircraft technologies at a new facility. NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed facility will become “a world-class, reconfigurable testbed that will be used to assemble and test the power systems for large passenger airplanes with over 20 MW of power.” [CleanTechnica]
  • Solar power capacity in the US will have nearly tripled in size in less than three years by 2017, according to monthly data published by the US DOE. This is amid an energy shakeup that has seen natural gas solidify its position as the country’s chief source of electricity and coal power increasingly becoming obsolete. [The Guardian]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Two Utilities Are Stowe-ing Away Impressive Solar

Progress in Lamoille County, Vermont

Hyde Park solar array, developed by Encore Renewables, based in Burlington, Vermont. Photos courtesy of Encore Renewables.

Hyde Park solar array, developed by Encore Renewables, based in Burlington, Vermont. Photos courtesy of Encore Renewables.

By Green Energy Times Staff

A lot has been going on in Lamoille County, Vermont. The Electric Departments of Stowe and Hyde Park have both commissioned solar arrays, each providing one megawatt AC capacity. Governor Peter Shumlin joined with state and local leaders to celebrate the event.

Both arrays were developed by Encore Renewable Energy, which was responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of the projects. Encore, based in Burlington, Vermont, attended to siting, design, permitting, financing, construction, and commissioning activities associated with each project. The actual construction was performed by Namaste Solar of Boulder, Colorado, who utilized a number of locally based electrical and site civil contractors. Namaste was chosen under a competitive procurement processes overseen by Encore, and the concurrent construction of the two projects allowed for significant cost savings as compared to having each project constructed independently of each other.

 Stowe solar array

Stowe solar array

Project financing came from the federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program issued by the US Treasury and facilitated by the Vermont Economic Development Authority and Union Bank. In both cases, the arrays provide power at costs well below those of solar power through power purchase agreements with third parties for similarly sized projects.

Both Hyde Park and Stowe have their own electric departments, which function as small, local utilities. The Stowe project is sited at a gravel pit owned by the Town of Stowe in an area no longer used for gravel extraction. Such land has very few good uses and siting a solar array on it is a particularly attractive way to provide value to the Town from an otherwise underutilized property. The Hyde Park project is sited next to the largest commercial customer within the municipal electric service territory.

Stowe’s array is capable of supplying 2.2% of the town’s electric needs, enough for about 229 local households, according to the Stowe Electric Department. The array in Hyde Park is the same size, but will supply 14% of the electrical needs of the smaller community. The arrays will help both the towns and the state of Vermont move toward elimination of fossil fuel use and provide mitigation from mandatory compliance payments required under Vermont’s recently enacted Renewable Energy Standard.

Stowe has done more to eliminate use of fossil fuels than just setting up a solar array. The town’s electric utility has installed ten electric charging stations at as many locations in the town. There are nine level 2 stations and one, at the Alchemist Brewery, which is level 3 and can charge a car in 30 minutes or less. All stations are available to the public 24 hours per day. They are as follows:

  • The Alchemist Brewery, 100 Cottage Club Road

  • Spruce Peak, 206 Spruce Peak Road

  • Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, 1208 Cape Cod Road

  • Stowe High School – 413 Barrows Road

  • Stowe Kitchen and Bath – 1813 Mountain Road

  • Stowe Rec. Path – Rec. Path parking lot in Village

  • Stowe Village – 2 Park Place

  • Sun and Ski Inn and Suites – 1613 Mountain Road

  • Town and Country Resort – 876 Mountain Road

  • Trapps Brewery – 1333 Luce Hill

Jen Kimmich, owner of the Alchemist Brewery, commented on the charging station at her business. “All of us here at The Alchemist are thrilled to have an electric vehicle fast charger on our property. We are grateful the Stowe Electric Department provided us with this opportunity. This is not only a great resource for our visitors and community members, but also an incredible incentive for our employees, as we all focus on decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

There is more information at the following sites:

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Streamlining Efficiency in Corporate Fleets

Hybrid powered Coca-Cola delivery truck in Washington, D.C. will be the type of vehicle that will come into greater use with new mandates regarding mid to large size vehicles. Photo by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Hybrid powered Coca-Cola delivery truck in Washington, D.C. will be the type of vehicle that will come into greater use with new mandates regarding mid to large size vehicles. (Photo by Mariordo.  CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Hope O’Shaughnessy

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) mandated a new fuel-efficiency standard for medium and heavy duty vehicles with a 25% reduction mandated for 2018. The new rule will cut carbon while improving fuel efficiency. According to the EPA’s press release, “the final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.”

According to statistics from the U.S. EPA, between 1990 and 2013, freight activity grew by over 50 percent and is projected to nearly double again by 2040, producing more greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions. The EPA also notes that experts project that by 2050, global freight transport emissions of CO2 will surpass emissions from passenger vehicles.

Technology such as the EPA’s SmartWay will be one of the ways companies can start to tackle carbon use. SmartWay brings together freight and transportation stakeholders with the EPA to measure and improve logistics operations to aid efficiency.

Oakhurst truck

Oakhurst Dairy truck

The SmartWay tool is being used by a total of 128 companies in NY, NH, VT, MA and ME. New York tops the list with 74 SmartWay partners. In New Hampshire, six companies use this tool to provide better data on their fleet’s energy consumption including such companies as Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry. Seventh Generation in Burlington is the sole company using the tool in Vermont. Massachusetts tops out the list with 38 companies using the tool. Maine has nine companies using SmartWay including Oakhurst Dairy.

States like New Hampshire have initiated collaborative efforts to increase fleet efficiency. The NH Department of Environmental Services promotes The Granite State Clean Cities Coalition that brings business, government and residents together to tackle carbon use.

The Granite State Clean Cities Coalition (GSCCG) includes 120 public and private interests who support the goals of reducing dependence on foreign oil and improving air quality, through the use of domestically produced, cleaner-burning alternative fuels and other fuel reduction strategies.

This summer the GSCCG gathered fleet managers, businesses and the public for its fourth Green Your Fleet! Conference and Advance Technology Vehicle Exhibit. Attendees learned more about alternative fuels, including electricity, propane and natural gas, as well as advanced-technology vehicles, such as electric and hybrid-electric cars.

Many thanks to our sponsor: