Many in attendance expressed support for investing the money in Stafford Technical Center to allow students to work on an alternative energy project involving solar and wind technology -- teaching students how to install and maintain solar/wind hardware. The solar arrays and wind turbine would be located on campus (or nearby), which would create a high profile project that draw attention to alternative energy as well as our investment in teaching area technical students valuable skills in green careers . While STC only serves a handful of high school in the region, it does have a broader benefit if we look at it in terms of job creation.
Another suggestion that got some support was using the $40K to create a new staff position at the RRPC. The position, as it was discussed by the group, would organize a regional energy committee to replace the individual town energy committees. In the capacity, the staffer would be available to go after grant dollars, tax credits, and other energy opportunities for the towns and cities in Rutland County.
We like the latter idea because a staffer could potentially secure money for the former STC project as well as any number of other energy initiatives throughout the county. However, money should be used to create an entirely new position -- putting more responsibilities on the current RRPC staff doesn't seem fair or particularly efficient. A qualified individual with a background in development/grant writing and a sincere dedication to energy conservation could potentially be a valuable asset to the county.
Through the entire discussion, one theme that seemed to be unanimously agreed upon was energy conservation and efficiency. More than anything changing people attitudes about energy conservation requires a change in culture. And that's difficult work. To be sure, it's not impossible; it's just slow, incremental change. But in the end, conservation and efficiency -- responsible energy use -- is the real solution.
For more information about the RRPC's energy committee click here.