Renewable Energy Vermont's new director ready for action
BRATTLEBORO >> Renewable Energy Vermont is made up of people Olivia Campbell Andersen calls "energy leaders."
"Really, Vermont is leading in success of switching from a dirtier, fossil fuel-based energy supply to clean renewable energy, reducing air pollution and addressing climate change," she said. "That's who we are."
Andersen started as REV's fifth executive director in late February but was fully settling in at the end of May. That's when she visited Brattleboro to meet with members of the town's Energy Committee and others interested in reaching the state's energy goal. Vermont is looking to have 90 percent of all its energy to come from renewable sources by 2050.
REV is focused on advocacy for policy on both state and local levels. Besides trying to find ways to meet the state's goal, the group provides education and puts on an event called Celebrate Solar that will fall on June 18 this year. Sites all over Vermont will open their doors to visitors who want to see how solar projects work. To find one, visit revermont.org.
Andersen was in Brattleboro on May 26 to learn about energy issues specific to the community and to talk about solutions. Some may involve technology while others might require innovation, she said.
As an alumna of the Vermont Law School with a background in environmental policy and law, Andersen began her career at the National Wildlife Federation. There, she advocated for reducing pollution from coal fire-powered plants. Raised on a family farm in southern Maryland, she said she was always bringing "all kinds of critters" indoors and making mud structures in the yard, much to her mother's dismay.
REV recently created a renewable energy business listing for Vermont on its website. The group collaborated with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation for the project that seeks to connect residents with experts and installers of solar panels, solar hot water systems and modern wood pellet boilers.
Andersen said her group urged the Public Service Board to continue a strong net-metering program.
"There are a number of customers who already made the choice to have renewable energy projects and they're stalled because of the net-metering cap in their specific docket," she continued. "They are shovel-ready projects but they can't move forward. They're waiting on decisions from the PSB."
On Thursday, Andersen issued a statement on the passage of S.230, which is legislation intended to give communities more say on renewable energy projects.
"We applaud the Legislature for its effort to quickly and collaboratively pass a simple fix of S.230 to help communities move forward with the resources they need to achieve Vermont's clean energy and climate pollution reduction goals," she stated. "Today Vermont's legislators sent a clear message that local, clean wind energy should be a part of Vermont's climate solutions."
REV also encouraged the PSB to make guidelines for participating in its permitting process clearer for citizens to understand. Andersen said the group wants to see information posted online once a project has a certificate of public good so it can be better known.
Currently, she said, even her group can have difficulties getting the information.
"Probably part of it is because the board has a small staff and they have a high volume of work," she said.
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
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