On Saturday I went down to a local "Energy Fair" held at a Green Mountain Coffee Roasters facility in downtown Waterbury. Even though it was a nice (better than forecast) spring morning the event was quite well attended. With the skyrocketing cost of heating fuel, fuel for transportation, and many large questions looming about the future of Vermont's current sources of electricity, market forces are bringing these issues to the forefront of many people's minds.
The event kind of had the feel of a town meeting as local political leaders were in attendance and fielded questions from the floor.
I did learn some things at this event. I noticed when doing my taxes that there is a credit available for energy efficiency investments, I will certainly take advantage of this next year, there's plenty of opportunity for me to improve the efficiency of my 20+ year old condo. Also there is a local organization, Carbon Shredders, based in the Mad River Valley that looks to be an interesting clearinghouse of information on energy efficiency and sustainability issues. Also, it was announced that the local landfill (just down the road from here) will start a methane-generation project by the end of this year. It was claimed that this will generate enough power for 2500 homes but that seems quite exaggerated to me.
I do think, however, that are many issues that are still waiting to be addressed. The model of development favored in the United States is very sprawling and spread out. It was mentioned in the Waterbury annual report this year, how Waterbury's network of dirt roads carries much more traffic now than in the past because of development in formerly rural areas. People still aspire to live in a big house on a big lot far from their neighbors and a good distance from their job, schools, shopping, etc.: Consequently the automobile is still an essential daily part of most people's lives. I like living in Waterbury but I do kind of miss living and working in metro Burlington where a car was much less essential.
On the way home (on my bike) I stopped to take some photos of crocuses in town -- there's not much color where I live yet -- more images are here.