By Anna Syrell
Mudge’s worldwide work for democracy makes him right for Vermont Senate
To the Editor:
These days we are reminded every day why we need candidates to volunteer and defend democracy. In our State Senate race we can choose a candidate — Lewis Mudge — who will stand up for democracy and fight for human rights here as he has done in my home country: the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lewis moved to the eastern Congo in 2008 when militias were targeting civilians.
He took up a job to train journalists and later joined Human Rights Watch where he continues to work to this day.
Whether here in Charlotte on the selectboard or working in the Central Africa Republic, Lewis approaches problems with curiosity and humility. He always wants to learn more and hear perspectives. The diplomacy skills he learned in Goma, Bunia and Bukavu eastern in Democratic Republic of Congo have served him well here in Vermont.
I have seen him call people in Charlotte to seek their input on issues and problems, he listens to their side and appreciates what they have to say. We can use more of that in Montpelier.
We also have a chance to elect someone who will promote the voices of new Americans in Montpelier. Lewis understands that new Americans make Vermont, and the country, a better place to be. We know he will advocate for policies that will help new Americans get settled here in Vermont. Vermont can be a challenging place to come to at first, but Lewis in the state Senate will help with that.
Lewis is a man of integrity. We should send him to the state Senate.
CVFRS Seeks Public Discussion of Future for Services
To the Editor:
Since 1950, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, Inc., has provided emergency response services for the Charlotte community. Supported by a combination of public and private funding Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services has established a service level of high availability and high skill with a total focus on delivering service to the community in which we live. Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer board of directors and is composed of volunteers, staff and community members. Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services provides its services to the town of Charlotte under a memorandum of agreement with the town, the most recent revision of which was executed in 2019.
Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services has recently learned that the Charlotte Selectboard intends to establish a municipal fire and rescue department under direct town control. The memorandum of agreement makes provisions for such an eventuality and Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services acknowledges the right of the town to establish its own fire and rescue service. In fact, the increasing challenges of maintaining a volunteer-run organization means some form of organizational evolution is likely to be the best strategy going forward. While we are understandably proud of our more than seven decades of service to Charlotte as a non-political organization, we know that times change and our organization must change with it.
Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services believes, however, that this is not a decision to be taken lightly. To sustain the high quality of services currently in place, such a change requires substantial research, planning and, most importantly, a thorough town discussion to be certain that all parties understand the difficulties of maintaining a fire and rescue service, the potential for increased costs and the risk of interrupted service. To this end, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services believes these discussions should be happening in open meetings within the town rather than in so-called executive sessions.
To be clear, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services does not object to the idea of a municipal department to assume the responsibilities of fire and rescue services. Rather, we believe such a transition should be the subject of a detailed plan implemented over the course of 12-24 months in order to retain staff and maintain uninterrupted service.
Specifically, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services calls upon the town of Charlotte to:
- Hold all meetings in public;
- Conduct meaningful research on the issue of managing a Fire and Rescue service;
- Develop a detailed plan for implementation;
- Provide assurances to the people of Charlotte of a commitment to maintain current service levels;
- Continue to negotiate with our designated committee in good faith.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services is committed fully to:
- Ensuring the continuity of high quality services to the residents of Charlotte;
- Ensuring the maintenance of a good working environment for our employees;
- Conducting all negotiations in good faith.
To this end, Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services has designated a working committee to facilitate communication with the Selectboard regarding these negotiations. The residents of Charlotte, and the services we provide to you, have always been and will always be our highest priority. Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services commits to use its resources and best efforts to ensure a safe and successful transition to whatever form of service organization the people of Charlotte may choose.
(Jared Bomba is acting president of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Board of Directors.)
Vermont renewables need to stay in Vermont
To the Editor:
The Public Service Department has issued a request for public input asking Vermonters for their opinion on where our electricity comes from, and Green Mountain Solar is here to speak up.
We believe that Vermont’s renewable energy policies are not ambitious enough, and in their current status, can be counterproductive by leading to detrimental greenwashing. Vermont should review these policies to align with Vermonters’ demand for truly green energy.
There is a common misconception in Vermont: That our grid is already green enough. The truth is that our current renewable energy policies lead to textbook greenwashing. It all starts with our state’s goal of 90% renewable energy for the electric grid by 2050 as outlined by the States Comprehensive Energy Plan.
When a community member decides to install grid-tied solar, their system produces Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Solar customers are highly incentivized to transfer their RECs to the utilities. If they do not, they face stiff penalties on their net metering rate. RECs that are created from local solar energy and are retired in Vermont are quantified as Tier 2 RECs per Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES). (Retired RECs do not go on to get traded or sold.) According to the RES, there are three tiers of RECs. Tier 1 and Tier 2 are the most important to note during this discussion. Tier 1 RECs only qualification is to be obtained from a carbon-free energy source. Vermont’s energy plan says that 10 percent of our renewable energy should be Tier 2 by 2030 with the remainder coming from Tier 1 renewables.
Being grid-tied and transferring your RECs to the utilities is a positive and assists the state in reaching its goal of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050 — but it goes downhill from here. Unfortunately, these local solar RECs are not retired by our local utilities but instead sold off at a higher price and replaced by low-cost RECs. Most notably, our local solar energy RECs are being sold and replaced with low-cost RECs from Hydro Quebec. Explained simply, Paul Lesure, president of Green Mountain Solar, says, “It’s like selling one $5 pasture-raised egg to buy five $1 factory-farmed eggs just so that the utility can meet its egg requirement.”
This practice is inherently deceptive and directly devalues solar energy produced right here in Vermont. We still get to claim that we are meeting our renewable goals (to continue the egg metaphor: Look at all these eggs we have.), but it’s through a shell-game that bargains away our state’s energy independence and swaps out local, clean solar for problematic hydropower. Yes, hydro is better than fossil fuels, but it is not without its own downsides. Documented by local news outlets, Hydro Quebec has been at the center of controversy for high GHG emissions associated with hydropower and their unethical development practices.
To truly and honestly create an energy-independent and cleaner Vermont, we must strive for a more ambitious goal of 100 percent renewable by 2030 with 20 percent of our energy consumption qualified as Tier 2 renewables.
Green Mountain Solar sees a huge push among Vermonters to go solar — from individuals looking to add solar to their own home or business to groups looking to energize their communities with solar campaigns. Unfortunately, the policy surrounding grid-tied solar in our state does not match our enthusiasm to go solar. For a decade, Vermont was a leader in the solar field, but for the past six years, the state has continuously lowered Vermont incentives. Restricting incentives while having an obvious demand for solar energy directly harms Vermont residents. Tier 2 renewables represent the will and hard work of Vermont locals. “Your friends and family are investing in it, your friends and family are installing it, your friends and family should have access to it,” says Lesure.
An aggressive push for 100 percent renewable by 2030 with 20% qualifying Tier 2 RECs will put Vermont back on the right path. This goal is an opportunity to expand Vermont’s local economy while benefiting our residents, our economy, and our environment. We must call for swift action from our legislators to produce policies that create an energy-resilient, cleaner, and greener Vermont.
We kindly urge Vermonters to echo this sentiment in their own public comments to the Public Service Department by Aug. 15. Together, let’s make our voices heard.
(Baron is communications coordinator for Green Mountain Solar.)