Reluctantly, we will soon say goodbye to Geoff Martin, who has served since July 2020 as our first Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator or IREC for short. Geoff will be taking a position with Norwich Technologies, a local company specializing in solar installations and consulting and parent company of Norwich Solar.
For those who are unfamiliar with the position, the IREC is funded by seven towns — Barnard, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Woodstock, Norwich, and Bradford — and by the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission (TRORC) that provides the IREC with office facilities, among other things. Geoff’s role is to help the seven towns meet the goals of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan by developing programs for energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Geoff wears many hats related to energy. In Thetford, he worked with the Town Manager, the Selectboard, and Energy Efficiency Inc. over the course of a year to hammer out the details and price tag of a major HVAC upgrade for Town Hall. Thanks to Geoff’s work, the Town qualified for free energy audits. Thetford’s Green Procurement Policy was arrived at through coordination among the IREC, the Energy Committee, and the Town Manager. Geoff also organized a demonstration by the Richmond Police Department of their Tesla Model 3. Although the Tesla did not seem the best fit for Thetford’s police, more options are in the pipeline, and it was informative to see other police departments in transition to electric vehicles.
Then there are more projects — for instance, inventorying the Town’s greenhouse gas emissions. Now that he has calculated the 2021 baseline from the inventory, we can track the Town’s progress in reducing carbon pollution. Geoff also drafted the financial section of a feasibility study on installing electric vehicle charging stations in Thetford.
Another significant development that Geoff initiated and continues to work on is the proposed expansion of Thetford Elementary School’s solar array in order to benefit the school, the town, and residents. Among many tasks, he has put forward language that would allow low-income residents to purchase electricity from the array at a discount.
Multiply all this by seven towns, throw in many meetings and presentations, and one can see the IREC is a busy person.
Part of the IREC’s role is also to plan for the future, and in this regard Geoff has been meeting regularly with representatives from all seven towns to work on a Climate Action Plan. This would be modeled after the VT Climate Action Plan that was adopted by the state government’s Climate Council in December of 2021. The state’s Climate Action Plan identifies 26 pathways to decelerate climate change, including insulating homes, electrifying more transportation, and ensuring the resilience and viability of farms, forests, and other ecosystems.
Geoff’s energy, quiet good humor, and dedication will be missed. Town Manager Bryan Gazda and the Thetford Energy Committee have very much enjoyed working with him. But at least he’s not going very far; the office of Norwich Technologies is down the road in White River Junction.
Photo credit Geoff Martin