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Retrofit Ramp-Up rollout in Plymouth


June 24, 2010
PLYMOUTH — The New Hampshire Beacon Communities Project will kickoff the Retrofit Ramp-Up Program in Plymouth with a public informational meeting to be held Monday night, June 28, during the regular Select Board meeting at 6 p.m. in Town Hall. All interested residents, business leaders and community partners are encouraged to attend.

Earlier this year Plymouth was chosen as one of three New Hampshire communities to participate in the innovative Beacon Communities Project designed to create model "transformative communities" by reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. The other New Hampshire communities participating in the federally funded, nationwide program are Nashua and Berlin.

Plymouth was chosen because of a proven track record of success in energy efficiency initiative, outreach and public education through the efforts of the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI), the Town Energy Committee (now the Energy Commission), Plymouth State University and the New Hampshire Electric Co-op.

The Retrofit Ramp-Up Program will implement a strategy of "hyper-investing" in energy efficiency retrofits of homes, businesses and municipal buildings in the target communities through establishing innovative financing mechanisms, including a State Revolving Loan Fund to encourage private energy efficiency upgrades. According to New Hampshire Department of Energy Policy Analyst Eric Steltzer, the intention is to leverage public funds to spur private investments, to reduce barriers to property owner investment in energy efficiency and ultimately to achieve a "sustainable and replicable" model for transformation of the energy market. Retrofit Ramp-Up is less about providing grant funds for rebates, than creating financing mechanisms to encourage investment. Phase II of the Beacon Communities Project will focus on reproducing the model in communities throughout New Hampshire.

Steltzer says the program will be effective only by actively engaging the public in the process. He says that Monday night's informational session is just the first of many meetings that will be scheduled in the weeks and months ahead to solicit input from community members and to draw homeowners and business leaders into the effort. The Town of Plymouth is slated to receive $200,000 in support for local energy efficiency intitiatives in the Retrofit Ramp-Up part of the Beacon Communities grant in New Hampshire. The focus is on energy efficiency upgrades on existing buildings.

"While utilizing state and federal resources, the Retrofit Ramp-Up has to be community driven," says Steltzer. "We need feedback about the best way to structure the program and deliver the products and services to meet the needs of the community. The key thing is that the program is still being developed and we want local stakeholders to be involved in deciding how it will work." He hopes that homeowners, retailers, energy service contractors, business owners, energy commission members, activists and others in the emerging new energy efficiency industry will become actively involved in the program.

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