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MERP MINI GRANT APPLICATIONS CLOSING MAY 31, 2024—MEMO

Thanks to everyone who has deployed these funds to improve community energy resilience! If you have a unique or inspiring Mini Grant story, please reach out to your RPC to share the details. We always seek to spotlight municipalities working hard to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

***If you have been awarded a Mini Grant, please remember to complete your financial report.***

Community Capacity Building Mini-Grants

These grants fund municipal efforts for capacity building and active participation in energy resilience initiatives, specific to MERP and beyond. Municipalities may conduct community education and outreach regarding Vermont's climate policies and incentives to cut energy costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy resilience in municipally owned buildings. These grants can also be used to identify potential candidate buildings for MERP's free Energy Resilience Assessments and Implementation Grants of up to $500,000.

These grants can be used for:

  • Hiring a municipal official as a MERP community engagement project manager. 
  • Hiring a consultant to ensure project readiness and competitiveness when Implementation Grants open, such as completing an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) building assessment.
  • Contracting a technical assistance provider such as Vermont League of Cities and Towns or your Regional Planning Commission for items related to a MERP project but outside of the program scope.
  • Establishing a municipal energy committee and/or amplifying existing committee work. 
  • Printing energy resilience materials including posters or mailers for local residents and businesses. 
  • Expenses for community energy resilience meetings—event space rental, equipment, food, childcare, etc. 
  • Creating or enhancing a website or social media presence related to energy resilience.
  • Other efforts to promote community energy resilience or establish a municipal energy resilience plan.

*Mini Grant Spotlights*

Brattleboro, VT

Chittenden Button Up EventWhen towns have buy-in from local businesses to support resilient energy, it is easier for community members to participate too. This spring, the town of Brattleboro started an electric vehicle (EV) charging working group to facilitate just that. Stephen Dotson, the town’s sustainability coordinator has been working over the last 2 years to make the siting and development process for EV charging stations more transparent; identify municipal and commercial properties that are strategically located, and have ample power supply to support chargers; and garner interest for businesses to install chargers themselves.

Using the MERP Mini Grant and the town’s Global Warming Solutions Fund, Brattleboro contracted with A.B. Precision Electric to be a consultant for the newly formed EV charging working group—shedding light on the rapidly evolving EV supply equipment market, siting requirements and constraints, and project costs and incentives. The working group has expanded to surrounding towns including Putney, Wilmington, Guilford, and Rockingham, and local businesses including the Brattleboro Food Co-op and Saxtons River Distillery. The goal of the working group, in addition to community outreach, is to scope EVSE projects for Brattleboro’s municipal buildings and participating small businesses so that they can go out to bid for equipment installations.

Chittenden, VT

Chittenden Button Up EventCommunity engagement in the energy transition has multi-pronged benefits: lower emissions, lower costs, and greater comfort—especially in places like Vermont, where winters are tough and heating costs can be volatile. With their MERP Mini Grant, the Town of Chittenden partnered with Efficiency Vermont and the Rutland Regional Planning Commission to host a highly attended "Button Up" event for residents, promoting the benefits of weatherization projects as the foundation for building energy efficiency improvements—and how MERP, along with other funding, can make those projects a reality. Attendees came for dinner, dessert, and knowledge sharing. Some even left with raffle prizes, including a battery-powered leaf blower and Smart thermostat! See this RRPC flyer for more details.

Reading, VT

Reading VT Energy FairNot sure how to spend your Mini Grant? Read this case study about how the Reading Energy Board worked with the Mount Ascutney Regional Commission to put theirs towards an incredibly successful town energy fair, for residents of all ages! Community members enjoyed a free lunch, demoed electric cars and e-bikes, and spoke to their neighbors and friends about personal experiences with home weatherization, heat pumps, and other ways that folks in Reading are using renewable energy to meet their residential needs. Efficiency Vermont tabled the event as well, providing information on energy-saving incentives for Vermonters.

In light of the state's devastating flooding this summer, the event inspired some impacted residents to incorporate energy conservation measures into their rebuilding—emphasizing the need for energy and climate resilience in Vermont's small towns.

“Storytelling is essential in this movement...You have to provide inspiration. It was so helpful having a cross-section of folks from town talking honestly about their own experiences.”  - Brian Cali, Reading Energy Board