11/13/2013 Meeting Notes

 North Quabbin Energy Committee Meeting    13 November 2013

Present:  Paul Goyetche, Pat Larson, Linda Paquet, Judith Northup-Bennett,  Steve and Janice Kurkoski,  Donna Caisse.

A.  Town Energy Committee Reports

1. Petersham:  Waiting for ASHRAE report from Bart Bales.  Had hoped to do something before winter on Fire Dept. or Schools but they have to wait for report. Linda is encouraging the school to do a field trip to the Adams Solar Farm.

2.  New Salem:  a) Finishing the insulation on the foundation of the Fire House.      b) The Library has a new heating/cooling system thanks to another Massachusetts DOER energy saving grant.

3.  Warwick:  a) AskingPioneerValleySchool District to reimburse Warwick when spending money on energy saving capital improvements to their elementary school.  The District agreements do not permit this at this time. Other districts have done this:  Gill & Leverett.

4.  Royalston:  Stretch code didn’t pass at a special town meeting in October. (21-18 vote)  Opposition focused on increased costs for construction with a stretch code.  The proponents will try again at regular town meeting.  They’ll use the technical assistance grant to do the town energy audit.

5.  Orange:  4 people traveled to Warren MA to attend the ground breaking for the solar farm that Orange will get net metering from.   This should save the town $75,000 a year.   The next project:  They are monitoring electrical use in the schools.  The group has gone to the MaharSchool District and the new superintendent is interested in energy conservation. Goal is that if the schools conserve and spend less then, the assessments will go down.

6.  Athol:  Working on energy savings programs in schools. 

B.  Potential Film Showings.

1.  Athol Library is closed until Dec. 30.  Royalston or Petersham libraries would be possibility.  Suggestion is to hold off on a film until January.  Possibilities are: SWITCH (through Janice Woods at jwoods@arcosfilms.com  or Amazon): Breaking Ice (available at Orange Library).   Could Aime work with Athol Library to set up a program?

C.  Winsert Workshops

A. National Grid report:  Janice reported on Marie McMahon of National Grid’s interest in finding an organization to do Winsert workshops and set up a network of carpenter craftspeople who could construct Winserts for sale to home owners.

Last year Marie made six Winserts for her home and experimented with different techniques for making them.  She is impressed in the energy savings and would like to start a National Grid supported program to reimburse customers for installing Winserts.  She estimates that they could fund up to $50 reimbursement per Winsert for Winserts designed to last for 5 years.  She has talked to organizations in the Boston area but these groups felt that is was not economically feasible.

She has used North Quabbin Energy materials for her own Winsert construction and research, so she is asking North Quabbin Energy if it would like to do a National Grid funded workshop(~$2,000) for the public and if the group would help to establish a network of carpenters/craftspeople to build the Winserts for the National Grid reimbursement program.

North Quabbin Energy has a list of people/organizations who are interested in these ideas:  Paul Goyetche; Worcester’s Stone Soup organization; CET in Northampton(Center for Ecological Technology); and Neil Anders.

Discussion:  The group had a far-reaching discussion that highlighted the expertise in the North Quabbin Energy group on Winsert workshops and construction.  The group has held several levels of workshops and demonstration sessions on Winserts in the past.  North Quabbin Energy has also produced materials on how to build Winserts. These notes include some, but not all, of the considerations and suggestions in the discussion.

  Janice said  that the goal of the proposed National Grid workshop is to provide an opportunity for 10-20 people to make Winserts for their home, and to search  out and provide training for interested people to become carpenter/craftsperson Winsert-makers.

  There is a weakness in the workshops for the general public:  No follow-up to see if they made more Winserts, did they use the Winserts, how did the Winserts work for them.

  Pricing is a problem.  How much will people pay for a Winsert? How much will it cost for a carpenter/craftsperson to produce a custom Winsert?  How will the craftsperson deliver the product?  Who will measure?(You need a bullet-proof measuring system for the custom production to work)   Marie McMahon estimates that material and labor will cost $15 per Winsert.  What’s included in that price: delivery, consultation, measurement etc. ? Has anyone researched how much companies are charging for their standardized wood and metal framed inserts on the market today?

– Marketing will be challenging for the custom produced Winserts.  Who will determine which craftspeople have the skills to participate in the National Grid reimbursement program?  Will there be an application for the craftspeople to demonstrate their Winsert skills and marketing approach?  Will National Grid certify them? Who will systematize this program so the craftspeople are trained well in both production and selling their product?   North Quabbin does not have the staff to create a program like this.  This is beyond the work of volunteers. 

-Brian Nugent developed much of the early North Quabbin Energy Winsert construction and holds the most expertise in this area.  He has done many workshops and custom building of Winserts.   Other core members worked on publicity, video production of early method, getting small grants for materials, and other aspects of organizing workshops.  Modifications to the early method were made by several people and has since been used in some workshops.  The general consensus was that we need to bring Brian into the conversation.

No Action Taken:   After the discussion, the group decided to postpone any decision on a direction for Winsert development until we received more information from:

  Janice will contact Marie at National Grid and tell her about the group’s concerns and suggestions.  She’ll explain that the group realized that this is bigger than just running one workshop.  A plan needs to be in place for the overall reimbursement program, as well as to find and train the craftsperson who wants to start a small business creating Winserts.  What are National Grid’s  plans for the reimbursement program?  Will there be a request for proposals from interested carpenters/craftspeople?  How will craftspeople be reimbursed?

We don’t have the organizational structure in North Quabbin Energy to do any of this.  We have no paid staff, no formal way of handling money on a regular basis. We can promote the program and set-up workshops.  We can send out notices to our lists, and promote the program by informing our network of town energy committees.  We’re setting up a focus group with 3 interested craftspeople to give National Grid some feedback on their concerns and suggestions.

-Paul will contact Brian and Neil people who have expressed interest in constructing custom Winserts.  He’ll see what Brian and the others think about the feasibility of producing Winserts for customers. 


Next meeting:   We’ll wait to schedule the next meeting until we hear back from Janice and Paul.  We’ll try to get people with expertise and interest in Winsert construction/promotion to the meeting. 

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