News

Funding Sought for New Solar Array at SEVCA’s Westminster office

Community Solar for Community Action--A New Way to Provide Energy Assistance

Over 33 million American households struggle with energy poverty, forcing them to make difficult choices between home energy and other basic necessities, such as health care, housing, or adequate nutrition. According to a recent Vermont Law School study, energy poverty affects 1 in 5 Vermonters. Currently, the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which in Vermont includes supplemental state funding and is administered by the Department of Children and Families, offers seasonal fuel assistance and temporary emergency relief to low-income residents. However, a stopgap is not a solution, and energy assistance costs billions of dollars annually. Furthermore, fuel assistance for electricity is currently delivered directly to utilities, leaving low-income households with little choice in where their energy comes from. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), low- and moderate-income households make up 40% of the nation’s population but less than 5% of all solar power customers. A lack of resources and viable financing options to make upfront investments in solar create barriers that prevent this population from accessing renewable energy opportunities.

SEVCA will build, own, and manage an innovative community solar installation that will use virtual net metering credits to deliver solar energy assistance directly to Windham and Windsor County households with high energy burdens (see Project Details, below). This project, Community Solar for Community Action, will demonstrate a new, nationally replicable model of energy assistance, enabling low-income households to meet their energy needs while supporting the development of renewable energy resources.

SEVCA has partnered with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), a Minnesota-based nonprofit, which is helping to develop the project as part of the Solar in Your Community Challenge, a national competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This $5 million contest aims to stimulate the development of “innovative and replicable community-based solar business models and programs that will bring solar to underserved communities.” (https://www.solarinyourcommunity.org/)  

In addition to grants raised by RREAL, SEVCA was awarded a grant of $111,000 from the Windham Regional Commission’s Renewable Energy Grant Program to help make the project a reality. SEVCA can only utilize the full amount of this grant if we raise enough matching funds to support the project!  Some donors have already stepped up to contribute this match and ensure the development of a renewable energy source that will provide energy assistance to low income Vermonters for at least the next 25 years.

We are looking for more donors to help out! If you support more sustainable communities and want to help ensure that area low-income households can meet their basic needs for heat and electricity in a more environmentally-friendly way, we’d love to hear from you!

You can donate easily online at: https://my.rreal.org/campaign/vermont-community-solar-for-community-action/c186577.  Alternatively, contact Becky Himlin, SEVCA's Director of Development and Planning, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (802) 722-4575.

PROJECT DETAILS

The project will consist of a 109.7 kW ground- and roof-mounted solar array sited on SEVCA’s property in Westminster, VT. Approximately 50 area low-income households with high energy burdens will become subscribers to the project, and receive virtual net metering credits as a form of energy assistance. The system is projected to produce 119,500 kWh per year (at a current value of $23,200) and save approximately 88.9 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.*

Project goals include:

  • Reducing the energy burden of low-income households through applying virtual net metering credits on their electricity bills, based on the energy generated by the solar array.

  • Enabling low-income households to support and benefit from the development of renewable sources of energy, thereby participating in the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.

  • Reducing participating low-income households’ dependence on energy assistance by decreasing and stabilizing their energy costs.

  • Contributing to reducing and stabilizing SEVCA’s energy costs for the operation of its main office in Westminster, thereby freeing up scarce resources to use for services.

Community Solar for Community Action aims to showcase a fiscally responsible and environmentally appropriate alternative to conventional, fossil-fuel-based energy assistance. Vermont has a favorable regulatory environment for community solar projects, a population that is highly supportive of renewable energy, and a significant need for energy assistance among low-income households, making this a great testing-ground for this model. The project aims to chart a new future towards a more sustainable low-income solar energy assistance program nationally.

Your contribution will help SEVCA better serve Vermonters and the environment!

To learn more about the project, contact Becky Himlin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

* EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

Get Help from SEVCA’s Health Navigator to Get or Keep Health Coverage

Need help to get public health insurance or Medicaid? Having difficulty with the process of renewing your benefits or adjusting your coverage? SEVCA’s Health Navigator is available to help families and individuals in Windham or Windsor Counties get or keep the coverage they need to stay healthy and/or obtain treatment.

SEVCA is able to continue its successful Health Navigator program in the face of extremely limited public funding for this vital service due to a multi-year grant from the Fannie Holt Ames & Edna Louise Holt Fund. Although the Trump administration has cut funding for promotion of ‘Obamacare’ and assistance to obtain or change it, there are still options for coverage through the Health Exchange in Vermont, as well as Medicaid for those households that qualify, and SEVCA’s Navigator is there to help make sure the public can access them.

“SEVCA is committed to supporting health care access for low-income and other vulnerable households in our service area,” said Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. “Without advocates to assist them, the negative impacts of the increasingly confusing health insurance maze on lower-income households will be even worse, and hundreds of local families, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and others could be left to fend for themselves as they try to maintain coverage and obtain appropriate care and treatment. This program means that in Southeastern Vermont vulnerable families have someone on their side.”

SEVCA recently welcomed Paul Reyns as its new Health Navigator, and anyone in Windham and Windsor Counties in need of assistance with coverage is urged to call him at 1-800-464-9951.

 

Updated June 2018

Strong Performance at SEVCA's "Chipping Away at Poverty" Benefit Golf Tournament

$11,000 RAISED FOR AREA RESIDENTS IN NEED

Players at Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s (SEVCA’s) 17th Annual “Chipping Away at Poverty” Benefit Golf Tournament on Friday, June 8 were greeted with comfortable temperatures and plenty of sunshine--perfect weather for golf. The Tournament Sponsor—Springfield Housing Authority: (Mountain View and Westview Terrace Apartments) and two Co-Sponsors--Mutual of America and Sunset Tool, Inc.—along with 15 other major sponsors, 15 other donors, and 17 teams of golfers--raised nearly $11,000 to support SEVCA’s essential anti-poverty programs serving low-income individuals and families in Windham and Windsor counties. SEVCA dedicated the tournament to the memory of Harald Schmidtke, its Weatherization Director, who passed away on April 2. Harald demonstrated an unwavering commitment to SEVCA’s mission during his 25 years with the agency, and he played in the golf tournament every year to help raise money to further that mission.

2018 Tournament 034

                Longstanding supporters and new friends from local, regional, and national businesses, SEVCA’s Weatherization and Crisis Fuel program vendors, local service providers, staff members, and the community sponsored and/or engaged in friendly competition to raise funds for the agency’s services. A Hole-In-One Contest sponsored by Fenton Family Dealerships/Subaru of Keene gave participants the chance to win a new Subaru Impreza and other valuable prizes, while Leone, McDonnell & Roberts sponsored the Putting Contest with its $5,000 grand prize. No players won the grand prizes this year, but Becky Day came closest to the pin in the Putting Contest final to win a $100 prize. The popular Air Cannon Contest made a return visit, sponsored by Lamb and McNaughton, Attorneys-at-Law, giving participants the chance to shoot their golf balls out of the air cannon from the tee at Hole #6 in hopes of getting closest to the pin. Jake Obar of Kinney Pike Insurance landed his ball 4 feet from the pin and won his choice of a 7-night stay at one of over 3,000 vacation resorts or a season of golf at over 65 courses in New England.

                Tournament winners were:

                         1st Place Team – Mutual of America (pictured above)

                         2nd Place – People’s United Bank

                         3rd Place – Kinney Pike Insurance

                         Women’s Closest to the PinTina Guerin

                         Men’s Closest to the Pin – Josh Davis

                         Women’s Longest Drive – P’Tricia Wyse

                         Men’s Longest Drive – Scott Walters

In addition to the sponsors listed above, SEVCA wishes to thank the following businesses, organizations and individuals for their sponsorships and other support:

                ‘Double Eagle’ Level Sponsors: Kinney-Pike Insurance

                Golfer Bag and Gift Sponsor: Mutual of America

                Golf Ball Sponsor: Streeter, LLC, Licensed Electrician and Building Contractor

                Breakfast and Luncheon Sponsor: IPG Employee Benefits Specialists

                Hole Sponsors– Clark’s Quality Foods, Clay Point Associates, Kinney Pike Insurance, Mountain View Apartments, Northeast Delta Dental, Sandri Energy, Savings Bank of Walpole, Simon Operation Services, Sunset Tool, Inc., Westview Terrace Apartments, the Windham Foundation, and WW Building Supply.

                Team Sponsors: Brattleboro Country Club, Dillon Chevrolet, Farnum Insulators, Kinney Pike Insurance, Mountain View Apartments, Mutual of America, Omega Optical, Paul & Carol McDonnell, People’s United Bank, Sunset Tool, Inc., Westview Terrace Apartments.

                General Supporters – the Abare family, Burtco, Inc., EFI, Magee Office Products, Newcomb’s Masonry, Northern Safety & Industrial, PayData Workforce Solutions, Stewart Property Management, and Westminster Auto Service.

                In-Kind Contributors – Brattleboro Country Club, Crown Point Country Club, Okemo Country Club, Putney Food Co-op, Vermont Country Deli, and Walmart.

Special thanks go to Brattleboro Country Club and their staff for their assistance, generosity and high quality service in hosting our tournament once again.

Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) was established in 1965 as part of the national War on Poverty and has worked to address the needs of low-income residents of Windham & Windsor Counties for over 50 years. In addition to providing the “safety net” for households in financial crisis, its services help them stabilize their lives, make their homes safe and energy-efficient, take strides toward becoming self-reliant, and enable their children to escape the generational poverty cycle. These goals are achieved through such programs as Family Services, Crisis Fuel, Housing Services, 3SquaresVT (Food Stamp) Outreach, Weatherization, Home Repair, Small Business Assistance, Financial Fitness Education, Matched Savings Accounts, Job Readiness, Tax Preparation Assistance, Thrift Stores, Health Navigator, and Head Start.

 

Honoring Harald's Legacy--May 31 Event Details

Page1 Honoring Haralds Legacy 4

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

On April 2, SEVCA's Weatherization Director, Harald Schmidtke, passed away, having stewarded the program for the past 25 years. Harald showed compassion, integrity, and determination as he worked to achieve SEVCA's mission of reducing the causes and moving toward the elimination of poverty. While we are grieving his loss, we also recognize the importance of celebrating his life and legacy.

Join us at SEVCA's Annual Celebration on May 31, at which we'll honor Harald's lasting contribution to improving the lives of thousands of vulnerable Windham and Windsor County residents as well as the sustainability of our communities.  

Thursday, May 31, 5 - 8 PM
American Legion, Post 67
637 Vermont Route 103 S
Chester, VT

Please click on the link below to RSVP for this event, which we hope will serve as a very special tribute to a much-loved community leader, colleague, and friend. 

http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=clspsnlab&oeidk=a07efcpipo198c21a9f

We request that you RSVP by May 23. A buffet dinner will be served and a cash bar will be available. Dinner is provided at no charge, but donations are encouraged to help defray our costs. Please contact Linda Brooks at (802) 722-4575 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. with any questions or help with registration.

We look forward to seeing many of you on May 31.

Sincerely,

Steve Geller, Executive Director

 

 

Community Solar for Community Action

New Solar Array Planned at SEVCA's Westminster Location

SEVCA plans to build, own, and manage the first community solar installation in the nation to use virtual net metering credits to deliver energy assistance directly to low-income households. This project, Community Solar for Community Action, will demonstrate a new, nationally relevant, scalable model of energy assistance, enabling low-income households to meet their energy needs while supporting the development of renewable energy resources. SEVCA was recently awarded a grant of $111,000 from the Windham Regional Commission’s Renewable Energy Grant Program to help make the project a reality.

Community solar is a fiscally responsible and environmentally appropriate alternative to conventional, fossil-fuel-based energy assistance. Vermont has a favorable regulatory environment for community solar projects, a population that is highly supportive of renewable energy, and a significant need for energy assistance among low-income households. The project aims to help chart a new future towards a more sustainable low-income energy assistance program.

This innovative project will consist of a 150 kW ground- and roof-mounted solar array sited on SEVCA’s property in Westminster, VT. Approximately 70 of SEVCA’s low-income clients with high energy burdens will become subscribers to the solar project, and receive virtual net metering credits as a form of energy assistance. The system is projected to produce 196,284 kWh per year and save approximately 161 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. 

Project goals include:

  • Reducing the energy burden of low-income households through applying virtual net metering credits on their electricity bills, based on the energy generated by the solar array.
  • Enabling low-income households to support and benefit from development of renewable sources of energy, thereby participating in the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.
  • Reducing participating low-income households’ dependence on energy assistance by decreasing and stabilizing their energy costs.
  • Contributing to reducing and stabilizing SEVCA’s energy costs for the operation of its main office in Westminster, thereby freeing up scarce resources to use for services.

For more information, contact Becky Himlin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“If SEVCA hadn’t provided heat this winter, I might not be alive to write this.”

SEVCA Client