Introductory Workshops in Westminster and Brattleboro
Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s (SEVCA’s) new 110 kW solar array, located at its Westminster office, is now complete, and the organization will soon be selecting approximately 50 households with low incomes and high energy burdens to receive free credits from the power produced by the array. Households in Windham and Windsor Counties that have a Green Mountain Power account are invited to apply during an open application period up until July 15. SEVCA will then select program participants according to criteria that include household income, energy burden, and housing cost burden. The households selected will receive credits on their GMP electric bill based on the power produced by the solar array, which will reduce their electricity costs. Benefits are expected to amount to approximately $400/year per household.
SEVCA has worked in partnership for over a year with the Minnesota-based Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to develop this Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA) project, as part of the national Solar in Your Community Challenge, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). SEVCA’s is one of several community solar projects RREAL developed during the competition period, and RREAL was awarded the runner-up prize in the competition. Catamount Solar, a Vermont-based, employee-owned solar contractor, was selected to install the array.
SEVCA’s project is expected to produce an estimated 119,500 kWh of electricity annually, and will help address the excessive energy burdens that households with low incomes face each year. Complementing its home weatherization and crisis fuel programs, CS4CA will be an important new tool in SEVCA’s efforts to ensure that all vulnerable households can meet their energy needs now and in the future.
SEVCA would like to thank all of its project supporters, including the U.S. Department of Energy, the Windham Regional Commission, the Thompson Trust, VLITE, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the dozens of other contributors who made this project possible.
August, 2019 Update: Please note that the application process has concluded and our subscribers have been selected. Thanks to everyone who showed an interest in the project! We will occasionally open up our waitlist, and will publicize this opportunity when it is available.
SEVCA is inviting participants to register for its upcoming “Financial Fitness” workshop series, to be held in Brattleboro starting September 10. This 7-part workshop series will help participants improve their relationship with money, develop strong financial habits, and take steps toward prosperity. SEVCA’s instructors will utilize tools from the acclaimed Your Money Your Goals curriculum developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Topics covered include: saving, budgeting, credit, home buying, insurance, purchasing a car, and saving for college. The instructor will also provide individualized financial coaching, as needed, to help participants and their families become more financially secure.
Those who complete the course may be eligible to join SEVCA’s SaVermont matched savings program. Participants earn a match for every $1 they save (up to $1,000) if they save a minimum of $25 each month toward home purchases or repairs, obtaining education or job training, starting or enhancing their own business, or car purchases or repairs needed for transportation to work.
Last updated: August 19, 2019
“Federal workers impacted by the shutdown may not be aware of the many programs SEVCA offers because they haven’t needed our help before,” said Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. “In addition to offering services like homelessness prevention and crisis fuel assistance, SEVCA can work with them to access other community services they might need due to this predicament that has nothing to do with them. We want them to know that we value the work they do, object to the way they’re being treated, and sympathize with the difficult position they’ve been put in because of this senseless shutdown.”
Windham and Windsor County residents in need are invited to call SEVCA toll-free at (800) 464-9951 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday to learn about ways the organization can help. They may also contact SEVCA’s local offices at the following numbers:
Brattleboro area: (802) 254-2795
Springfield area: (802) 885-6153
White River Junction area: (802) 295-5215
Those who currently qualify for assistance programs, such as 3SquaresVT (food stamps), and are worried about how the extended shutdown may impact their benefits are also invited to call SEVCA for information and assistance, or they can get information to contact the relevant state office directly at https://dcf.vermont.gov/mybenefits.
While the furloughed workers and those forced to work during the shutdown won’t necessarily meet the specific eligibility criteria for all programs, SEVCA will use some of its existing flexible resources and seek additional donations to try to help where possible. The organization will also gladly accept donations of gas cards, grocery cards, and cash contributions to its “Share the Warmth” emergency fuel assistance fund to help meet the need. Individuals may donate online at http://www.sevca.org/share-the-warmth or send checks or gift cards to 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158.