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VPR Report on VEIC's Commons Energy

Vermont Public Radio recently highlighted Commons Energy, a new low-profit venture from the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation that aims to offer significant energy savings for buildings that serve a public purpose, including educational institutions, health care facilities, municipal and other community buildings, and multifamily affordable housing. Below is an excerpt from their report:

There’s nothing new about “energy saving companies,” and for-profit firms have long helped hospitals, universities and other large institutions trim their energy bills. But those firms generally target seven-figure clients. And energy saving projects at small- and mid-size public-purpose buildings – like the one at Union Square – haven’t attracted much attention from the private sector. “There’s numerous low-income multi-family housing properties throughout the state of Vermont that need assistance with making energy-related upgrades that they haven’t been able to make for one reason or another,” Brown says. “So we started Commons Energy to provide the technical support, construction support, provide financial support when needed, and to provide a guarantee of performance that will allow facilities like this one to make improvements.” The $270,000 pellet boiler system will replace the two oil-fed units that currently provide heat and hot water to residents here. Union Square will trade the 17,000 gallons of fuel it uses now every year for 143 tons of pellets. And even after paying off debt service to Commons Energy, which covers upfront capital and technical support, Union Square will still net about $10,000 in savings annually. Brown says that’s money Union Square can then invest in its affordable-housing mission. And if Commons Energy is wrong on its efficiency projections, it will actually cut a check to Union Square for the difference. Eric Schmitt is the director of asset management for Housing Vermont, which, along with the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, owns Union Square. Schmitt says that every dollar saved on energy costs “is one we can use to maintain the quality and affordability of this housing.”

To read the entire piece from VPR and listen to the audio report, click here.

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