The city of Montpelier is working with the state of Vermont and the US Department of Energy’s Community Renewable Energy Deployment Project to create a three-pronged approach to energy efficiency and renewable generation in the city. First, Montpelier is investing in a $4.9 million central district energy system that would heat state, city and private buildings within the capital district.

Second, it will build a $18.6 million central heating plant using forest-harvested wood as its energy source, moving away from reliance on oil and gas. The plant will create over 41 million thermal units that can heat up to 1.8 million square feet of building space, while generating an additional 1.8 million kWh of renewable electricity. The Department of Energy provided $8 million dollars for this project.

Third, the city has adopted a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) system that allows homeowners to finance energy retrofits, such as new windows or insulation, and renewable energy technology, such as solar panels, through their property tax bills. These payments stay with the property. So, if a homeowner moves the next owner takes on the costs. By 2015, Montpelier’s goals are to have half of all homes and half of all buildings in the downtown district retrofitted.