The Evolution of the Energy Co-op of VT
From its origins as the Miller Oil Company to the diverse cooperative that it is today, the Energy Co-op of Vermont has sought to “Help Vermonters make their homes comfortable, healthy, and energy-efficient”. Founded in September of 2000, the Energy Co-op has been oriented towards energy-efficiency and renewables. For two years prior to its inception, a group of individuals developed a plan based on the co-op model and secured a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That led to the acquisition of the Miller Oil Company in Colchester, VT. Many former company customers are Co-op members today.
It was no small trick for a fuel oil dealer to transform into a supplier of cleaner-burning fuels, renewables, and energy-efficiency services and maintain and expand its original customer base.
The key, according to Co-op General Manager John Quinney, is “to continuously engage the Co-op’s members, to understand their interests and concerns, and to provide them with attractive energy choices at fair prices”.
Forming partnerships has helped. Several years ago the co-op partnered with Vermont Wood Pellets to provide a locally-produced, high-quality, renewable heating fuel. Today, more than 350 Co-op members use wood pellets to heat their homes.
Now, together with Sunward Systems, it has launched Co-op Solar, its simple and affordable solar hot water heating program. In this way it has secured a deep discount for customers and supported the creation of green jobs in Vermont. And it has partnered with VSECU to offer financing. With a low interest loan, a customer’s SHW system can be cash-positive after just the first year.
The Co-op Solar program, which runs only through June 30th of this year, is open to anyone in Chittenden County, not just Co-op members. With high oil and propane prices and carbon emissions on the rise, Co-op Solar couldn’t have come at a better time. “It may be the best investment you can make for your home and planet”, says Quincy. It’s all about doing what’s best for its members and for Vermont. “Over the lifetime of the system, homeowners can see energy savings of $20,000 and helping ensure the Green Mountains stay Green for generations to come”.
For more information on the Co-op Solar program, go to: www.Co-opSolar.net