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Energy Plan

Background

“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

An energy plan is a powerful tool for making progress toward clean energy. It presents a way to set and communicate goals and actions. It can educate readers about the key building blocks of the transition to clean energy. It enables your team to engage a range of stakeholders around a transparent set of planned actions. And, once approved, an energy plan lends credibility and authority to your team’s work as you implement its action items. It can give direction and focus to your team’s meetings and work.

However, drafting an energy plan is not a simple task and many towns have struggled with limited resources to complete one. To this end, in addition to sharing links to sample plans drafted by other towns, PACE has created a template for a plan that can be adapted for use by any town. Of course, the PACE plan sets a goal of 100% renewable energy!

Getting Started

If you haven’t done so already, start by discussing and agreeing upon a vision for your community’s energy future. What are your high-level goals and interim milestones? What will be the scope of your vision (e.g., residents, businesses, municipality, schools)?

Next, asses the resources available to you. Does your town have a prior plan you can build on? Is the municipality able to provide assistance such as staff time, publication tools, work space? Are you able to partner with local educational institutions or other organizations? Are there individuals in your town with particular skills or expertise that you might recruit to help? Do you have funding to engage consultants or graphic designers?

Peruse a range of plans from other towns. You will find a rich diversity of styles and content. What features, language, charts or images appeal to you? (Don’t be shy about reaching out to that town—or to PACE—for assistance or permission to use their images or other features.)

Finally, decide on the style, scope and organization of your plan. Is there a particular plan or template you want to start with, or will you start from scratch?

Checklist

  • If you haven’t already done so, carry out a Baseline Energy Assessment [link to this section of the website]. It will provide some quantitative analysis, charts and direction for the plan.
  • Divvy up the work and create your plan. You will want to thoroughly discuss your concrete actions amongst your team. While it may not be possible to achieve unanimity, aim for a consensus on these action steps.
  • Once you have a fairly complete draft of the plan, set about engaging the community. The more stakeholders understand the plan, and feel they had a chance to provide input, the more credibility it will have, and the more likely you will be able to implement it. Key stakeholders to engage include:
      • Town officials (e.g., First Selectmen, Mayor, Town Manager, Director of Public Works, Energy Manager, etc.),
      • Board of Education,
      • Schools, parent-teacher organizations,
      • Residents,
      • Neighborhood organizations,
      • Businesses, business groups,
      • Religious organizations

     

  • After revising the plan based on input from the community, ask your town officials (i.e., Town Council, Board of Selectmen) to approve it. An official vote and/or resolution of support will be invaluable as you implement the plan.
  • An energy plan will help a community earn a bronze or silver designation from SustainableCT. In addition, by submitting your plan to SustainableCT, you will help other communities learn from your experience.
  • Celebrate and publicize its passage! Get an article in the local paper. Go on local television. Create banners, buttons, etc.
  • Revisit your plan annually. It should not need a complete re-write, but you need to update your one-year and five-year plans (or whatever time horizon you use). You’ll find that updating the Baseline Energy Assessment is fairly quick exercise as well.

Resources

  • PACE Town Energy Plan Template
    • This template is designed in a concise, readable and action-focused style. We hope that other towns will take it, improve upon it and share it with us. It contains the following sections:
      • Introduction: You will want to personalize your plan by re-drafting this page. It should share your overall clean energy vision, high-level goals and timetable and, of course, a local picture.
      • Your town’s “Energy by the Numbers”: Most of these figures and charts are a by-product of your Baseline Energy Assessment.
      • A clear statement of your goals: Similarly, much of this page comes out of the Baseline Energy Assessment.
      • The Five Pillars: These five pages describe the main areas of action:
            • Energy Efficiency in Buildings
            • Heating and Cooling
            • Renewable Energy
            • Transportation
            • Microgrids
            • Each of these five pages uses the same format, containing:
            • A brief description of the action area,
            • A summary of your progress to date,
            • An enumeration of the benefits of this action,
            • A relevant (and if possible, local) image,
            • A list of possible actions and
            • Your goals
      • Your concrete plan of action: This page is the most important in the document. While the template includes a one-year and five-year plan, you may select a different time horizon. Keep in mind as you write this page that you are agreeing to actually do these things!
      • A list of additional resources
      • Appendix: Your town’s energy consumption: Most of this data flows from the Baseline Energy Assessment.
    • This plan has been submitted to the Sustainable Connecticut program and received credit for both a municipal and residential/business energy plan.

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