HYDE PARK — What goes around, comes around.
The old adage is true of efforts by northern Vermont energy suppliers Bourne’s Energy to invest in sustainable energy.
It is also true of early connections between the company and Gov. Phil Scott, who renewed old acquaintances when he visited the North Hyde Park company Monday.
Scott was the guest of honor at a ribbon-cutting at the energy company, dedicating a 50-ton bulk wood-pellet silo that will greatly increase access in northern Vermont to an affordable, sustainable fuel source expected to help lower Vermont’s carbon footprint.
It was also the chance for Scott to celebrate old ties with a company where he worked as a delivery driver 30 years ago.
“It was good to see the governor there and the other people who showed up because we think it’s an important part of the new world of heating and energy in northern Vermont,” said Peter Bourne, company president of a family business that celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.
“Years ago, when the governor lived in the community, he had a motorcycle shop in Morrisville, and he helped us with winter work. Obviously, motorcycling is not a big thing in January-February, and we had Phil come work for us as a delivery driver for a few months and help us out for a season.
“So we’ve known him for a number of years. It’s always good to see him, and it’s always interesting. The governor knows what it’s like to work; get your hands dirty, for lack of a better description. I think it’s good for people to recognize he worked for a small company in Vermont but also understands what it takes to get the job done.”
This week, that job included the public unveiling of the wood pellet silo at Bourne Energy that will provide a locally sourced “advanced wood” product made from Vermont forests. The silo was funded with the help of a $52,000 grant from the state’s Clean Energy Development Fund. In 2010, the company received a similar grant of $45,000 to build a biodiesel and bio-heat plant at it’s Morrisville depot.
Scott acknowledged the company’s efforts to work with the state to promote alternative fuel programs to combat climate change.
“Many Vermonters struggle to adequately heat their homes, so it’s great to see wood pellets become an affordable option,” Scott said. “My administration is committed to assisting forward-thinking companies like Bourne’s Energy make additional investments in our clean heating infrastructure, and making this technology accessible to all Vermonters.”
Also present at the event was Renewable Energy Vermont Executive Director Olivia Campbell Anderson, who credited the state and Bourne’s Energy with working together on energy solutions to climate-change challenges.
“Advanced wood heating helps keep money in Vermont and supports healthy management of forests. That’s why Renewable Energy Vermont supports clean-wood energy in the state,” Andersen said. “We were thrilled to support this effort and we appreciate the governor’s support.
She said that every dollar spent on wood pellets stays in the Vermont economy and creates jobs in forestry. The overall goal, Anderson said, is to achieve 35 percent of Vermonter’s heating needs through advanced wood, which would create 580 jobs in Vermont and prevent $120 million from leaving the state’s economy.
Anderson said there are incentives available for people to cover the cost of installing an advanced-wood heating system in a home or business, with grants of $2,000 and $10,000 or more, respectively. Additional grants are available from Efficiency Vermont.
“It really helps to cover the cost of the heating systems, especially when you combine the two. For those concerned about climate change and not relying on foreign oil or fracked natural gas and want to support local products, advanced wood heating really is the best way to go,” Anderson said. “Bourne’s are selling a Vermont-made wood pellet. That really helps multiple areas of the local economy.
The new silo opens up a new area of the state, and pellets won’t have to be trucked as far to get directly to customers, she added.
The governor also attended a second ribbon-cutting ceremony at People’s Academy in Morrisville to dedicate the school’s new wood-chip boiler, installed by SunWood Biomass.
“The students were there for the ceremony, and they will be participating in the Youth Lobby climate march to the Vermont State House on April 12,” Anderson added.