Wilton is awarded silver by Energize Connecticut

Wilton, it would seem, is one of the “greener” towns in one of this country’s greenest states.

At Energize Connecticut’s recent municipal awards ceremony at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, the town of Wilton was honored with the “silver-level” award for its achievements in the state’s nationally recognized Clean Energy Communities (CEC) initiative.

Energize Connecticut is a partnered umbrella program formed by the state, the Energy Efficiency Board and the Connecticut Green Bank, dedicated to empowering Connecticut citizens to make smart energy choices, now and in the future.

The CEC program is an Energize Connecticut initiative that incentivizes cities and towns to support energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Energize Connecticut partners attributed Wilton’s silver recipiency to excellence in a number of areas, including meeting the CEC “Pledge” renewable energy requirements.

“We’re on track to meet our 2018 goal of 20% clean municipal energy use,” Patrice Gillespie of Wilton’s Energy Commission told The Bulletin.

The CEC Pledge also requires a commitment to facilitate the public’s education around smart energy management, which the town of Wilton made with the help of Wilton Go Green’s many outreach efforts.

Wilton Go Green is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable initiatives in the town of Wilton. “Thanks to their work,” Gillespie said, “we were able to educate the business as well as the residential sectors.”

Wilton was also cited for the silver award by partners of Energize Connecticut for currently benchmarking all its town and school buildings, which, according to Gillespie, is thanks to Richard Creeth, a former selectman, current Board of Finance clerk and current co-chair of the Energy Commission.

Creeth is a data analyst by profession, and his painstaking volunteer effort to each month enter all town and school energy-use data into the Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager was “another reason why Wilton got the silver award,” Gillespie said.

Also earning Wilton silver were the 21% of homes that participated in residential energy-saving programs as well as the 11% of businesses that completed energy-saving projects.

“The only reason we missed the gold award is we didn’t reach the requisite participation rate for the business sector,” Gillespie said. “We were close but we fell a little short.”

That said, “with even better participation going forward, it is assumed by many that Wilton will receive a gold award next year,” Gillespie added.

The town of Wilton, in addition to meeting CEC Pledge requirements, benchmarking its facilities and achieving above-average residential and business energy-saving participation rates, previously had installed a solar system at Wilton High School.

Because of that, Wilton this year re-earned reward points on a renewable track that built toward its 2015 silver recipiency.

Furthermore, Wilton was acknowledged for partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge, a community energy savings program that challenges Connecticut residents across 14 participating municipalities to take energy efficiency actions that will save money.

The person who's most to thank, however, for earning Wilton this honor, according to Gillespie, is former First Selectman Bill Brennan.

“We really have him to thank for how successful all of these programs have been, because he was so supportive,” she said.

“He always encouraged to Wilton Go Green; he was always very receptive to all of the suggestions that the Energy Commission made. It’s been his support and his endorsements in all of these programs that earned us our award.”

The ceremony

Nearly every city and town in Connecticut was represented at the Energize Connecticut municipal award ceremony. Accepting on behalf of Wilton was Brennan.

After the ceremony, Brennan noted, “The data that are tracked by Eversource show that the town has cut electricity consumption by 8.4 gigawatt hours since January of 2010.

“Carbon emissions from burned fuel oil are also greatly reduced, due to better-insulated buildings and weatherization, so the savings are significantly greater than the utility data would even indicate.

“So I am very proud of Wilton’s proactive spirit when it comes to smart energy management, home by home and in our larger buildings as well."