Founder Of Efficiency Vermont Dies

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(Host) Blair Hamilton, the driving force behind the utility Efficiency Vermont, died over the weekend.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, he’s being remembered as one of the earliest and most tireless advocates for energy efficiency.

(Sneyd) Efficiency Vermont is the statewide utility whose sole responsibility is helping businesses and consumers use less electricity.

It was Blair Hamilton and his wife, Beth Sachs, who got the utility off the ground through the organization they co-founded, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.

In 2002, Hamilton explained how efficiency improvements that Efficiency Vermont helped fund at a Northeast Kingdom furniture factory were similar to investing in a new power plant.

(Hamilton) "We’re meeting Vermont‘s power needs at a far lower cost than going out and buying this power."

(Sneyd) Friends and advocates say Hamilton was dogged in looking for ways to drive down the cost of power.

Scudder Parker says he worked closely with Hamilton over the years, including during Parker’s tenure in the state Senate and later in the Dean administration.

(Parker) "Blair was absolutely determined and he was a force to be reckoned with. When he saw something with clarity, he wouldn’t let go. I think it’s that kind of passion and energy that’s helped create Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, that’s fueled the success of Efficiency Vermont as a way of meeting needs throughout the state."

(Sneyd) Parker can remember many a meeting when Hamilton would refuse to settle for an idea without pushing to find a little more bang for the buck.

He was known for being sensitive to consumers, who might not be keen on spending a little more upfront to save on power bills over the long term.

But he was determined to try, as he discussed during a trade show in 2008.

(Hamilton) "`While Vermont is a leader in the country in the amount of switching that consumers have done from incandescent to more efficient compact fluorescent lighting, we still have a tremendous amount of remaining opportunity for savings. For most homeowners it is the single most cost effective thing they can still do."

(Sneyd) In recent years, Hamilton and the corporation he co-founded with his wife have been called on by governments around the world for energy efficiency advice.

Former state Public Service Commissioner Rich Sedano now runs a consulting business that helps those governments. He says he often recommended Hamilton’s expertise.

(Sedano) "There’s nothing like experience to inform people who are trying to learn and Blair’s had so much experience. He has a good intuition about what works and what doesn’t."

(Sneyd) What astounded Hamilton’s many friends was that throughout his work of the past 20 years, he was battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

They say it did little to slow him down until his death on Friday at 61.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.


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