Renovation work is underway at the former Eastman building in downtown Rutland to create Green Mountain Power’s new energy innovation center. Utility officials announced Friday that in addition to their staff, the center will also provide a new hub for Efficiency Vermont and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont.
Mary Powell, President of Green Mountain Power, says helping Vermonters save energy will take a comprehensive effort – one that incorporates homeownership, efficiency, weatherization and innovation. Because of that, she says it makes sense to include Efficiency Vermont and NeighborWorks in their new Energy Innovation center. "What’s different about this is we’re actually moving in together," she said with a laugh. "We’re moving into the same space and developing a new level of collaboration." A kind of collaboration Powell says she hasn’t seen yet in the utility field.
NeighborWorks is a nonprofit housing organization that provides home buying, home improvement and maintenance help. The organization will keep its West Rutland headquarters, but Executive Director Ludy Biddle says several staff members will move to the new Green Mountain Power location.
Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont, says about 5 or 6 of his Rutland County staff will work there. "Each one of us interacts with customers in a little bit different way," he says, "and we come at it with a different strength. A lot of times when you hear what other people are doing that’s great you can come up with ideas that are like, ‘oh wow – what if we do this and this together?’" Merriam says. "That’s the type of innovation that we’re hoping to get out of this. So it’s difficult to get that if you only are meeting every couple weeks at a big meeting."
Green Mountain Power officials say their new Energy Innovation Center is expected to open next fall.