MIDDLEBURY - As the amount of snow on the ground continues to pile up and the temperatures continue to go down, quite a few area residents are struggling to find ways to afford to heat their homes this winter. High unemployment and rising oil prices have only made a bad situation even worse for some. In an effort to help, two local co-ops have teamed up with a Vermont producer of wood pellets to offer assistance through Central Vermont Public Service's Shareheat program.
Beginning this month, the Acorn Energy Co-op and the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op (MNFC) are collaborating on the sale of bags of Vermont-made wood pellets produced by Vermont Wood Pellet Company LLC (VWP) of North Clarendon. The idea of donating the proceeds from the sales of bags of pellets at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op to CVPS's Shareheat program was suggested by MNFC manager, Glenn Lower.
"We've been trying to find more ways to introduce area residents to VWP's locally-produced, super premium grade wood pellets," says Laura Asermily, manager of the Acorn Energy Co-op. "So, when Glenn suggested helping the Shareheat program while we simultaneously raised the visibility of the VWP pellets, we jumped at the opportunity." Lower also agreed to make a small space at MNFC available to store a few bags of the pellets.
Chris Brooks, principal, of Vermont Wood Pellet Company, quickly agreed to the plan and donated an initial ton of pellets from his North Clarendon mill to the project. Until the end of February, bags of VWP pellets will be available for $5.50 each at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op store located at 9 Washington Street in Middlebury. The proceeds will then be donated to the CVPS Shareheat program by the Acorn Energy Co-op.
CVPS Shareheat is a program of last resort for over 1,000 Vermont families each year. Funds are available to assist people who face heating emergencies, often because they never expected to need assistance, lost a job, or have exhausted all other available assistance. Since 1987, Shareheat has raised over $3.1 million to prevent Vermonters from going cold during the heating season. Half of that amount has been collected from the public and half has been donated by CVPS shareholders.