New Member Highlight Jan/Feb 2022

Welcome to our new member of ESUS, Tad Montgomery.

Tad is the Energy and Facility Manager for the City of Lebanon New Hampshire. We recently spoke with Tad about his four years with the City of Lebanon and the initiatives he has been working on. Some of the accomplishments Tad shared with us include:

  • 778 kW of solar on seven sites through a PPA, meeting roughly 23% of the municipal load with more to come
  • Implementation of a smart streetlight program using a mesh network; conversion of the streetlights to LED’s with full dimming and trimming capabilities at a savings of ~80% in operating cost and greenhouse gasses
  • Working with other leaders in NH to develop a Community Power (aka municipal aggregation) program that will allow us to procure electricity for residents and businesses, saving money and increasing the renewable content
  • Collaboration with the local utility to implement a household battery storage project to avoid upgrade costs on a constrained electric circuit
  • Involved in research projects with Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering to develop transactional energy programs, combined one day with the Community Power project
  • Negotiated with Electrify America to locate a DC fast charging station for EV’s in Lebanon
  • Writing an annual greenhouse gas reduction plan
  • Replaced boilers in our police station and City Hall with dual-fuel models capable of burning 100% biodiesel
  • Currently engaged in a feasibility study for an anaerobic digester to treat sewage sludge, food waste, and landfill organics
  • Two small maintenance shops have been rebuilt this year and combined with rooftop solar could be operated with net-zero energy

Culture Can Create Success

Tad credits his success to his personal passion and drive in addition to a very passionate and supportive Mayor. His driving passion is to help restore the environment by reducing and sequestering carbon. What drives Tad at work each day is the goal to decarbonize Lebanon by 80% by 2050; get the city off of fossil fuels and expand the renewable energy portfolio. The Mayor and City manager provide their support by aligning themselves with Tad’s programs and communicating that these programs have been approved by them. This buy-in provides the backing to help Tad garner support from coworkers and other departments to develop and implement successful programs. Tad keeps strong support for programs by keeping people excited and engaged in the program’s success. One example he cites is when the City put in their order for the new Ford Lighting. This excited the staff and helped them to see the value in the electrification of the City fleet.

Tad credits the culture of Lebanon for the success of his programs. The culture of “Plan, Try, Support, and Learn” helps staff to try innovative ideas without the fear of criticism and repercussions. This culture of innovation and acceptance encourages people to work hard and try their best to continuously improve.

Failure to Try is a Failure to Learn

Tad shared his tips on how he uses failure to learn, grow, and help his team.

  • Failure: don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from trying
    • Get your ducks lined up and get prepared
    • Develop contingencies to create fail-safes and redundancies to prevent operational issues. The more innovative the idea, the more prep you need to do.
    • If we don’t try then we don’t learn and we stop improving
    • Take responsibility for the “mess” and figure out how to do it better the next time. The process of improvement requires the identification of failure points.
  • Patience: learn to be patient with innovative ideas. Big change requires a lot of time and patience
    • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Do your due diligence to make sure you have the subject matter experts needed to plan, execute, and monitor the program
    • Relationships will see you through the long haul. Develop a team of people and departments that will keep pace with you through the long-haul

Words to Live By

Tad shared his passion, tips, and tricks but he also wants to inspire other FMs to step outside their comfort zone and start new and innovative programs. Here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Set goals in partnership with your leadership
    • Develop a timeline with milestones to celebrate along the way
  • Find allies in your department and partnering departments; a team of support
    • Look for champions of the cause
  • Get informed about what’s happening in the field
    • Emerging technologies
    • Best management practices
    • Resource Groups: IFMA ESUS and other SME organizations
  • Take a Long-Haul view of your facility and programs
    • This is a Marathon, not a Spring
    • Always plan for the End-of-Life for your facility and equipment