Reducing and Electrifying your Energy Demand
A critical step in the process of moving away from polluting fossil fuels is using less energy across every aspect of the energy spectrum: electricity, heating, and transportation. Vermont has been a leader in our electric efficiency efforts – in particular through our first-in-the-nation statewide efficiency utility model that created Efficiency Vermont. Vermont has also been a leader in transitioning our electricity supply from fossil fuel power plants to renewable energy.
Right now, depending on your utility, anywhere from 55-100% of your electricity is from renewable sources. As that percentage increases, as it is required to by Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard, we can simultaneously accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels for transportation and heating by switching to electric solutions like cold climate heat pumps and electric cars and buses. Even better, these technologies aren’t just capable of being powered by renewable electricity – they’re often so efficient that simply making the switch reduces your total energy use, even when taking into account the energy needed to produce the electricity they use.
Efficiency and electrification are win-wins for Vermont’s environment and Vermonters’ pocketbooks. Using less energy overall saves money and keeps fossil fuel pollution out of Vermont’s air.
Vermont has led the nation through statewide policy encouraging energy efficiency and electrification, but there’s plenty more to do. Here are some top policies and priorities for the future:
• Vermont Energy Innovation Program: As part of Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard (the law that requires utilities to get an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources), utilities are required to support their customers’ transition off of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by providing incentives for heat pumps, weatherization, and electric vehicles. Utilities have already begun this important work, and we need to ensure that it continues so that all Vermonters can benefit from moving quickly away from polluting energy sources. Learn more and take action.
• Appliance Efficiency Standards: In 2017, VPIRG successfully advocated for the Vermont Legislature to pass H.411 (Act 42), which mandates that if the existing Federal standards are repealed, rolled back, or withdrawn, Vermont will adopt those same standards as they exist today. These standards, collectively the second most significant Federal climate and energy policy, save Vermont consumers about $555 on their electric bills each year. In 2018, VPIRG will advocate for Vermont to expand state standards to include additional products that aren’t currently covered by a Federal standard, like computers and computer monitors. Learn more and take action.
• Volkswagen Settlement & Electric Buses: Following Volkswagen’s deceptive emissions practices, the Department of Justice has reached a nearly $4 billion settlement with the company. Part of that settlement includes funds for state projects to get dirty fossil fuel vehicles off the roads. Vermont will get almost $19 million through this settlement, which could go a long way to kickstarting a transportation transformation to electric vehicles. We’re advocating for the state to focus that investment on electric school buses, and car charging stations. Learn more and take action.
• Efficiency Utilities: In 2000, Vermont regulators created an unprecedented efficiency utility, Efficiency Vermont. Today, Efficiency Vermont, along with the other efficiency utilities, Burlington Electric Department, and Vermont Gas, helps educate and incentivize Vermonters and Vermont businesses to reduce their energy use. In order to transition away from fossil fuels and reduce our energy consumption overall, it’s critical that we continue to fund these efficiency programs that reduce electric bills for all Vermonters. Opponents have repeatedly attempted to cut their budget, and we expect more of the same in the future.
• Weatherization: Vermont has a goal of weatherizing 80,000 homes by 2020, including 20,000 low-income homes. Unfortunately, despite the good work of Community Action Programs, Efficiency Vermont, and other organizations, we are falling far short of that goal. Weatherizing Vermont’s aging housing stock requires upfront funding, and will save Vermonters energy and money over time. There have been attempts to cut funding for heating efficiency as well, something VPIRG and our allies have consistently beat back.
Check out the latest on our efficiency and electrification campaigns below.
Recent Efficiency and Electrification News
Over the past year, VPIRG has been working to ensure that the $18.7 million Vermont will be receiving as part of the settlement on the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. Last week, that work started to pay off. After the Scott Administration, and Governor Scott himself, made clear that they intended to spend a significant portion of ...Read More
While legislators and the governor continue to debate critical components of the state budget, all indications are that he, and they, intend to leave the budget’s climate package as the House and Senate passed it earlier this month. Last year, we told you about an incredible opportunity for Vermont to invest in clean, electric school buses. ...Read More
On May 22nd, Gov. Scott signed H.410 – legislation that expands Vermont’s appliance efficiency standards. Gov. Scott listened to the voices of Vermonters, as well as the vast majority of the Vermont House of Representatives and State Senate, which passed the bill on tri-partisan votes of 137-4 and 25-4, respectively. This law goes beyond current federal ...Read More
On May 21st Gov. Scott signed H.739, which creates a three-year pilot program that allows Efficiency Vermont more flexibility in working with Vermont businesses on custom efficiency and energy saving programs. While it started as a reaction to the Scott Administration’s proposal to make significant cuts to efficiency programs, we were able to work with key ...Read More
Updated (5/29/18): Last week, Gov. Scott signed H.739 into law. Earlier today, the House and Senate passed H.739, a bill that creates a three year pilot program to give Efficiency Vermont more flexibility in working with some of the largest businesses in the state on custom efficiency and energy saving programs. This bill now heads to ...Read More