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advocated for the Vermont Legislature to pass H.411 (Act 42), which mandates that if the existing Federal standards are repealed, rolled back, or withdrawn, Vermont will adopt those same standards as they exist today.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
On Thursday, February 1, the bill to expand appliance efficiency standards passed the House of Representatives with strong tri-partisan support. H.410 will now move to the Senate, beginning in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee. In a roll-call vote on Wednesday to approve the third reading of the bill, the bill received overwhelming support in ...Read More
Last week, the House Committee on Energy & Technology passed H.410, the bill to expand appliance efficiency standards to products that are not currently covered at the Federal level. The bill passed 7-1 with tripartisan support (see below for the full vote count). The standards included in H.410 would save Vermonters $210 million on their energy ...Read More
On January 23, Rep. Mary Sullivan (D-Chittenden-6-5) introduced legislation (H.682) that limits the use of VW funds to electrification projects, including installing charging stations around Vermont, electrifying school and transit buses, and electrifying medium and large trucks. Rep. Sullivan was joined by 40 of her colleagues as cosponsors on the legislation. This follows a decision from ...Read More
In November 2017, VPIRG signed onto the Transportation Electrification Accord along with a broad array of organizations and businesses committed to an equitable, prosperous and electrified transportation future. Among other principles, the Accord recognizes that electric vehicles (both light duty and heavy duty) can “advance economic development, create jobs, provide grid services, integrate more renewable energy, and ...Read More
What if we could improve our children’s health and our communities’ bottom lines while increasing access to transportation options that are affordable and better for our environment? We believe it is possible, and that is why we’ve joined Transportation for Vermonters, a broad new transportation coalition. As part of the T4VT coalition, VPIRG will be ...Read More