Vermont communities interested in reducing their energy bills and cutting climate pollution have something to celebrate. H.518, the Municipal Energy Resilience Initiatives bill is now law, setting the stage for $45 million in federal Covid-19 relief dollars to flow to municipalities for investments in weatherization, switching to super-efficient cold climate heat pumps or other clean options, and other potential cost- and carbon-cutting resilience measures in community buildings.
How we heat our homes and buildings – including the over 2,000 facilities owned and operated by Vermont’s municipalities – accounts for 34% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This new program is designed to help communities – smaller, more rural, and overburdened communities in particular – increase the efficiency of their buildings, install cleaner heating systems, and identify and implement other resilience-enhancing measures.
Administered by the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services in coordination with Efficiency Vermont and with technical assistance support through Regional Planning Commissions, communities can undertake energy assessments and apply for direct grants of up to $500,000 to support weatherization and energy efficiency improvements, and to supplement or fully replace fossil fuel heating systems with more efficient renewable or electric heating systems.
Some Vermont communities have already made significant investments in their municipal buildings. Several years ago, rural South Hero undertook a significant energy transformation project of their town offices, replacing their furnace, installing more efficient lights, and undertaking air-sealing and insulation upgrades – strategies that cut their fuel oil consumption by almost 1,000 gallons per year. For most communities, there is a tremendous need and opportunity to do more to cut energy costs and carbon emissions – and this program is designed to fill that gap. If you think your community could benefit from this program, the Vermont Buildings and General Services Energy Office website will have more information coming soon. And stay tuned! We’ll be sharing information about other exciting climate and clean energy progress this session all summer long, and the weatherization, clean electrification, transportation efficiency funding opportunities those investments can provide you, your family or community.