New law shifts Efficiency Vermont into higher gear on transportation, thermal efficiency

September 28, 2020 | 3 min read
Dan Reilly | Public Affairs Director

Recently, Governor Scott signed legislation that will help reduce the costs Vermonters face to heat their homes and get around. The Energy Efficiency Modernization Act is a step forward in modernizing our energy efficiency utilities to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions for Vermonters.

So why now? Our 2019 energy burden report found that Vermonters spend 80% of their energy budget on how they get around and how they heat their homes. Furthermore, those two sectors represent 90% of our State’s carbon emissions.

And because of the investments hundreds of thousands of Vermonters have already made in efficiency, today the average home in Vermont uses nearly 40% less electricity a month than the national average--the third lowest household electricity consumption in the nation. In 2019 alone, Efficiency Vermont helped Vermonters save over $210 million in energy and water costs. We continue to help Vermonters find new ways to save electricity as they invest in new electric appliances like heat pumps.

Over the past few years, Vermont’s energy leaders have worked to understand how that success could be a model for addressing the high costs in the transportation and thermal sectors.

Due to our statewide platform and existing infrastructure, Efficiency Vermont is uniquely positioned to expand the state’s GHG reductions through energy efficiency efforts aimed particularly at the transportation and thermal sectors, in partnership with other utilities and state agencies.

The Energy Efficiency Modernization Act, which the Legislature passed in early September and Governor Scott signed into law on September 23rd, takes an important step towards aligning energy costs and greenhouse gases.

Over the course of a three-year pilot, the bill allows Efficiency Vermont to use up to $2 million per year of its existing funding for offerings that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the thermal and transportation sectors. This pilot furthers the successful collaboration between Efficiency Vermont and the other utilities to serve Vermonters.

Practically, this means that Efficiency Vermont can do more to help homes, businesses, and non-profits save money and reduce GHG emissions. While details are still being finalized, the bill could allow us to expand weatherization programs and launch new programs targeted at low- and moderate-income families to lower home heating costs considerably. Additionally, this could mean helping more Vermonters navigate the process of owning or leasing an affordable Electric Vehicle.

By using existing funding, this bill ensures that the pilot won’t result in additional costs for Vermonters. It will, however, create new opportunities for Vermonters to save money and energy. Since our creation, Efficiency Vermont has been in the business of transforming markets. Today, LED lights and efficient appliances are more accessible and affordable for all Vermonters. Heat pumps are rapidly growing in popularity, from the very first few installed in 2010 to over 18,000 just 10 years later. That is in large part thanks to Efficiency Vermont’s engagement and support of the supply chain.

As a three-year pilot, this bill creates an important testing ground to understand the most impactful ways we can serve Vermonters in this changing energy landscape. Key to our success will be collaboration. In the coming weeks, we will engage with our partners and customers across the state to understand how this pilot can support and add to existing work and meet the needs of Vermonters. Those conversations will inform a proposal to our regulators as we plan for how to meet our broader goals and the goals of this pilot.

The Energy Efficiency Modernization Act is just one step to address Vermonters’ energy burden. But it is an important step forward that benefits from the strong resources Vermont has already built to tackle our energy challenges.

We are grateful for this opportunity to serve Vermont in new ways while advancing our mission to save energy and money for all Vermonters.