Together Vermonters can restart the economy

May 28, 2020 | 4 min read
Rebecca Foster | Director

Vermonters came together by staying apart. By adhering to stay-at-home guidance, we helped “flatten the curve” of COVID 19 cases. Working together, Vermonters will also help get the state’s economy back on track.

As we enter a new phase in our response to the COVID-19 crisis and begin to turn our focus to our economic recovery, one way to stimulate economic activity is through investing in energy efficiency improvements.

At the same time, many of us are understandably wary of spending money right now amid record high unemployment and an uncertain economic future. Recognizing this, Efficiency Vermont is redesigning offers to help the people and businesses that have been hardest hit. Our goal is to lower your ongoing energy costs while avoiding or delaying upfront costs. This can save Vermonters money while simultaneously creating work opportunities for our supply chain partners, including contractors, retailers, and distributors.

We’ve already begun rolling out new offers (see our current offers for Vermonters here), with many more in development that will be announced in the coming weeks. While our offers support all Vermonters, our main areas of focus are on those who have been hardest hit by the economic downturn:

  • Low- and moderate-income residential customers – many of whom have lost work as a result of the pandemic:
    • In addition to discounts and rebates on heat pumps and weatherization projects, we will also pay the first six months of loan payments (up to $900) for projects that use our 0% interest Home Energy Loan. 
    • Offering free pickup, recycling, and cash back for old, but working, appliances
    • New rebates on efficient appliances that support healthy homes like air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers
  • Small dairy farms – a staple industry that is an integral part of Vermont’s culture and economy:
    • Covering up to 50% of the cost of vent fans and variable frequency drives (VFDs) that keep herds and farmers comfortable 
    • Covering up to 25% of the cost of high efficiency cooling systems and heat recovery units that can increase milk checks and save money
  • Controlled environment food producers – farmers who depend on energy to extend growing seasons and help feed Vermont:
    • Covering up to 50% of upfront costs for efficient upgrades through custom incentives and technical assistance designed to maximize savings
  • Non-profit organizations – who provide vital services to the most vulnerable Vermonters:
    • Reducing costs for qualifying efficient appliances and upgrades
  • Small businesses – the backbone of our economy and job market:
    • Up to four months of loan payments deferred for efficient upgrades
    • Custom plans and incentives designed for businesses to support high-ROI solutions
  • Restaurants – feeding Vermonters and feeding the economy, restaurants have subsisted on take-out business only with reduced revenues and reduced workforce:
    • Discounts on new, efficient commercial kitchen equipment that increases productivity and reduces operating expenses.

Clean energy investments like energy efficiency can be a powerful tool to stimulate the economy. A recent Reuters report examined a study of 700 economic stimulus policies implemented since the 2008 financial crisis and found that “green projects such as boosting renewable energy or energy efficiency create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns, and lead to increased long-term cost savings relative to traditional stimulus measures.” 

In fact, since the governor’s stay-at-home order first went into effect on March 25, Efficiency Vermont has paid more than $4.7 million in incentives to partners and customers who have completed more than 1,300 energy efficiency projects. In combination with investments made by those customers, this has created significant economic activity in Vermont. Or goal is to accelerate that activity with our redesigned programs.

When Vermonters take advantage of these new offers, they will be making an investment that lowers their own energy costs and spurs our economy. Clean energy projects involve manufacturers, distributors, contractors, retailers, builders, designers, and architects. And most importantly, they save Vermonters money.

Many of these businesses have done their part by suspending work to comply with stay-at-home orders and keep us all safe. Now, let’s help them get back to work.