How efficiency saved a town (energy and money)
In 2014, the St. Albans region was selected to participate in a year-long Efficiency Vermont program to expand access to energy efficiency. The northern Vermont city had issues with transmission constraints and high demand for electricity during the summer months. The Vermont System Planning Committee (VSPC) recommended, and the Vermont Public Utility Commission approved, a focused effort to help the region invest in energy efficiency and reduce electric use.
The goal of the project was to avoid transmission upgrades by reducing energy use and demand in the area, particularly during the summer peaks. In partnership with the community, Efficiency Vermont developed strategies to help lighten the load on the existing systems.
The plans to reduce energy usage and demand included:
- A strong focus on helping large commercial and industrial customers
- Enhanced engagement with small and medium-sized businesses
- Expanded promotion of efficient technologies in the region
- Delivering services to key community groups, such as low-income residents, farms, and schools
By the end of the year, more than 100 efficiency projects were completed with businesses in St. Albans. These projects have a combined annual savings for customers of nearly $500,000. The City of St. Albans completed several efficiency upgrades which are saving them over $35,000 in annual energy savings. Projects included:
In addition, area schools participated in LED fundraisers, selling more than 25,000 LED bulbs in a single month. About 1000 free energy saving kits containing easy-to-install efficient products were distributed to St. Albans residents. Eligible low‐income residents received more than 100 free high-efficiency refrigerators, and 20 high-efficiency clothes washers.
These projects led to a significant drop in energy use for the St. Albans region, including important savings on the summer’s peak demand load. Reducing demand on the electric grid has removed the projected need for new reliability measures for at least 10 years in the St. Albans region.
The targeted effort in the St. Albans area delivered results. The energy saving projects completed in 2014 equal more than 89,000 lifetime megawatt hour savings. That is enough to power every home in the city of St. Albans for almost two years.
The success in St. Albans paved the way for similar efforts across the state. It provided a model for bringing community partners and members together to increase awareness and access to energy efficiency services. Through partnership with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), town energy committees coordinated by the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN), and the Regional Planning Commissions, Efficiency Vermont has worked with nearly 20 other communities since 2014.