Charting the course: the future of efficiency in the green mountain state

by Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont

We strive to make energy saving decisions easy and cost-effective for all Vermonters. As we plan our work—charting a course for the next three years—we want to hear from Vermonters. What we need to hear from you is: What is working well and what needs improvement?

In the rearview mirror: where we’ve been

As we look to the future, it’s good time to take stock of how Efficiency Vermont is doing, as well as saluting the accomplishments of many individuals and businesses in Vermont to save energy.

The benefits of reducing Vermont’s energy usage are significant. In 2013, energy savings in Vermont resulted in $62 million in net economic value to Vermont. Energy use in Vermont was 13 percent lower than it would have been and about 1,200 homes lowered their heating bills. At the same time Vermont deferred $279 million in transmission and electric system upgrades.

The road ahead: our three year plan

So, what do we hope to achieve in the next three years? We plan to deliver $340 million in savings to Vermont homes and businesses.

We’ll do that by continuing to offer a range of programs and support to every sector and region of the state – and we will work in partnership with our regulators at the Vermont Public Service Board, and the Department of Public Service, to ensure those savings are being delivered.

We also want to work in partnership with our customers to provide solutions to the major challenges they contact us about. First and foremost, we want to do as much as we can to button up more homes – and help more Vermonters save money on their heating bills. This is an especially urgent challenge for Vermonters who make too much money to qualify for free weatherization services – but who cannot afford to spend several thousand dollars in one shot on a comprehensive home efficiency project. We have some ideas on how we can help address that challenge, including new financing options; programs that help people to make small, lower-cost efficiency improvements over time; and support for local community outreach efforts that connect people with information and assistance to make changes in their homes. We hope these forums will bring new ideas to the table, get your feedback, and improve our programs.

We want to be ahead of the curve on bringing new technologies to Vermonters. Today we promote leading edge technologies like LED lighting , air source heat pumps, and solar water heaters to homes and businesses. In the coming years, we want to continue to offer Vermonters more opportunities to put these and other new technologies to work saving energy.

And, finally, we want to make energy efficiency a simple and easy option for everyone. Many of Efficiency Vermont’s most successful programs are virtually invisible to customers, who can access low-cost technologies such as LED and CFL light bulbs without the hassle of a rebate form. Over the next three years, we plan to explore new, streamlined, and effective ways to deliver greater energy savings to even more Vermonters.

Give us your feedback: join us at a community forum

I’ll be hosting a series of eight community forums around the state and I want to hear from as many Vermonters as I can. I am looking forward to an open conversation about what you see as the future of energy efficiency in Vermont. You can find out more about the forums and RSVP at www.efficiencyvermont.com/communityforums.

If you can’t make it to a forum, the comments below are a great place to add your thoughts. Tell us: What should our priorities be for the next three years? How can we better serve all Vermonters and help them reduce their energy costs? I look forward to our continued work with you over the next three years.

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