Clean energy goals: It’s up to us

by Karen Glitman, Efficiency Vermont Director

As Vermonters we are proud of our state’s reputation as a leader of clean energy policy and environmental stewardship. When it comes to protecting life on Earth from the threat of climate change, Vermont has made commitments that represent a model for other states. Just a few years ago, the state committed to meeting 90 percent of our energy needs through efficiency and renewable energy by the year 2050.

That’s something to be proud of, but a new report from the Energy Action Network (EAN) shows that while some progress towards our renewable and efficiency goals are on track, we have work to do:

It is clear that our current trajectory will not get us to 90% renewable by 2050… and it may not even get us to the first milestone of 25% renewable by 2025. Vermont has made significant progress in making its electric sector more renewable, thanks to policies like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the 2015 Renewable Energy Standard, as well as the work of our efficiency and distribution utilities. However, unless we take new and significant action to make our transportation and heating energy use more renewable, there is a limit to how much more progress we can make toward our 90% by 2050 commitments.

Jared Duval, Executive Director of the Energy Action Network

Let’s get to work!

Efficiency Vermont continues to partner with residents, businesses, state agencies, and environmental advocates to advance energy efficiency efforts in our state that can get our homes and businesses ready to transition to renewable power. One of our partners is EAN, a network of nonprofits, businesses, and public agencies whose goal is to advance Vermont’s transition to a sustainable energy future.

EAN’s report makes it clear that we have a long way to go before we realize our short- and long-term goals identified in Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan. Here are some of the findings:

  • As of 2017, Vermont is using 20 percent renewable energy, up from 12 percent in 2010. The Comprehensive Energy Plan establishes a milestone goal of reaching 25 percent renewables by 2025.
  • Despite this progress, the rate of growth for solar and wind is slowing dramatically, straining our ability to transition to more renewables.
  • We remain highly reliant on fossil fuel for transportation and heating. Combined, these two sectors contribute to 70 percent of Vermont’s climate pollution.

The good news is that Vermont has a path forward for meeting its clean energy goals. Transitioning to electric vehicles, using innovative heating solutions such as advanced wood heat and heat pumps, and displacing fossil fuels with more sustainable sources are all achievable goals. So is energy efficiency, because after all, the most sustainable way to use energy is to use less.

EAN’s report is a valuable yardstick for measuring our progress toward a sustainable future. While recognizing the progress we’ve made, the report shows the need for a sustained effort involving multiple stakeholders, from businesses to state and local governments, in order to reach our energy goals.

We have recognized there is a huge opportunity when it comes to buttoning up our homes and businesses. This will allow Vermonters to use less fuel to stay comfortable and healthy during our cold winters and hot summers. And, by reducing energy demand through efficiency the switch to renewable energy is easier to achieve.

Along with our partners, Efficiency Vermont is accelerating weatherization of Vermont homes, in support of Vermont’s goal of having 60,000 more structures weatherized by 2025. Here’s how:

  • We can double the number of participants in our Deep Retrofit program, which uses whole-building and integrative design principles to achieve greater savings than conventional energy retrofits
  • We are working to reduce heating costs for 25,000 homes by 2020; and at the same time decrease the average cost of a weatherization project by 25 percent

These steps are an important part of the story that Vermont will tell in 2025 and again in 2050 of how we reached our energy goals, saved Vermonters money, reduced the energy burden for Vermonters on a tight budget, and did our part in the face of a changing climate.

I encourage every Vermonter to think about what they can do to help Vermont achieve its clean energy goals. At Efficiency Vermont we are looking to partner with you to make your home or business more energy efficient, more affordable, and more comfortable. I hope you will give us a call and take advantage of the rebates, programs, and expert staff who can help you develop a plan and put it into action. They’re just a phone call away: (888) 921-5990.

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