Efficiency Vermont statement on signing of S. 202

Rutland, VT

Efficiency Vermont Director Jim Merriam issued the following statement in conjunction with the signing into law of S. 202:

We applaud Governor Shumlin today as he officially signs S. 202 into law.

This law represents an important step forward for Vermont’s energy policy. Consistent with the Governor’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, we are moving towards an approach that doesn’t just call for reducing the use of certain types of energy. Instead, it calls for Efficiency Vermont to help Vermont families and businesses understand what their best energy choices are from a cost and a carbon perspective, and then act on that information. That might mean that in some cases we actually encourage the use of more electricity, but less oil or propane.

The last year has seen a surge in interest among Vermonters in cold climate heat pump technology, with more than 2,400 units purchased from vendors across the state. When installed correctly, this technology can offer savings on heating bills and reduce environmental impact by displacing the use of fossil fuels with relatively clean electricity. Heat pumps make incredibly efficient use of electricity to heat buildings for about half the cost of oil or propane.

Over the last five months, Efficiency Vermont worked closely with key legislators, Governor Shumlin, and our regulators at the Public Service Board and Public Service Department to help ensure that this transition to wider use of heat pump technology will maximize the economic and environmental benefits to Vermonters, while minimizing potential drawbacks.

It is important for Vermonters to have an independent source of guidance and support when they are considering installing a new technology in their homes. Not all heat pumps are equally efficient. Not all heat pumps work well in Vermont’s cold climate. Not all homes are currently well-suited to taking advantage of heat pumps. Efficiency Vermont’s role has always been to help our customers make the investments that are right for them, and to choose the best technologies when doing so. That is the approach we will take with heat pump technology.

It is also important that the transition to using electricity for heating is managed to avoid the creation of higher peak demand loads in Vermont’s electric system, which would result in more expensive power, and more pollution. As the Governor noted in his budget address earlier this year, energy efficiency and distributed renewable generation in Vermont has helped to defer nearly $400 million in regional electric infrastructure costs. We need to continue to drive those costs down, and not go backwards.

In helping to bring the benefits of cold climate heat pump technology to Vermonters, Efficiency Vermont will advance several initiatives:

  • Launch a new incentive program in 2014 to lower the cost of the most efficient cold climate heat pump models at point of purchase with distributors and vendors throughout Vermont
  • Ramp up collaboration with suppliers to bring leading-edge cold climate heat pump models to Vermont
  • Continue providing consumer information about heat pump technology, through our toll-free call center, 1-888-921-5990, and at efficiencyvermont.com/coldclimateheatpump
  • Increase training opportunities for vendors and contractors to ensure that cold climate heat pumps are installed correctly – and when they are cost-effective for customers
  • Collaborate with the Public Service Board, the Public Service Department, and our partners at Vermont’s utilities to help ensure heat pump adoption minimally impacts our electric infrastructure.

I want to thank Governor Shumlin, our supporters in the Vermont Legislature, our utility partners, and the Public Service Department for working closely with Efficiency Vermont to make today’s event possible. We look forward to being able to put this technology to work to help Vermonters save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

About Efficiency Vermont

Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and is regulated by the Vermont Public Utility Commission to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont's environment. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com

Efficiency Vermont
Jeff Buell
Phone: (802) 540-7662
jbuell@veic.org