The Energy Action Network (EAN), consisting of over two hundred Vermont businesses and organizations working together to help Vermont meet its energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, today shared with the Vermont Climate Action Commission and Vermont legislative leaders nearly fifty energy and climate policy ideas. Over the past two months, EAN invited its members to submit “policy pitches” following Governor Scott’s creation of the Vermont Climate Action Commission, which is tasked with proposing at least three substantive actions on climate by the end of the year. Network members across Vermont responded with an outpouring of proposals: 48 pitches were received from over 40 different businesses, organizations, and individuals.
Based on criteria laid out in Governor Scott’s executive order and on “demonstrated ability to improve the Vermont economy, increase Vermont’s share of renewable energy, and decrease Vermont’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” thirteen submissions were selected by EAN to be presented at the Vermont Climate and Energy Summit (Nov. 8) at Champlain College, co-hosted by the Energy Action Network and the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition. The Coalition was launched by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Governor Scott earlier this year to underscore Vermont’s commitment to reaching the Paris Climate Agreement targets of reducing GHG by 26-28% by 2025 (from 2005 levels).
Summit attendees included EAN and Coalition members, and nearly twenty legislators. Additionally, members of the Governor’s Climate Action Commission were invited as honored guests and nearly all attended. All attendees heard a diverse array of policy pitches, ranging across energy sectors and the political spectrum.
- A $100 million revenue bond to invest in weatherization of 10,000 low-income Vermont homes, pitched by Neale Lunderville of Burlington Electric Department.
- Increasing the share of Vermont heating met with local, sustainable wood products from what is currently 21% up to 35% by 2030, by displacing fossil fuels with advanced wood heat systems, pitched by Maura Adams of the Northern Forest Center and Ansley Bloomer of Renewable Energy Vermont.
- Use and leverage of the Volkswagen settlement funds to replace inefficient and dirty diesel buses (public and school) with an electric bus fleet, pitched by Cara Robechek of the Vermont Energy Education Program and Abby Bleything of the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition.
- Extending Vermont’s successful experience with emissions trading to cover our largest emissions sector — transportation — either by working to expand the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or by joining the Western Climate Initiative, pitched by Mary Peterson, tax accountant, and Daniel Gatti of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- A comprehensive plan to benefit low-income Vermonters with financial savings and the price stability of net-metered solar and efficiency investments, including consumer protected on-bill financing, pitched by Christa Shute of Vermont Law School.
- The Economy Strengthening Strategic Energy eXchange, or ESSEX plan, which aims to reduce effective electric rates (with additional support to low income and rural Vermonters) by pricing carbon, pitched by Ashley Orgain of Seventh Generation.
In addition to the 13 pitches presented at the Summit, EAN compiled the rest of the pitches into one comprehensive submission for the Commission and for the Legislature, which was shared today and is also available at https://eanvt.org/events-and-initiatives/vermont-energy-climate-summit-2017/
“The pitches shared by EAN provide a stimulating set of ideas toward meeting the state’s energy and climate goals while spurring economic opportunities for Vermonters,” said Paul Costello, co-chair of the Vermont Climate Action Commission. “These will be important contributions to the short and longer term deliberations of the Governor’s Climate Action Commission.”
“The pitches we heard last week reflalso you ect Vermonters’ commitment to solutions to this global crisis,” said Peter Walke, co-chair of the Vermont Climate Action Commission. “While we keep our attention on Vermont’s long-term goals, we need to start implementing solutions now.”
Data and analysis from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources show that Vermont is still far from meeting the Paris GHG goals, and even further from its more ambitious statutory GHG goals, which target a 50% reduction from 1990 emissions levels by 2028. As of 2013, Vermont’s GHG emissions had increased by 4% since 1990.
State data show that while Vermont has made significant progress in making its electric sector more renewable, especially in the last decade, electricity accounts for less than a quarter of Vermont total energy use and for less than 10% of state GHG emissions. “If we are to meet our state renewable energy and emissions reduction goals, we need to make our biggest energy-use sectors – transportation and heating – much more efficient and renewable,” said Linda McGinnis, Program Director at Energy Action Network. “Together heating and transportation account for a full 70% of Vermont’s GHG emissions” McGinnis added.
Aside from Vermont’s statutory emissions goal, EAN analysis of State data shows that just hitting the Paris Climate Agreement target that Governor Scott has recently supported would require fast and significant action. McGinnis explained that, “To give an idea of what would be needed, we identified ten of the highest impact drivers to help us meet these goals. The top four were:
- Increasing the number of electric vehicles in Vermont from 2,000 today to 55,000 by 2025
- Displacing fossil fuel heating with 40,000 advanced wood heating systems by 2025
- Displacing fossil fuel heating with 60,000 cold climate heat pumps by 2025
- Retrofitting 50,000 buildings to be more energy efficient by 2025”
“Together, these four drivers would get Vermont 60% of the way to the Paris targets — so, while significant, even they are not enough,” McGinnis explained. “The take-home message is that there is no silver bullet to hit our State goals, so we need to pursue significant action on multiple fronts, simultaneously.”
“These policy pitches could not come at a more important time,” said Duval. “If we are to bend the curve to meet our fast-approaching energy and emissions goals, it will take smart policies to help unleash new markets and continue creating clean energy jobs. Thanks to the expertise and creativity of dozens of Vermonters who have responded to the call for policy ideas, administration officials, Climate Action Commission members, and Legislators now have the proposals they need to take comprehensive action up to the scale of Vermont’s stated ambition. While it is not EAN’s role to endorse or advocate for any individual proposals, we are confident that many of the ideas needed to meet our shared goals for Vermont exist among this group. The opportunity for our leaders now is to identify multiple proposals to move forward and, by so doing, benefit Vermont and Vermonters, and help Vermont lead the way to a renewable energy transformation for the rest of rural America.”