Pitch Summary:

Twenty-five percent (25%) of Vermonters are considered low income – living at or below
200% of the poverty rate. This segment of the population also carries the highest energy
burden – spending, as a percentage of income, 3 to 5 times as much as other Vermonters.
Low-income Vermonters deserve to benefit from the financial benefit of net-metering and
the resulting price stability. Perhaps as important, Vermont NEEDS this segment of the
population to participate in order to meet its goals. The development of sustainable energy
policies that encourage participation of our low-income populations is critical to meeting
Vermont’s energy and climate goals. These incentives should help low-income Vermonters take advantage of the opportunities that higher income Vermonters have benefited from. Low-income Vermonters live in a variety of housing situations and our policies, incentives and regulations should address the range, not just one segment. Benefits could include:

1) adders for community solar projects that have a minimum percentage of participation from either Vermonters that qualify as low-income or non-profits that primarily benefit low income Vermonters;

2) adders for individual low-income solar ownership;

3) legislation that makes on-bill financing possible so that utilities can lend to the meter (this is different from on-bill collection where money is lent to the individual and collected on the bill);

4) promote “green lease” clauses to address split incentives between owners and tenants;

5) a training program to help community members educate each other and implement weatherization, efficiency and renewables measures (with free measures to volunteers after a certain number of measure installed in their community);

6) fund to support loan guarantees to facilitate existing loan programs for weatherization, efficiency, biomass and solar;

7) lobby HUD to allow Section 8 Housing entities to retain the costs savings generated by sustainable energy investments rather than allow it to decrease the subsidy received;

8) correction of legislation that creates a six cent penalty for individuals to keep the REC’s.  Addressing this portion of the population comes with specific challenges and takes time. Policies need to be put in place for a long term so that programs and education can be built up, adopted, and expanded.

Submitted by: Christa Shute, Vermont Law School

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