One of the critical lessons from the COVID pandemic is that our highly interdependent global economy is more vulnerable to disruptions than we previously thought. While we cannot predict how or when we will rebound from this pandemic, we know that investing in our local economy will make us more resilient.
Over the last decade, Vermonters collectively spent an average of approximately $2 billion a year on fossil fuels for transportation and heating. Because we import 100% of that fossil fuel, the vast majority of those energy dollars leave the state (up to 80%, depending on the fuel). In contrast, when we invest in any of the efficient and renewable energy alternatives, a much higher percentage of our energy dollars stay local and recirculate in Vermont—from 60 cents of every dollar invested in weatherization to 80 cents or more of every dollar spent on local wood. Weatherization, efficient electric heating and transportation, and local wood heat support jobs for Vermonters, improving our state’s economy, and, in turn, increasing community and household resilience.
Some Vermonters have the means to immediately improve their personal and household resiliency through purchasing efficient, clean technology to meet their transportation and home heating needs. Unfortunately, many Vermonters—including those who are predicted to suffer most during and after the COVID pandemic—are unable to make these up-front investments. If we are to meet our energy and emissions goals and successfully prepare for disruptions in a climate-altered world, we must improve and expand the resources available to lower- and middle-income Vermonters, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the energy transition while improving our resiliency.