Total Energy News – August 2020
Your Update on Vermont and National Energy News
This month we wanted to share some of the ways EAN has been trying to center equity in our work.
In May and June, our part-time Energy Research Analyst Pamela Hathaway conducted a review of equity definitions, frameworks, and practices used in our network and beyond. This resulted in a series of recommendations for how to use EAN’s strengths as a network to promote energy equity. You can find key takeaways from that analysis here. Pamela completed her work with EAN in July and we are grateful for her contributions.
Throughout July and August EAN Senior Fellow and former board member Christine Donovan volunteered to lead a summer internship program at EAN. She supported two undergraduate interns, Jennah Slayton and Tara Santi, who each conducted research into aspects of energy inequity in Vermont. Their research focused on: Inequities in Energy Burden and Fuel-Type Use by Income in VT; and Low-Income Barriers to Uptake of Energy Efficiency and Beneficial Electrification in the Northeast Kingdom. You can find a recording of their final presentation as well as their slide decks and final papers on our website.
Through August 31, EAN is accepting pitch proposals of promising opportunities to help Vermont rapidly, cost-effectively, and equitably reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas pollution. This year we will be prioritizing pitches that:
  • Promote energy equity – that all people should have access to reliable, safe, and affordable sources of energy; protection from a disproportionate share of negative impacts or externalities associated with building and operating our energy supply and distribution systems; and equitable distribution of and access to benefits from these systems.
As EAN works to balance the need for rapid, cost-effective emissions reduction with an equitable energy transition that will benefit those who have been most negatively impacted by our current system, we are inspired by this brilliant and hopeful article, one of the best we’ve ever read on how to achieve a national energy transition and the climate and equity benefits of doing so. As Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, writes, “For so long we’ve been sold the lie that we have to choose between a livable planet and a thriving, equitable economy. The Rewiring America Plan puts that lie to rest once and for all. We can achieve a just transition to a better world out of the wreckage of this economic crisis.” And as reporter David Roberts summarizes, “That’s the story that needs to be told about tackling climate change. Not a story of privation or giving things up. Not a story of economic decline or inexorable ecological doom. A story about a better electrified future that is already on the way.”
Thank you for joining us in this work and for helping make the path to that future,
Jared & Carolyn
News from the World
How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly
New report shows that it’s possible to eliminate 70 percent to 80 percent of US carbon emissions by 2035 through rapid deployment of existing electrification technologies.
Many Americans struggle to afford energy during COVID
A survey of low-income households in May found that 13% of respondents had been unable to pay an energy bill, 9% had received a shutoff notice and 4% had had their electric service disconnected.
The Conversation,
Professor sheds light on energy injustice
A University of Michigan professor shares his research on green buildings and energy justice, clarifying the role that energy plays in the cost of housing.
Data Download – Thermal Fuel Use by Income and Housing Tenure
This month’s Data Download comes from the research of one of our 2020 summer interns, Jennah Slayton. The figure provides the percentage of households using each thermal fuel type normalized by income and housing tenure (whether the household rents or owns). This analysis shows that low-income renters have to manage issues specific to renters and issues specific to low-income households simultaneously.
Renters use electricity for heating more often in general, and within renters, lower-income renters use electricity for heating disproportionately more often. One explanation for this could be that, since landlords have no financial incentive to install new systems, split incentives and low installation costs of resistance heating cause the lowest-income renters to disproportionately have the highest heat costs resulting from the use of older electric resistance heating systems.
Examining housing tenure also provides insight into why higher-income households use wood for fuel disproportionately more often than lower-income households. While it is not certain why income would cause this trend, the figure demonstrates that almost all wood heating is by homeowners, not renters. Further there is little difference in the rate of wood use by homeowners across income levels, indicating that lower-income households are less likely to use wood for fuel purely because they are more likely to rent their home.
For more on the research findings of our 2020 summer interns, visit
Everything You Need to Know About Buying & Owning an EV
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
7:30 – 8:30
Drive Electric Vermont, Acorn Energy Co-op, and the Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County are hosting a free webinar about EVs tonight. The webinar will cover the basics about electric vehicles:
  • What to keep in mind if you’re considering switching from a gas-powered car.
  • Types of EVs available in Vermont (including some recently introduced models).
  • Different ways to charge, and current availability of charging options.
  • Incentives for buying an EV.
  • You’ll also hear from some Vermonters who’ve made the switch to driving an EV, including all-electric and plug-in hybrid models.
Solar Energy in VT’s Working Landscape
Thursday, Sept 10th, 2020
9:00 – 12:30
Join panels of experts and stakeholders as they explore:
  • Integrating solar photovoltaic energy facilities with pollinator and bird habitat & grazing and crop production within the Vermont Landscape.
  • Resolving site conflicts for farms and forests.
  • New approaches to development of solar energy projects.
  • Policy and regulation, town planning technology, and more…
Hosted by UVM’s Gund Institute.
Member Profile
NeighborWorks of Western VT
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont is committed to sustainable homeownership for Vermonters. They work to help Vermonters become educated about home ownership and financing, find homes to purchase, get the loans they need to buy homes, and renovate their existing homes. Their HEAT Squad program offers comprehensive low-cost energy audits and same-day energy audit reports, as well as objective advice and access to financial incentives available through Efficiency Vermont. They also connect clients to local contractors to complete energy improvements. The program serves Rutland, Addison, Bennington, Windsor, Essex, Orleans, and Caledonia counties, which include some of the highest energy burdened regions of Vermont.
The Vermont Total Energy Ticker
Duval: Energy’s role in VT’s economic recovery
EAN Executive Director Jared Duval outlines how transitioning off fossil fuels for how we get around and heat our homes should be at the center of Vermont’s economic recovery strategy.
Can Vermont’s forests help save the planet?
The Cold Hollow Carbon project in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is the first co-op model in the country to successfully enter a voluntary carbon market.
Clean energy jobs report released
The Public Service Department’s 2020 Clean Energy Industry Report highlights modest growth through 2019 but cautions that COVID will have an impact on 2020 numbers.
Have an upcoming event or news story to share? Let us know.