2017 Annual Progress Report

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New Report on Vermont’s Energy & Climate Commitments Shows Mixed Progress to Date

Montpelier – The Energy Action Network (EAN), a diverse network of business, non-profit, and public sector stakeholders committed to achieving 90% of Vermont’s energy needs through efficiency and renewable energy by 2050, today released its 2017 Annual Report. The in-depth analysis draws on state and federal data to show the status of Vermont’s progress toward its energy and climate commitments.

The EAN report shows that, as of 2017, Vermont’s energy use was 20% renewable, up from 12% renewable in 2010. However, as of the latest data, Vermont’s emissions have increased 4% since 1990, far short of the pace necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets — especially given that Vermont’s emissions have been increasing since 2011, after having declined from 2004-2011.

In 2017 Governor Scott re-committed to Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan goal of 90% renewable energy by 2050 across all energy uses, the first milestone of which is 25% renewable by 2025, a goal that is also in Vermont statute. The Governor has also committed Vermont to the Paris Agreement, which means reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The Paris Agreement complements Vermont’s own statutory emissions commitment, which is a 50% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2028. Vermont’s energy and climate commitments are closely interrelated, with energy accounting for 80% of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Most of Vermont’s progress to its current 20% overall renewable status has come from the increasing renewability of its electric generation sector. However, electricity only makes up 27% of Vermont’s total energy use. The transportation and thermal sectors, which use far more energy and consume vast amounts of fossil fuel, lag far behind in their renewability.

“It is clear that our current trajectory will not get us to 90% renewable by 2050… and it may not even get us to the first milestone of 25% renewable by 2025. Vermont has made significant progress in making its electric sector more renewable, thanks to policies like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the 2015 Renewable Energy Standard, as well as the work of our efficiency and distribution utilities. However, unless we take new and significant action to make our transportation and heating energy use more renewable, there is a limit to how much more progress we can make toward our 90% by 2050 commitments,” said Jared Duval, Executive Director of the Energy Action Network.

Together, transportation and thermal energy use make up nearly three-quarters of Vermont’s total energy use and are responsible for 70% of Vermont’s GHG emissions. As of 2017, Vermont’s transportation energy use was only 5% renewable, while its thermal energy use was 20% renewable, primarily from wood heat.

Additional signs of progress include:

  • As of 2017, there are approximately 19,000 clean energy jobs in Vermont, up from fewer than 15,000 in 2013.
  • Vermont leads the nation in the share of building heating met with wood, at 21%.
  • Electric vehicle ownership in Vermont doubled in 2017, to over 2,300 vehicles.

However, the report also identifies where significant work is still needed:

  • Vermont’s transportation and thermal sectors remain heavily dependent on fossil fuel (95% and 80%, respectively).
  • Approximately 78 cents of every dollar that Vermonters spend on fossil fuels leave the state. In 2015, nearly $1.5 billion dollars drained out of the Vermont economy because of our dependence on 100% imported fossil fuels.
  • Over 55% of Vermont’s heating comes from propane and fuel oil, polluting fossil fuels with volatile prices that make budgeting difficult for many Vermont households, particularly our most vulnerable.
  • Vermont has the 2nd highest fuel oil consumption per capita in the nation.
  • The rate of solar growth is slowing, with newly added capacity declining by 30% from 2016 to 2017, and new wind generation has all but stopped.

EAN’s report also outlines the scale and pace of the energy transition that would be necessary over the next seven years to meet the Paris climate agreement and 25% renewable by 2025 targets that Vermont has committed to. Among 10 key technology pathways that are needed to meet these commitments, three of the largest opportunities are:  

  • Replacing 60,000 fossil fueled vehicles with electric vehicles.
  • Installing 25,000 Advanced Wood Heat systems (efficient boilers and stoves), displacing fossil fuel heating.
  • Installing 60,000 cold climate heat pump systems, displacing fossil fuel heating.

The report also highlights 13 policy ideas for how to meet Vermont’s energy and climate commitments while improving Vermont’s economy. These proposals were presented by members across the Energy Action Network at the November 2017 VT Energy & Climate Summit, which was co-hosted by the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition.

About the Energy Action Network

The Energy Action Network was formed in 2009, as a diverse group of stakeholders with a shared mission of ending Vermont’s dependence on fossil fuels and moving to an efficient and renewable energy future. Now with over four hundred members, the Network tracks progress toward Vermont’s energy and climate commitments, hosts and facilitates strategic convenings, and provides comprehensive energy analysis.

Jared Duval, Executive Director, Energy Action Network

Phone: (802) 829-7421   * Email: jduval@eanvt.org   * Web: eanvt.org

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