Energy in the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Region
In communities in our region, and throughout Vermont, the cost of energy represents a sizeable amount of overall yearly municipal expenditures. The cost of fossil fuels, while volatile and fluctuating, has steadily increased over the last several decades. These ever-increasing costs drain tax dollars out of the local economy and limit funding for projects and programs that benefit our communities.
More importantly the costs associated with a rapidly changing climate, due primarily to the combustion of fossil fuels, continue to mount year after year. The consequences of our changing climate impact our region directly in the form of higher temperatures, increased precipitation, and more frequent heavy precipitation events. These changes impact everything from our health, to the health of our ecosystems, to the health of our economy. In short, our energy systems are unsustainable and need to be transformed.
Thankfully, the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Region possesses the resources to make this transformation possible, and benefit from clean, renewable, affordable energy. From our buildings to our transportation system, to our electric generation systems, clean, efficient alternatives to existing technologies are available today, and in many cases are cheaper to operate and install than their fossil fuel counterparts. If done correctly, the transition to clean energy and less energy-intensive systems will benefit all members of our communities in the form of lower costs, a cleaner environment, and a stable climate.
The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission is committed to working with our communities on their energy planning efforts. We can assist towns with the drafting of energy or climate action plans, the implementation of energy-conscious land use regulations, and the creation of internal policies aimed at reducing municipal energy use. As a regional organization, we are involved in the review of proposed alternative energy generation facilities and generally to support them whenever they appear to be appropriate for the community in which they will be located.
Wood Heating in Vermont
Wood Heat Road Map: the State has a goal of reaching 35% of our thermal energy needs from wood heat by 2030 through the adoption of automated wood heat, or, put another way – doubling the use of wood heat. I am attaching a report done by the Biomass Energy Resource Center and Renewable Energy Vermont that outlines a roadmap to achieving those goals.
Used Car Mileage Smart Program:
Income-qualifying Vermonters can get up to $5,000 for a USED car that gets better gas mileage. Save money on your next car purchase by paying less upfront and buying less gas over its life! If you plan to trade-in your current vehicle, the money can be used to pay off debt owed. Special low-interest rates are available for financing your purchase.
More info here: https://www.mileagesmartvt.org/
Incentives for New Electric or Plug-In Hybrid Cars
Income-qualifying Vermonters can get several rebates to buy or lease a NEW
plug-in hybrid or all-electric car.
– Up to $5,000 from the State of VT
– PLUS up to $2,500 and a free charger from Green Mountain Power
– PLUS up to $7,500 in Federal Tax Credits!
Capstone Community Action and South Eastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) will provide free weatherization services to homes in eligible VT towns. Weatherization can help lower your fuel bills and make your home more comfortable. Check their website to see if you qualify.
VT Solar Guide
A Vermonter’s Guide to Residential Solar – a free guidebook produced by the Clean Energy States Alliance and the Vermont Public Service Department. The guide was updated in the fall of 2018 to reflect changes in Vermont’s net metering rules.
Regional Energy Dashboard:
Why Should Your Town Engage in Energy Planning?
Energy use and production (and their related financial and environmental costs) impact everyone in a community, which is why municipal governments are expected to address this topic if they choose to develop a Town Plan.
Consider these facts:
- “Over the last decade, Vermont has spent an average of about $2 billion a year on fossil fuels, with 75% of those dollars draining right out of state. For context, Vermont’s entire Gross State Product was approximately $33 billion in 2018. For the Vermonters who take the efficient and renewable energy actions needed to meet the State’s energy goals, individual savings will vary but could be nearly $10,000 per household from 2020–2035, or over $650 per year. (Energy Action Network, 2019 Annual Progress Report for Vermont, p. 5)”
- “After trending upward between 2010 and 2015, Vermont’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions finally began declining in 2016. However, as of 2016, we are still 13% above our 1990 levels.” (Energy Action Network, 2019 Annual Progress Report for Vermont, p. 3).
- “Our two biggest sources of emissions come from how we get around (transportation) and how we heat and cool our homes and businesses (thermal), which together cause over 70% of Vermont’s climate pollution… Compared to a 1990 baseline, emissions from transportation, residential and commercial fuel use, and industrial processes have increased. Emissions from electricity consumption, waste management, and agriculture have declined. This data reinforces the point that as we continue our progress in the electric sector, we have to increase our focus on transforming our transportation and thermal sectors.” (Energy Action Network, 2019 Annual Progress Report for Vermont, p. 9).
In 2011, the State of Vermont developed a Comprehensive Energy Plan with the goal of obtaining “90% of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2050.” In order to meet this goal, municipalities and residents need to find creative ways to reduce energy use, conserve energy (or use it more efficiently), and produce and utilize more renewable energy.
The Comprehensive Energy Plan was updated in 2022, and can be viewed here.
In 2020, the State of Vermont passed the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), establishing greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements for the first time. The passage of the GWSA led to the creation and adoption of the Vermont Climate Action Plan.
How Can We Help You?
Our staff at the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission is committed to helping you develop energy-related goals, policies, and actions, and then implement them at the local level. Our staff can help you:
- Incorporate Energy into Your Town Plan & Zoning
- Create an Energy Committee or Coordinator Position
- Find Data on Energy Use & Existing or Potential Energy Production in Your Town
- Implement Your Energy Policies & Actions at the Town Level
- Find Funding for Implementing Energy Actions & Projects
Kevin Geiger, Director of Planning