Energy in the TRO Region
In communities in our region, and throughout Vermont, the cost of energy represents a sizeable amount of overall yearly municipal expenditures. For our towns, energy use has an obvious financial impact. How we utilize and generate energy, in all its forms, is of concern to everyone in the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Region. Energy use impacts us financially, environmentally and even culturally.
In the past decade we have seen the cost of energy rise dramatically primarily in response to the increasing cost of oil. Because our use of petroleum and its byproducts is so prevalent throughout society, these growing expenses may have serious impacts on our communities in the future. In addition the financial, energy production and use has a distinct impact on our environment. Transportation, the largest single user of energy in the United States, creates pollution which adds to the rising level of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, thus contributing to climate instability through global warming. Outdated energy generation plants suffer failures that release toxic pollutants into our water system and create public health hazards. In order to reduce these, we must plan for a future that does not depend so heavily on fossil fuels, encourages energy conservation and promotes alternative energy use.
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, try 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.
–Capstone Community Action 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:
- “Approximately two-thirds of Vermont’s total energy use is for heating and transportation, and nearly all of those dollars are for fossil fuels and flow out of state. Last year, Vermonters paid over $600 million to import fossil fuels for use in our homes, businesses, and other buildings. See the Regulator Assistance Project, Affordable Heat Report 6-29-2011 and Vol. 2, Sec. 6-8. That is almost $300 million more than we were paying a decade earlier.” (Vermont Comprehensive Plan, Volume 1, 2011)
- “Because of our rural character and land use patterns, Vermonters drive more than most other Americans. Indeed, transportation costs usually are the second-largest expense of a household, after housing costs. And combustion of transportation fuels accounts for 47% of Vermont’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. See Vol. 2, Sec. 9. (Vermont Comprehensive Plan, Volume 1, 2011)
- “Since 2004, total emissions in Vermont have steadily declined by approximately 3% per year. However, trends indicate that we are still well behind our goals of achieving GHG emission levels 25% below 1990 levels by 2012 and 50% below 1990 by 2028. We will not reach the 2028 goal without more direct efforts to lower the state’s contribution to global warming” (Vermont Comprehensive Plan, Volume 1, 2011)
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 2016, and can be viewed here
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
Dee Gish, Finance Manager
Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner