Energy Data and Use
When planning for your community’s energy future, it’s important to get a sense of existing energy uses and generation. Here are some guiding questions to consider while collecting data and planning for the future:
- What energy resources are being utilized and by whom (residents, businesses, municipal government)?
- Where do these resources come from (are they produced in this town, region, state, or country)?
- Does your community have the geologic/geographic/climactic capacity to produce different types of energy resources, and if yes, what kind and where?
- What is the financial impact of current energy use on your community (residents, businesses, municipal government)?
- What is the environmental impact of current energy use on your community (residents, businesses, municipal government)?
How To Find Data on Municipal Infrastructure in Your Town
In 2012, our staff researched existing energy use and costs associated with municipal buildings, vehicles, and streetlights for Two Rivers towns. TRORC generated a report for your community that detailed energy use, cost, and recommendations for improving municipal efficiency. Towns with reports include:
Barnard, Bethel, Bradford, Braintree, Brookfield, Fairlee, Hancock, Newbury, Norwich, Pittsfield, Randolph, Rochester, Royalton, Sharon, Stockbridge, Strafford, Thetford, Topsham, Tunbridge, Vershire, West Fairlee, Woodstock.
How To Find Existing Energy Audit Reports on Municipal Buildings in Your Town
With a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, our staff paid for energy audits of municipal buildings across the Two Rivers region. (An Energy Audit is a physical or structural assessment of a building and its energy use; it includes recommendations on how to improve the building in order to use less energy and save money.) The following towns/buildings received an Energy Audit:
Bradford (Bradford Academy, Town Garage, Library, Streetlight Inventory), Braintree (Town Office), Brookfield (Town Office/Library), Chelsea (School), Fairlee (EMS Facility), Hancock (Town Office), Hartland (Damon Hall, Recreation Center), Norwich (Tracy Hall), Pittsfield (Fire Department), Plymouth (Town Office & Garage), Randolph (Streetlight Inventory), Royalton (Streetlight Inventory), Sharon (Baxter Library), Stockbridge (Town Garage), Vershire (Town Garage), Woodstock (Town Hall, Streetlight Inventory)
How To Find Data on Existing and Potential Renewable Energy Resources in Your Town
To find out if and where renewable energy resources are already being generated in your community or to research your town’s potential generating capacity, you can visit the Community Energy Dashboard. This tool can be used to identify, analyze, and visualize existing and promising locations for renewable energy projects. You can focus on your town or region and consider numerous renewable energy options, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, and more.
PACKETS for Town Energy Projections and Targets: Barnard, Bethel, Bradford, Braintree, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Chelsea, Fairlee, Granville, Hancock, Hartford, Hartland, Newbury, Norwich, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Pomfret, Randolph, Rochester, Royalton, Sharon, Stockbridge, Strafford, Thetford, Topsham, Tunbridge, Vershire, West Fairlee, Woodstock.
- ELECTRIC GENERATION CONSTRAINTS REPORT 1/19/2019
- SUMMARY 1/2019 GRID ISSUES
According to the 2011 Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, energy demand grew at a 1.8% rate of growth from 1990 to 1999, but has been close to 0% for the past 10 years. The likely combination of state energy efficiency programs and the 2007–09 recession impacted energy demand across most end-use sectors. In Vermont, energy use is dominated by transportation and heating fuels. The 2010 American Community Survey indicates that the major heating fuels consumed in Vermont are oil (47%), electric (5%), wood (15%) and LPG and gas (30%).
According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, Vermont’s total energy consumption is the lowest of any state in the nation, and is among the lowest one-fifth of states in energy consumed per capita. Three-fifths of the energy consumed in Vermont is petroleum-based, with the residential sector consuming about one-fifth of petroleum products, mostly for heating oil and propane. Nearly half of all Vermont households rely on fuel oil to heat their homes, while one in six Vermont households rely on wood products for their primary heat source. Due to the rural nature of Vermont, residents drive log distances, resulting in the transportation sector consuming nearly three-fifths of all petroleum products in the state.
As stated in Vermont’s energy policy, codified in 30 V.S.A. Section 202a(1), energy goals were established “To assure, to the greatest extent practicable, that Vermont can meet its energy service needs in a manner that is adequate, reliable, secure, and sustainable; that assures affordability and encourages the state’s economic vitality, the efficient use of energy resources and cost effective demand side management; and that is environmentally sound.”
Non-Renewable Energy Sources
A non-renewable resource is “any natural resource from the Earth that exists in limited supply and cannot be replaced if it is used up; also, any natural resource that cannot be replenished by natural means at the same rates that it is consumed” (dictionary.com).
The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Region, like Vermont, depends primarily on fossil fuels for energy production and transportation. Fossil fuels (most of which are used in transportation) account for more than 50% of all energy consumed in Vermont. Nearly 50% of the oil consumed in the U.S. is imported. Our economic system is so closely tied to the availability of fossil fuels that even modest price increases can lead to inflation, a slowdown in economic growth, and monetary instability. These instabilities have a much broader impact than just our economic system. Fluctuation in the price of fossil fuels can impact our communities at the municipal and residential level as well. Increasing fuel costs make it more expensive for communities to provide services and maintain facilities. Rising costs can make it challenging for residents to heat their homes. The price and availability of food is also impacted by changes in fuel costs.
But these consequences of intensive fossil fuel use are only part of the story. The combustion of fossil fuels has been determined to be the largest contributor of atmospheric “greenhouse gases” (primarily carbon dioxide). There is consensus in the scientific community that continued accumulation of greenhouse gases within the earth’s atmosphere is causing warming of the atmosphere, or a “greenhouse effect.” Global warming causes severe coastal flooding and unpredictable climate shifts, threatening the viability of the earth’s most significant urban and agricultural centers. Vermont has experienced an increase in the number of severe weather events. In 2011 there were four federally declared disaster events, more than had ever occurred in a single year. Due to the threats of climate change, it is essential that we decrease our reliance on fossil fuels.
Renewable Energy is “any naturally occurring, theoretically inexhaustible source of energy, as biomass, solar, wind, tidal, wave, and hydroelectric power, that is not derived from fossil or nuclear fuel.” (dictionary.com)
According to the 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan, renewable energy makes up less than 20% of Vermont’s total consumption of primary energy. The majority of Vermont’s renewable energy consumption (around 65%) comes from an electric power supply that includes large amounts of hydropower (22% of source electricity) as well as a significant amount of generation from biomass (20%) and wind (4%) resources. The remaining 35% of renewable energy consumption in Vermont is composed mostly of residential use of wood for home heating, and ethanol blended into gasoline. Vermont’s electric power supply is currently around 50% renewable. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in 2015, solar power produced 5.5% of Vermont’s net electricity generation and about 2% of all electricity sold in the state. Nearly half of that solar generation came from distributed facilities smaller than 1 megawatt. At the end of 2015, Vermont had about 95 megawatts of distributed solar capacity installed at nearly 5,000 sites and another 100 megawatts in development. Four utility-scale wind farms contributed 15% of Vermont’s net electricity generation and 6% of the electricity consumed in the state in 2015.
In order to meet the goal of 90% renewable sourced energy by 2050, Vermont will need to look increasingly to electricity and biofuels. To meet the goals, electricity consumption in 2050 would make up more than 45% of total end use across all sectors, and biofuels would make up more than one-third of total end use. By the year 2025, Vermont’s electric power supply is expected to be around 67% renewable.