Since 2015, Vermont has received $11.6 million from the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and $3.4 million from the State Energy Program (SEP), resulting in the following benefits:
States report outcomes of State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program formula (annual) fund activities to DOE on a quarterly basis. The metrics above are outcomes of formula-funded activities since 2015.
The SCEP Project Map highlights the annual formula, competitive, and BIL funding for WAP and SEP. At this time, funding amounts for SEP do not yet incorporate full funding amounts allocated by BIL, which will be distributed in 2023.
Vermont's State Energy Program at Work
Building Energy Labeling
In 2019 the Vermont General Assembly required the Department of Public Service to reconvene the Residential and Commercial Building Energy Labeling Working Groups to discuss and make recommendations on the following items:
- Requirements for home energy assessors, including any endorsements, licensure, and bonding required.
- Programs to train home energy assessors.
- Requirements for reporting building energy performance scores given by home energy assessors and the establishment of a system for maintaining such information.
- Requirements to standardize the information on a home energy label; and other matters related to benchmarking, energy rating, or energy labels for residential, commercial, and multi-unit buildings.
- The appropriateness and viability of publicly disclosing the results of benchmarking as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 61.
- The impact of benchmarking, energy labeling, and energy rating, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 61, upon the housing market and the real estate industry in Vermont.
A final report with recommendations was submitted to the Vermont General Assembly on Jan. 15, 2021, and is available on the State of Vermont website.
Expansion of Vermont's State Energy Management Program
To drive deeper, more cost-effective energy upgrades, Vermont is adapting the successful energy savings performance contracting (ESPC) model used for buildings in the State Energy Management Program (SEMP) to public educational and municipally owned buildings. A new pilot initiated in 2021 will draw from recent ESPC work conducted in Vermont and harness the core competencies of the Department of Public Service, Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS), and Efficiency Vermont.
Many Vermont public entities (e.g., municipalities, state colleges, etc.) maintain old buildings that are costly to operate. Previous municipal energy projects have achieved savings through piecemeal solutions (e.g., LED lighting) that left many energy-consuming activities unimproved. More holistic municipal energy efficiency projects are typically completed by larger jurisdictions via energy service companies (ESCOs) on projects valued at $1 million or more. But the ESCOs that conduct such projects remain largely uninterested in the scale and unique nature of many of Vermont's smaller facilities, leaving a gap to be filled. BGS, which has experience with ESCOs on its own buildings, developed and achieved success with the SEMP as an alternative self-managed ESCO model. The SEMP model is adaptable to municipalities and/or state buildings not overseen by BGS (e.g., state colleges).
The intent of the pilot is to design a highly effective service that relieves facility owners from many complicated and time-consuming activities associated with municipal energy improvement projects. A key part of the pilot will be determining optimal finance and funding options to support the program into the future, eventually allowing a self-sustaining program to serve all institutions that seek assistance.
As Vermont lacks an ESCO service for the small municipal market, the pilot team will also research how other states have approached the development of energy savings performance contracting services for various underserved government markets, including but not limited to municipalities.
Driving Commercial Business Energy Efficiency & Energy Services through Electric Rate Design
Small-to-medium size commercial facilities throughout Vermont represent a largely untapped opportunity for cost savings through energy efficiency and energy management. However, current rate structures can discourage many projects. The state is exploring new pathways to encourage the development and delivery of energy efficiency services beyond traditional utility-delivered energy efficiency programs through a multi-stakeholder Rate Design Initiative funded by SEP.
Electric utility rates and related incentives represent an underutilized path, which is enabled by new information technologies. These include utility advanced metering infrastructure; wireless measurement and control devices; and backend demand response, data management, and monitoring devices for utilities, aggregators, and other third parties. Entities that rely on savings performance guarantees include traditional ESCOs. But third-party aggregators and renewable service providers (especially, solar providers) can also offer such guarantees for their customers, helping to foster additional pathways to deliver value to customers.
Convened in 2019, the first phase of this initiative explored these options and how implementation would benefit commercial ratepayers in the state. The key implementation hurdle is to assure value to the utility and its ratepayers. Proper uniform rate design is a barrier, and the specialized expertise of outside consultants provided insights to help the stakeholders chart this new course.
Through the first half of 2020, the department convened a series of in-person and virtual workshops and meetings that culminated with a final report and recommendations. The department worked in 2021 with stakeholders and the utilities—especially our largest investor-owned utility—to follow up on recommendations and identify new opportunities to implement the findings from the first phase. To support second phase implementation, the department plans to provide $100,000 of SEP funds for grants to municipal and cooperative electric distribution utilities (or their agents) for technical assistance, consultant expertise, staff time, and/or pilot project development and implementation. Pursuant to Act 13 of 2021, this phase will focus on projects that:
- Support innovative rates and related pilot projects.
- Align rates and financial incentives with flexible grid resources.
- Support public and/or private capital investment through new rates or pilot programs.
PSD anticipates that projects will be underway by the end of 2022, with monitoring of results ongoing.
Learn more about SEP competitively awarded projects.
Vermont's Weatherization Assistance Program at Work
The Vermont Department for Children and Families is the managing agency of Vermont’s Weatherization Assistance Program.
Between 2010 and 2021, Vermont weatherized an average of 176 homes per year with formula funds.
Vermont Takes Initiative
Better Buildings Initiative
More than 900 organizations are involved in the Better Buildings Initiative working to reduce energy and water waste and modernize the nation's buildings and industrial facilities. Download the 2022 Better Buildings Progress Report for more information on the Initiative as a whole.
Better Buildings Accelerators
In the past five years, WIP has engaged nearly 100 partners in Better Buildings Accelerators. These Accelerators are designed to demonstrate specific innovative policies and approaches, which will accelerate investment in energy efficiency upon successful demonstration. Each Accelerator is a targeted, short-term, partner-focused activity designed to address persistent barriers that stand in the way of greater efficiency.
To learn more about other Better Buildings partners and solutions in Vermont and other states involved in the Better Buildings Initiative, check out the Better Buildings Partner map.
Sustainable Wastewater of the Future (SWIFt) Initiative
The cities of Burlington and South Burlington committed to improving the energy efficiency of their participating water resource recovery facilities as part of the Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure of the Future (SWIFt) Initiative Phase 2. SWIFt Phase 2 is engaging wastewater treatment facilities in a voluntarily partnership to achieve 5% short-term and 25% long-term facility-wide energy savings and implement at least one next-generation technology (e.g., renewable energy, resource recovery, and advanced data management). SWIFt Phase 1 hosted 25 state, regional, and local agencies that engaged with more than 70 water resource recovery facilities in their jurisdictions and successfully reduced their total energy consumption by almost 7%, adopted best-practice energy management approaches now showcased in the Wastewater Energy Management Toolkit, and created plans to achieve 30% energy savings.