VLITE has outlined a comprehensive agenda that addresses the energy needs of low income Vermonters and strategically addresses the advancement of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan. VLITE has created partnerships with CDF Office of Economic Opportunity and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation to advance six efficiency and conservation programs amounting to $775,000, which directly benefit low income Vermonters. Both organizations have graciously offered their time and expertise at their cost to advance these very valuable programs.
Concurrently, VLITE is also developing and implementing additional partnerships with key stakeholders in Vermont and the Northeast region to advance and implement Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan.
Renewable energy, efficiency and conservation play an important role in the nexus of energy issues of ALL Vermonter’s. The health of the state’s residents and their environment remain as the board’s prime concern and VLITE will continue to implement a balanced approach for administering funding.
VLITE’s goal (leverage its resources to Vermont’s best advantage):
“Leverage is the ability to use something small to control something big.” The ability to influence a system, or an environment, in a way that multiplies the outcome of one’s efforts without a corresponding increase in the consumption of resources. In other words, leverage is the advantageous condition of having a relatively small amount of cost yield a relatively high level of returns.
Enclosed is a summary of VLITE program investments in 2013:
These projects were vetted as “important contributions to Vermonters” in meetings with Vermont electric utilities, energy non profits, business groups, Legislators, Office of Economic Development in the Agency of Human Services and other key stakeholders.
1.Solar furnaces: Efficiency/ Technology ($125,000)
This technology allows lower income households to utilize renewable energy without long-term maintenance liabilities or high first costs. The panels mount on a southern facing wall of a house or mobile home. Winter sun is captured behind a glass panel and absorbed onto a corrugated metal heat exchange surface. The solar radiation is then draw into the home by a small photovoltaic-powered fan that pulls indoor air from near the floor of a room into the panel, across the heat exchange plate, and then circulates warm air in the room. Because Vermont’s coldest winter days tend to occur during high pressure and cloudless skies, a solar furnace mounted vertically on an exterior wall absorbs both direct sunlight and solar energy that bounces off snow-covered ground. Energy modeling suggests that the panel displace between $300 and $500 worth of oil or kerosene depending on orientation and local weather conditions. The typical installed cost during the SERC program was $2,500. More Information
2. Vermont Fuel Efficiency Partnership (VFEP): Efficiency/ Conservation ($165,000)
VFEP is a statewide program offering deep energy retrofit services to owners of affordable multifamily buildings. VFEP started in 2009 using Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, and in 2010 also received ARRA stimulus funding through an Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant (both contracted through the Dept of Public Service). These contracts have sunset. Currently funding is through Efficiency Vermont’s Heating & Process Fuels program, which started in 2011. Funding for 2013 is 1/3 of 2012, and less than 20% of 2011.
VFEP coordinates with local Weatherization agencies, housing programs, and Efficiency Vermont, to provide more comprehensive energy improvements than would otherwise be possible. With technical support and guidance, as well as additional incentive funding, VFEP has been able to drive savings to an average of 43%. Through the end of 2012, VFEP helped place in service 185 buildings with over 1500 apartments. The 25-year savings for these properties is estimated to exceed $23.5 million (not including inflation), or $3.44 in savings for every dollar of VFEP program cost.
3. Barriers to Weatherization: New Technology Pilot ($75,000)
Many Vermont households want energy saving weatherization but have issues in the building that prevent work from going forward. These barriers might include antiquated knob and tube electrical wiring, asbestos contaminated vermiculite insulation (over a 100 such homes with vermiculite are waiting to be weatherized), dilapidated or leaking roofs, minor structural deficiencies, or excessive moisture related to seasonal high water tables. Traditional weatherization funding is provided based on cost effectiveness, so many of these non-energy issues fall outside of allowable renovations for weatherization resources. If funding were available to the weatherization providers, many homes that languish on deferral lists could get the repairs they need to allow energy renovations that save nearly a thousand dollars in annual fuel bills.
4. WARMTH Program: Helping Vermonters in need ($100,000)
Several energy companies contribute to the WARMTH program, including Green Mountain Power, Burlington Electric Department, Vermont Gas, Burlington and the state itself. The program was created in 1986, and since that time millions of dollars have been raised and distributed to customers across the state. The grants and funds from the program have been distributed to almost 40,000 families and individuals across the state who were experiencing some type of heating emergency or crisis. In addition, almost 40,000 households across the state received counseling and information that helped them avoid heating crises. The WARMTH program helped almost 3,000 Vermont households last year.
All sorts of people apply and receive aid from the program. Clients come from all walks of life. For example, seniors, working families, and single parents all have applied for and received aid. In addition, people who are having trouble making ends meet and other low income people apply for assistance. And the amount of people who are behind on their heating bills is staggering. This year they are seeing more people with very large heating bills. Many people are still trying to pay off last year’s bills at the same time they are today this year’s heating bill.
5. Weatherization Training Trailer: Outreach/ Education ($20,000)
The Weatherization Training Trailer energy education programs include the Home Energy Makeover trailer and the Weatherization Skill shops. Both of these statewide initiatives demonstrate how homes can be more energy efficient and that there are low-cost measures that handy Vermonters can tackle to save money and improve comfort.
Weatherization Skill shops are designed to give Vermonters a solid understanding of building science and to teach the skills you need to accomplish specific weatherization tasks. Participants will learn the core fundamentals as well as the hands-on techniques needed to begin improving building efficiency on your own home or business.
6. Electric hot water heaters: Efficiency/ Training/ “Pilot” ($90,000)
An electric hot water heater is expensive to purchase and operate. Renting one is also expensive, which many Vermonters do because of the cost of purchase. The heat pump water heaters are a new technology. This new technology proposed may substantially reduce the cost for domestic hot water. Low income renters or homeowners may have no option but to lease the hot water tank. In this program, VLITE will financially assist by: 1) training personnel in the new technology and, 2) “piloting” installation of the pump water heaters. At this juncture, 50 housing units will be rehabilitated. Potentially, resulting in a household savings of $300 to $400 hundred dollars per year in rental and electrical savings – an estimated 50% reduction cost for domestic hot water. The assumption is that 4/5 times the value of the electric heater rental/ ownership may be recouped over the life of appliance. Part of the pilot will include the metrics to confirm this assumption. Personnel to be trained have to be income eligible to participate in this program.
7. ReSOURCE Group: YouthBuild Renewable Energy and Thermal Efficiency Workforce Development Training ($190,000)
In 1991, ReSOURCE opened its doors to create a space where materials could be reused and human dignity could be renewed. ReSOURCE’s mission is to meet community and individual needs through (1) education and job skills training, (2) environmental stewardship, and (3) economic opportunities.
Since 1991, ReSOURCE has trained over 1,000 individuals through ReSOURCE’s three training programs: Apprentice-style, YouthBuild and Work Experience, and given these individuals a chance to learn valuable jobs skills and become gainfully employed. ReSOURCE took over the YouthBuild program in 2004 in Burlington and expanded it to Barre in 2009. Since 2008, YouthBuild has focused its construction training on advanced green construction techniques, weatherization, and solar installation. ReSOURCE or its construction staff are BPI certified, REV certified, and PACT certified instructors. YouthBuild is a 10-month program serving 16- to 24-year-old men and women who have dropped out of high school and need comprehensive development and job training. Youth are trained in construction skills while building affordable housing and learning energy efficiency skills through weatherization and solar installations. Under Vermont’s Act 176 Alternative Education Act, high school drop-outs are able to pursue their high school diploma with a state-approved Alternative Education Provider. YouthBuild, together with its qualifying students and local school districts, develop Individual Graduation Plans aligned with the YouthBuild educational competencies, which allows students to achieve their high school diploma.
8. Drive Electric Vermont ($130,000)
Drive Electric Vermont (DEV) is a stakeholder group focused on reducing barriers and increasing the pace and reach of electric vehicle deployment. We aim to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles (EV) registered in Vermont to meet the goals of the Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). Low income populations are disproportionally affected by our current fossil fuel based transportation system. They suffer higher rates of asthma and heart disease caused from the noise and emissions from internal combustion engines. Low income populations in also spend disproportionally high amounts of their income on transportation. By increasing the number of electric vehicles registered in Vermont we will reduce the negative environmental impacts on low income populations who live adjacent to major transportation infrastructure and as these vehicles eventually enter the used vehicle market they will reduce the economic cost for all who drive one. In addition, as stated above, increasing electric vehicle registrations is required to meet the goals of the CEP.
9. Thermal Energy Efficiency Funding ($150,000)
To provide credit enhancement(s) (interest rate buy-down, loan loss reserve, or loan guarantee) via a competitive solicitation of financial institutions to facilitate the installation of thermal energy efficiency (EE) improvements and\or thermal renewable energy systems (RE). This credit enhancement program will allow lower income Vermonters who would not typically qualify for an energy loan, or couldn’t afford to take on debt for an EE\RE project, to do so. This is supportive of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan via the Plan’s second leverage point (Finance and Funding) and its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy goals. The creation of the program will be led by the Public Service Dept. (PSD) and the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF), but the program implementation will be done by a sub grantee selected via competitive bid. That selected financial institution (possibly more than one) will work with the other partners to offer a standardized financing product to customers whose fuel dealer participates in the Efficiency Excellence Network.
10. The Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School ($40,000)
Energy costs in Vermont have traditionally been described in terms of prices (such as 12 cents per kWh); a description that diverts attention from more significant factor of size of bills (such as $120 per month). The Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School project will gather and analyze the data necessary to understand changes in Vermont’s business and residential energy bills over time; both in terms of absolute size and as a share of business or residential income. It will also set forth proposals for reducing such costs in the future. This project will provide vocabulary and data and concepts that allow stakeholders to measure, analyze and predict more and less successful energy policies for Vermont, shifting the focus from “rates” to “bills” and from” prices” to “burdens.” By doing so, it will focus attention (and potential progress) on what matters most both for low-income users and for ”the general good” of our state.