In Middlebury, residents of one neighborhood went door to door to promote free visits by home energy experts. In Randolph, volunteers have banded together to strengthen the downtown business district. In Swanton, Efficiency Vermont is working closely with the town to deliver services directly to homes and businesses — and in Marshfield and Plainfield, locals are promoting walking, biking, and other options for energy-efficient transportation.
These initiatives are among the first outcomes of the Climate Economy Model Communities Program. Coordinated by the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), the program launched in early 2017 after securing a substantial, three-year funding commitment from VLITE. The project has global goals with a local focus: help make it possible for selected Vermont communities to strengthen their economies in ways that also reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
“Vermont can take the lead in modeling economic solutions to climate change,” VCRD declares on its website. “The Vermont Climate Economy Initiative is designed to make the state a destination for entrepreneurs who want to be at the center of the climate change movement.” The VLITE funding was critical to the program’s startup: it provided stable long-term support, and helped the Council on Rural Development secure financial commitments from several foundations. Continue reading Helping Communities Build Climate-Positive Economies
VLITE support has produced a strong working partnership for Lyndon State College to work with the Vermont Electric Power Company and IBM’s Deep Thunder project. This support has allowed Lyndon’s Atmospheric Sciences Department to conduct applied research to better understand how adverse weather affects Vermont’s electric infrastructure. These activities will engage our students in real-world experiential learning, and position the Vermont Institute of Applied Meteorology at Lyndon State College to become a regional leader in applied cutting-edge weather forecasting research.
Transportation is the single largest energy use sector in Vermont, accounting for 34% of the state’s energy consumption and creating 46% of our greenhouse gas emissions. The Vermont Comprehensive Energy plan calls for shifting to 90% renewable energy across all sectors by 2050, with transportation playing a critical role. Electric vehicles (EVs) are a cost-effective strategy to achieve the State’s renewable energy goals for transportation, and Vermont is a leader in promoting EV adoption. VLITE has supported the Drive Electric Vermont program in marketing and promoting plug-in vehicles, including funding for a pilot incentive program. Vermonters receive the incentive by visiting one of 11 participating dealers across the state to receive $500 off the purchase or lease of a new EV, with the dealerships also receive a $200 upstream incentive for each EV sold to support their work transforming the new vehicle marketplace. Further consumer savings will accrue with lower costs of ownership for plug-in vehicles. This program has motivated consumers and auto dealerships to consider plug-in vehicle options in the car buying process. The expanded use of EVs supports economic vitality, energy efficiency, and air quality improvements which benefit all Vermonters.