Climate Change Mitigation: Supporting the transition to clean energy, energy efficiency and emissions reduction
- Electric Vehicles
- Governor Scott proposed, and Administration established, an EV purchasing incentive program in late 2019 with $2 million available to help low and moderate income Vermonters purchse an electric vehicle. An additional $1 million was proposed and is expected for FY21.
- Updated Multi-state ZEV Action Plan - The goals of these plans are to propel the rapid adoption of the cleanest passenger cars on the road, including battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. Vermont has committed to coordinated action to support the successful implementation of state ZEV programs.
Proposed and passed $500,000 in funding to expand the State’s fleet of EVs.
Proposed a tax holiday on EVs and energy efficient products [not passed by the Legislature]
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
- Charging station build out – With $2.8 million in Volkswagen (VW) mitigation funds; $500,000 in State funds, and $750,000 in funding authorized in the State’s Capital Program, the Administration is poised to invest about $4 million to expand our EV charging infrastructure. We’re adding 85 level 2 electrical vehicle charging stations and 16 electrical vehicle fast charge stations. Every Vermonter will be within 30 miles of a fast charge station, with construction beginning in Spring 2021. Click here to lead the latest report on this effort.
- Electric Vehicles – Buses
- Electric Transit Bus Investments - Vermont has been awarded funds from the Federal Transit Administration and VW Settlement competitive programs, which have resulted in approximately $9.5 million in electric bus investments for the deployment of 14 e-buses across the state. Two of those 14 e-buses are already in service.
- Electric Transit Bus Financing - VTrans is working with Public Service and the state’s utilities to evaluate the viability of a revolving loan fund to implement Tier III utility investments into additional e-bus deployment.
- Electric Transit Bus Planning - VTrans will soon begin work on the creation of a comprehensive electrification plan for the state’s transit fleet.
- Electric Transit and School Bus Pilot – The State has allocated $4M of VW settlement funds to a pilot program for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of electric school and transit bus operation in Vermont.
- Energy Efficiency – Homes & Businesses
- Energy Savings Account Pilot - Incentivized Vermont companies unable to access Efficiency Vermont programing to conduct more than $2 million of energy efficiency projects a year during a three year pilot.
- Weatherization and Efficiency - The Governor, through the Department of Housing and Community Development, has directed more than $13.2 million in new energy efficient housing and energy efficiency improvements to existing housing stock. Almost 800 homes have benefitted from these energy efficiency improvements, serving low- and moderate-income Vermonters.
- For the last 3 years, the Governor has also proposed an additional $1 million dollars for the Vermont Housing Improvement Program, a public private partnership that would invest in weatherization, energy efficiency and life safety code improvements for more than 150 vacant and abandoned homes that could serve Vermonters in need of affordable housing. [Not passed by Legislature in FY19 or FY20; pending one-time investment through CRF federal dollars for FY21]
- The Administration implemented and funded a new initiative through which DEC has provided $300,000 for wood stove change-outs to reduce emissions for older, higher emitting wood stoves.
- Clean Energy Affordability
- Performance-Based Regulation Supporting Clean Energy - Vermont has established substantially modified form of performance-based regulation over its largest energy utilities in Vermont in ways that are serving to foster innovations in clean energy deployment program and pilots. Vermont’s largest electric utility is offering innovations in customer service that foster the deployment of storage, heat pumps, and electric vehicles through innovative pilots. The form of regulation itself is designed to strengthen the decoupling of utility incentives for growth in sales from revenues and profits in order to address inherent misaligned incentives.
- Rate Design – Through the Department of Public Service and with the support of the federal Department of Energy, the Administration recently concluded the Vermont Rate Design Initiative to establish a broader utility and public support and consensus for advanced forms of load management and rate designs needed to foster low-carbon technologies, customer-sited renewable generation, and energy storage to further renewable energy, environmental objectives while minimizing ratepayer challenges from electrification and power sector transformation over the long term.
- Rate Design - Ongoing support for advanced rates and innovative programs before the Public Utility Commission that make operating electric vehicle, storage, and heat pumps more affordable and advance clean energy objectives. Innovative rates and programs currently exist for storage and EVs with two of Vermont’s largest power companies.
- Energy Efficiency Program Advocacy - Advocating before the Public Utility Commission to require energy efficiency utilities to achieve greater electric and natural gas savings under their demand resources plans.
Spurring Innovation, Accelerating the Market & Supporting the Climate Economy
- Clean Grid Modernization Proposal (not implemented) - Proposed a comprehensive $3.15 million Clean Grid Modernization Growth Incentive package to accelerate battery storage and related company growth in Vermont. Included $2 million seed capital fund for clean grid businesses, $250,000 clean grid pilot, $900,000 in tax incentives for clean grid modernization businesses.
- Signed onto MHD ZEV MOU - In December of 2019, Vermont, in coordination with 7 other states and the District of Columbia, announced the formation of a multi-state coalition to accelerate the electrification of the medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicle sector. An MOU was signed in July 2020 with signatory states agreeing to work together to foster a self-sustaining market for zero emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The goal of this MOU is for 30% of new truck and bus sales to be zero emission by 2030, and 100% in 2050.
- Funding for Thermal and Transportation Initiatives – Building off a proposal the Administration put to the PUC in 2019, the Legislature has pursued – with the Administration’s support - S.337, which allocates $2 million per year for greenhouse gas reduction activities in the underserved thermal and transportation sectors for 2021-2023.
Responsible regulation and development
- Energy Storage – Conducted investigatory work and issued two reports with recommendations for statutory and regulatory reform to safely interconnect and then optimize the use of storage resources, such as batteries, including to maximize renewable integration, reduce demand peaks and associated emissions, and enhance resilience.
- Preserving vital emissions standards - Vermont has joined other states in legal actions to oppose the federal administration’s efforts to roll back vehicle fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards.
- Regulatory reform to scale greater investment in EV charging stations -- Modernized its public utility laws to enable charging stations to sell electricity by the kWh without having to be public utilities or to obtain a certificate of public good.
- Residential and Commercial Energy codes: The Public Service Department (PSD) has recently updated the Vermont Residential and Commercial Building Energy Standards. The 2020 standards became effective September 1, 2020. The 2020 RBES include the following: improved insulation levels; improved window U-values; blower door testing required; EV charging infrastructure required for multifamily buildings of 10 or more units and encouraged for all buildings; Solar ready design encouraged; more high efficiency lighting; and more efficient ventilation fans. The 2020 RBES Stretch code includes solar ready requirements and EV charging infrastructure required for single family housing and multifamily buildings of 10 or more units. The 2020 Commercial Building Energy Standards (CBES) is based on the 2018 IECC and the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016 and also includes Vermont specific additions such as more stringent envelope, mechanical, and lighting requirements as well as solar and electric vehicle infrastructure requirements.
- RGGI 2017 Program Review
- Set the regional emissions cap for 2021 at 75 million tons, declining by 2.275 million tons per year through 2030;
- Instituted a third bank adjustment similar to the first and second control period adjustments. The third bank adjustment will apply to budgets for 2021-2025;
- Set the CCR trigger price to $13 in 2021 and a 7% rate of increase per year;
- Created an Emissions Containment Reserve (ECR) which is a number of allowances that are withheld from an auction if the clearing prices does not reach a certain threshold ($6 in 2021, increasing at 7% a year); and
- Eliminated the offset project categories for sulfur hexafluoride and end-use energy efficiency.
- Downtown development – walkable downtowns and compact development
- The Governor has proposed a $1.4 million annual increase (FY21 pending in the Legislature) to the Downtown & Village Center Tax Credit Program, bringing this proven carbon reducing incentive to over $4 million a year and leveraging another $68 million. These incentives, which target development in downtowns, growth centers and villages, increase energy efficiency in historic properties and are proven to support location efficiency which reduces car trips, enables better public transportation, saves Vermonter’s money on transportation expenses, increases walking/biking and reduces carbon emission.
- Act 250 Modernization - Proposed Act 250 modernization to exempt designated downtowns and neighborhoods from Act 250 jurisdiction to facilitate smart growth and reduce carbon emissions. [Pending in the Legislature but not included in the current version of their bill]
Partnerships & Collaboration to Combat Climate Change
- Joined the U.S. Climate Alliance to demonstrate continued support of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Created, through Executive Order, the Vermont Climate Action Commission to recommend actions to reduce emissions.
- Worked with regional partners to update the light duty Zero Emission Vehicle Action Plan, and signed a new, multi-state medium and heavy duty Zero Emissions Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, to further the electrification of the transportation sector.
- Joined the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition, through which the state is helping track progress toward our emissions goals and encouraging those in Vermont to participate.
Protecting and Improving our Waterways
- Fully funded clean water initiatives for FY18 and FY19 at the level recommended by the Treasurer in her January 2017 report. This investment represented a full 70% increase in clean water funding over FY16 and 17 levels.
- Worked with the Legislature to establish permanent sources of funding, consistent with the level recommended by the Treasurer in her January 2017 report, using existing revenues for a total of about $50 million annually. Projects eligible for this funding include:
- Municipal wastewater and stormwater infrastructure;
- ANR Grants for developed lands, local roads, and natural resources projects;
- VTrans Grants for Municipal roads;
- VTrans Budget for State highways stormwater compliance;
- The Agency of Agriculture (AAFM) Grants and contracts for agriculture;
- VHCB wetlands and farming easements and agricultural water quality improvements;
- ACCD grants, in partnership with ANR and VTrans, to incorporate stormwater controls in downtown transportation improvements; and
- Incentive payments to municipalities to establish stormwater utilities to locally fund municipal stormwater controls.
- Proposed and passed the creation of a network of clean water districts to directly deliver technical and financial assistance for natural resources restoration, prioritizing projects with the greatest local impact.
- In cooperation with Senator Leahy’s Office, in FY20 and FY21, the State secured an additional $6 million in federal funds to restore Lake Champlain through agriculture, stormwater and wastewater phosphorus controls, and through natural resources restoration.
- Launched the "Phosphorous Innovation Challenge,” a reverse-pitch competition to support the creation of commercial operations to capture excess phosphorous from manure before it is applied to land and convert it to a scalable product. Through this approach, we have the opportunity for a solution that addresses our phosphorus imbalance in an innovative manner.
- This project is currently in Stage Three, with five organizations receiving funding to support at-scale implementation.