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Vermont Gas expanding efficiency program

VERGENNES — Vermont Gas on Tuesday announced plans to expand its award-winning energy-efficiency program to any potential customer located along a Vermont Gas service line, regardless of what fuel they are currently using for heat.
The company, which is currently proposing separate pipeline expansion projects into Addison County and to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y., made its announcement at the Strong House Inn in Vergennes. The Little City is one of the Addison County communities to which Vermont Gas wants to extend natural gas service.
All homes and businesses located along Vermont Gas’s distribution pipelines — whether heated with natural gas, oil, wood or propane — would be eligible under the proposal. Additionally, the program would prioritize efficiency services and conversion for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) customers and households eligible for Vermont Gas’s low-income rate.
Vermont Gas officials said their energy-efficiency programs currently reduce energy use while saving $13 million annually for current customers, but that figure would be significantly expanded if the all-fuels plan is approved, according to company spokesman Steve Wark.
“We are excited to expand our energy efficiency program to help more Vermonters reduce their home heating fuel use.” said Don Gilbert, president and CEO of Vermont Gas, in a press release. “Homeowners and businesses on our existing service line or approved service line extensions will be able to take advantage of our energy audits, thermal insulation and heating system conversion or upgrades — even if they are not currently Vermont Gas customers. Natural gas combined with energy efficiency is a powerful combination that will help Vermonters cut their heating bills by almost half and reduce emissions by up to 23 percent.”
State Sen. Christopher Bray, D-New Haven, participated in Tuesday’s announcement. A few months ago, Bray asked the governor’s office, the Department of Public Service and Vermont Gas to join him in a discussion about how to leverage and expand the economic and environmental advantages of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project across the proposed service territory.
“Many Vermont homeowners and small-businesses are still struggling in this economy, so when Vermont Gas started talking about the advantages — lower prices, reduced emissions, great energy-efficiency programs, we started talking about how we could expand the program and deliver an even broader public benefit,” Bray said. “This is a great example, Vermont style, of business and community leaders coming together to forge a solution that helps everyone.”
Vermont Gas has applied to the Vermont Public Service Board for a certificates of public good for the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project in its goal to eventually to expand service to Rutland.
Vermont Gas serves almost 50,000 customers in Franklin and Chittenden counties and is working to expand service into Addison and Rutland counties through the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project.

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