Efficiency Vermont announces 6-year plan

BURLINGTON — Follow– ing a six-month process to gather input from more than 30 customers, partners, and stakeholders, Efficiency Vermont recently proposed to its regulators a six-year plan for delivering energy efficiency to Vermonters. The proposed Demand Resources Plan (DRP) includes new performance targets that would focus more of the energy efficiency utility’s resources toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding weatherization support, and partnering with electric utilities to optimize grid efficiency. 
The proposed plan maintains Efficiency Vermont’s primary goals of reducing overall electricity and heating fuel use, as required by Vermont statute. The proposal is based on analysis of future energy efficiency opportunities and customer needs, as well as an extensive stakeholder input process. 
“This proposal will enable Efficiency Vermont to focus more resources on reducing the climate impact of our energy use, making energy more affordable, and making our homes and businesses more comfortable,” said Efficiency Vermont Director Rebecca Foster. “This plan maintains the foundation of our services for Vermonters — reducing electric and thermal energy use — while responding to the changing needs of our customers and partners.” 
As part of its plan to reduce greenhouse gases and improve efficiency, Efficiency Vermont proposes to substantially expand its refrigeration management services. The refrigerants most commonly used by businesses to keep food fresh and heat and cool buildings can be several thousand times more harmful than carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere. Refrigerant leakage not only has negative climate impacts, but also reduces the efficiency of refrigeration systems. 
Expanded refrigeration management services is an example of how a greenhouse gas reduction goal can work hand-in-hand with Efficiency Vermont’s existing electricity and heating reduction goals to drive further savings for customers and cost-effectively contribute to the state’s climate goals. Efficiency Vermont estimates the initiatives in the proposal, including refrigeration management services, would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 188,000 metric tons — equal to removing more than 40,000 cars from the road. 
Efficiency Vermont is also proposing to help 4,500 Vermonters weatherize their homes during the 2021-2023 timeframe. Efforts will focus on serving moderate-income Vermonters, whose home heating costs make up a high proportion of their household budgets. Without access to assistance from weatherization agencies that support low-income customers, moderate-income families are often unable to afford the upfront cost of weatherization projects. Efficiency Vermont proposes to continue offering enhanced incentives to ensure moderate-income customers have access to weatherization services. 
Another part of Efficiency Vermont’s proposal would establish a new target focused on developing “flexible load.” Efficiency Vermont proposes to expand on current pilots with electric utilities to deploy control technologies that help customers manage when they use electricity. Better controlling electricity use can help avoid usage during periods of high system demand and make better use of renewable electricity supply. Several utilities expressed an interest in partnering with Efficiency Vermont to continue these successful collaborations. 
The proposal reflects an extensive stakeholder engagement process, which included interviews with more than 30 large business customers, economic development organizations, distribution utilities, low-income and environmental advocacy organizations and state government agencies. The stakeholder feedback reaffirmed the value that Efficiency Vermont’s programs provide and identified ways that the energy efficiency utility could be doing even more to help Vermonters save money and reduce emissions.
“The technical support we have received from Efficiency Vermont has been instrumental in helping Hannaford reduce our energy use and lower our operating costs at multiple grocery store locations throughout Vermont,” said Joshua Smith, Manager of Refrigeration/HVAC Services for Hannaford. “We appreciate the opportunity to share our priorities as Efficiency Vermont plans for the coming years. Partnering with Efficiency Vermont on refrigerant management has the potential to help us and many other businesses drive even greater innovation and savings as we work together to combat climate change.” 
Stakeholders expressed support for the work Efficiency Vermont has undertaken to reduce costs and deliver programs more efficiently. In this DRP proposal, Efficiency Vermont is proposing to keep its budget flat compared to the current performance period. This will require the energy efficiency utility to keep costs in check and find new operational efficiencies to absorb inflation over time. If approved, this plan will result in nine years in a row of flat or declining Efficiency Vermont budgets. 

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