VNRC Statement on Advancement of the Energy Efficiency & Affordability Act

VNRC Statement on Advancement of the Energy Efficiency & Affordability Act

Friday, February 8, 2008

Over the last couple of days, the two House committees charged with considering a bill that would expand thermal efficiency and renewable energy opportunities for Vermonters successfully passed those bills out of committee. Within days, its expected that the full House of Representatives will vote on S.209 on the Chamber floor.

The Vermont Natural Resources Council has long-supported legislative efforts that would help Vermonters save money, save energy, expand renewable energy supplies in the state and, as a result, begin to address global warming.

S.209 is a step forward in that it creates opportunities for expanded weatherization and fuel savings programs. Unfortunately, the current version fails to seize on the most promising opportunity to achieve savings: Expanding the mandate of Vermont’s internationally acclaimed efficiency utility to include all fuels.

Single or reduced points of entry for Vermont homeowners seeking to tap into energy saving services, programs and expertise offer the best prospects for accomplishing efficiency goals. Last year, the House and the Senate handily passed legislation that would make that possible by expanding the mandate of Vermont’s electric efficiency utility — Efficiency Vermont — to include heating fuels.

Putting electric and thermal efficiency programs under the coordinating umbrella of Efficiency Vermont makes sense — and will save money.

S.209 currently allows for innumerable weatherization and efficiency providers. That means, instead of Vermonters calling a familiar resource, like Efficiency Vermont, they could find themselves scrambling to find the services they need. Such dispersed and uncoordinated services are, ironically, inefficient. That’s cumbersome for customers. It also adds unnecessary costs, when a one-stop-shopping locale like Efficiency Vermont could more efficiently connect consumers with the experts and contractors they need.

Vermont should not fail to seize on a significant savings and efficiency opportunity. Fixing this troubling shortcoming, along with streamlining some of the complex implementation processes now outlined in the bill, are important steps the Legislature must take to strengthen this important bill.