Forming and Supporting Energy Committees

VNRC founded the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) in 2005. VECAN is a collaborative of statewide and member-based organizations whose goal is to start and strengthen town energy committees, supporting their grassroots efforts to implement energy innovation projects in their communities. As of 2019, VECAN supports 120 energy committees across Vermont.

As the coordinator of VECAN, VNRC offers networking, communications, capacity building, and direct technical assistance to support local groups. This includes providing turnkey resources, like model solar contracts, that energy committees can use to move projects forward more easily. VECAN also connects local leaders to each other and to potential partners, fostering collaboration among neighboring town energy committees, by hosting regional events and gatherings across the state. VECAN’s annual Community Energy and Climate Action Conference celebrates and builds the collective power of people working at the local level to do what they can to transform Vermont’s energy system to one that is more affordable, clean, and accessible.

Since its inception, VECAN ensures that energy committees have a chance to inform state policy by communicating their successes, perspectives, and priorities. Each year, VNRC organizes a legislative lobby day for energy committee leaders. Past participants have testified before the House and Senate Natural Resource and Energy Committees, met with the Legislature’s “Climate Caucus,” and more.

With VECAN’s help, town energy committees have…

  • Gone door-to-door to help people weatherize their homes and save money
  • Saved thousands of dollars by removing and replacing inefficient street lighting
  • Hired a municipal energy coordinator as part of its town staff, an expert who saved Hartford, VT enough money in less than eight months to cover the cost of his first year’s salary
  • Deployed solar projects in schools and businesses
  • Installed heat pumps
  • Expanded transportation
  • And so much more

Senator Bernie Sanders is a believer in town energy committees, too. “Active energy committees are making our communities more energy efficient, educating Vermonters about climate change, and engaging in climate advocacy. Their efforts are saving taxpayer money on municipal energy bills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and creating many local jobs in Vermont,” he said. “I commend all of the Vermonters involved in these grassroots efforts, as well as organizations like VECAN and VNRC that are helping us move toward a clean energy future,” he added.

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Our Victories

Girl drinking water

Removing Lead Fixtures from Schools

State house in fall with people on lawn

Furthering Environmental Justice

Advancing the Global Warming Solutions Act

Removing Derelict Dams

Supporting and Strengthening Act 250

VNRC has been very effective in creating change in this area.

Fighting PFAS and Toxic Contamination

Protecting the Land and Views at Exit 4

Guiding Municipalities to Implement Act 171

Protecting the LaPlatte River Marsh Wetlands

Ensuring Clean Streams at Jay Peak

Promoting Statewide Dam Safety

Preserving Downtown Bennington

Convening the Forest Roundtable

Creating Statewide Precedent on Biomass Electricity

Protecting Black Bear Habitat at Parker’s Gore

Securing Clean Water Funding

Maintaining Current Use

Banning Billboards

Declaring Groundwater as a Public Trust