Efficiency Vermont

What is Efficiency Vermont?
Efficiency Vermont is the state’s new energy efficiency utility – the first of its kind in the United States. Efficiency Vermont represents an innovative approach to helping Vermonters save energy and protect the environment.

TheVermont Public Service Board (Board) ordered the creation of the energy efficiency utility in response to a request from the Department of Public Service (the Department is the state’s Public Advocate), all of the state’s twenty-two electric utilities, and a dozen consumer and environmental groups. Through Efficiency Vermont, Vermont consumers, businesses, manufacturers, and farmers across the state can participate in the same seven energy- and money-saving programs.

Who is Efficiency Vermont?
The Board selected the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) from a field of six competitors to operate Efficiency Vermont. VEIC, a Burlington-based not-for-profit energy services organization, formed a consortium of partners and subcontractors to work on this effort. Partners include Optimal Energy, Inc. of Bristol, Vermont and Conservation Services Group of Westborough, Massachusetts.

VEIChas designed and implemented energy efficiency programs throughout Vermont, and in more than twenty states and eight countries since 1988. Optimal Energy has 12 years of experience designing and overseeing implementation of energy efficiency programs for residential, business and industrial customers of gas and electric utilities. CSG has 16 years of experience in the design, development, and implementation of energy efficiency programs for utilities throughout the United States, including Vermont.

Why create Efficiency Vermont?
For the last eight years, Vermont’s electric utilities have offered a range of energy efficiency services to their customers. These different and often unconnected programs caused confusion among customers and product vendors, limited some customers’ access to service, and increased the cost of delivering energy efficiency. After careful consideration, the Board, Department, utilities, and consumer and environmental groups agreed to develop a consistent, comprehensive, and integrated delivery system. Efficiency Vermont is the result of this effort.

Efficiency Vermont operates independently from the state’s electric utilities and offers energy-saving programs, technical advice and financial incentives throughout Vermont. Efficiency Vermont consolidates and enhances most of the programs previously offered by the state’s electric utilities and provides a more streamlined and coordinated approach to energy efficiency. It is also expected to increase participation in these programs by those who want to reduce their electric bills by improving their energy efficiency.

How are Efficiency Vermont programs funded?
Efficiency Vermont is funded by an "energy efficiency charge" (EEC) that appears on consumers’ electric bills (except in Burlington Electric Department’s service territory). In the past, energy efficiency programs were funded by charges included in electric rates. Each utility negotiated its contribution to the energy efficiency utility based on factors unique to its service territory. For this reason, the size of the EEC varies from one utility to the next. The estimated budget for the first year is about $7.6 million. The charges as a percentage of sales range from 0.18 percent to 2.75 percent.

Does the energy efficiency charge increase our electric bills?
The EEC in and of itself causes little or no increase in monthly electric bills for most Vermont customers. In instances where a utility previously offered few energy efficiency programs to its customers, there is a slight increase in customers’ overall bills. By participating in these money-saving programs, however, these customers have an opportunity to gain greater savings on their electric bills.

Why aren’t Burlington Electric Department (BED) customers funding Efficiency Vermont?
BED is seeking Board approval to offer to its customers energy efficiency programs that are similar to those of Efficiency Vermont. BED customers have funded their energy efficiency programs with a bond passed in the early 1990s. These costs are included in BED’s current electric rates. If BED’s proposal is approved by the Board, it will continue this means of financing its energy efficiency activities.

What programs does Efficiency Vermont offer?
Efficiency Vermont offers money-saving programs to homebuilders and buyers, low-income Vermonters, farmers, and residential, commercial and industrial customers. The programs help these energy consumers capture the greatest energy-saving opportunities available through the installation and use of efficient construction designs, products and equipment. For example, businesses can receive incentives to install high efficiency equipment (such as lighting, motors and HVAC systems). Low-income Vermonters can receive assistance to convert from costly electric heat and hot water systems to lower cost alternatives. Electric consumers can receive instant coupons or mail-in rebates for discounts on energy efficient lighting products and appliances.

Where can I find more information about Efficiency Vermont?

Efficient Vermont Home Page: http://www.efficiencyvermont.org/