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GUEST COLUMN: Charting the future of Efficiency Vermont

By Jim Merriam
Efficiency Vermont was created in the year 2000 to help Vermont homes and businesses reduce their use of electricity. At a larger level, we work in partnership with all of Vermont’s traditional utilities to help reduce strain on the electric system and defer the need for expensive investments in new power plants and transmission lines.
Since its start, Efficiency Vermont has evolved significantly to help meet the changing energy needs and priorities of our customers and Vermont’s energy system. Today, Efficiency Vermont helps to reduce not only the use of electricity, but heating fuels as well. We are even providing incentives for renewable energy systems such as biomass heat and solar hot water.
The benefits of this work to reduce Vermont’s energy usage have been measurable and substantial. In 2013, electricity use in Vermont was 13 percent lower than it would have been. That same year, nearly 1,200 homes were buttoned up to lower their heating costs. According to VELCO, the state’s transmission company, Vermont’s investments in energy efficiency will help to defer $279 million in transmission and electric system upgrades over the next decade.
Those are results to be proud of and they are certainly not Efficiency Vermont’s alone. They are due to the decisions of thousands of Vermont homes and businesses to take steps to reduce their energy use and costs. Our top priority has always been to make those decisions easy and cost-effective—and to ensure that we offer guidance and solutions that will help you meet your long term energy goals.
As we look to the future, this is a good moment to pause and take stock of how Efficiency Vermont works today and how that work needs to evolve as the world around us continues to change. Are we keeping up with the newest technologies? Are we supporting broader state energy goals? Most importantly, are we meeting the needs of all Vermonters, especially those for whom energy costs are a challenging burden?
To help answer those questions and others, Efficiency Vermont is convening a series of community forums across the state. From Lyndonville to Bennington, we will be seeking input from Vermonters about what our priorities for the next three years should be.

If you would like to help shape the future direction of Efficiency Vermont, I invite you to attend a forum, give us a call at 1-888-921-5990 or visit our website www.efficiencyvermont.com/communityforums to learn more and share your perspective.
Efficiency Vermont Community Forum schedule (all forums run 6 – 7:30 p.m. and include a light supper):
Oct. 27: Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans
Oct. 28: Spaulding High School, Barre
Oct.r 29: Lyndon State College, Lyndonville
Nov. 5: Southwest Vermont Career Development Center, Bennington
Nov. 6: Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center, Brattleboro

Jim Merriam is the director of Efficiency Vermont.