Vermont Leads Nation in Solar Jobs Per Capita
Monday, February 27, 2017
Montpelier, VT – A new report by The Solar Foundation cites Vermont as a national leader in the solar industry, ranking third for the number of solar jobs per capita. Between 2015 to 2016, solar jobs in Vermont grew by 29 percent, with an additional 400 solar jobs created in the state last year.
“Each solar job means that a skilled craftsman, a recent college graduate, or an entrepreneur is able earn a stable living to feed their family, support their community, and stay in Vermont,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Renewable Energy Vermont Executive Director. “The clean energy industry continues to stand out as a bright spot in Vermont’s economy, bringing jobs to every corner of the State.
Solar jobs provide living wages, with the national median wage for solar installers at $26.00 per hour, according to the report.
“Vermont’s solar workers are working hard to help their neighbors, farms, schools, and towns achieve energy independence and save money with clean, renewable energy,” said Campbell Andersen. “Vermont’s clean energy policies, particularly net metering, are critically important to ensuring access to electricity cost savings as well as maintaining jobs and growing our economy.”
Visit www.revermont.org/resources/jobs/ for a listing of open positions in Vermont’s clean energy economy. To find a solar installer near you, visit the Vermont Renewable Energy Business Listing at www.revermont.org/vrebl/.
The Solar Foundation’s full report can be viewed online at www.solarjobcensus.org.
Renewable Energy Vermont Honors Sen. Mark MacDonald, Nik Ponzio, VELCO, & Encore Renewable Energy Along with Stowe Electric Dept & Village of Hyde Park at REV2016
Thursday, October 20, 2016
More than 460 Attend Clean Energy Conference
S. Burlington, VT — More than 460 business, community, environmental, and government leaders gathered over 2-days at the 16th Annual Renewable Energy Vermont Conference & Expo held October 13 & 14 in S. Burlington. Recognizing legislative, citizen, and industry champions and innovators for their outstanding contributions toward securing our sustainable energy future, Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) presented the following 2016 Renewable Energy Awards.
“In today’s climate, it’s even more important to recognize our fellow Vermonters who quietly work every day to deliver renewable energy and efficiency value in their communities. These awards show the breadth and scope of who makes energy work here in Vermont – from local companies, towns, large and small utilities, to legislators. Truly, our clean energy transformation needs and takes all of us collaborating together”, said Jeff Forward, Chair of the Renewable Energy Vermont board.
Jim Grundy Award, Nik Ponzio – Named in honor of Jim Grundy, a REV founder, who was an exemplary renewable designer and businessman, beloved husband, family and community member. Jim was known for his integrity of spirit, kindness of soul and ingenuity and craftsmanship in renewable energy technologies, as well as a willingness to personally invest in advancing renewable energy in Vermont. Nik co-founded Building Energy and oversees the solar and heat pump divisions of the company. Nik has been designing and installing solar systems for 15 years. He lives and breathes the full energy independent vision, growing his company to provide comprehensive energy services including efficiency audits and retrofits, solar, and air-source heat pumps for customers. Nik is a Burlington resident. Building Energy has offices in White River Junction and Williston.
“The award is a huge honor because I knew Jim Grundy personally as a role model and early mentor when I first entered the industry 20 years ago. I have also had opportunity to service some of the solar systems he installed and see his workmanship first-hand. He was an excellent technician and took the time to do things right. It is no coincidence that his early systems are still working well several decades later,” said Nik Ponzio. “I strive to live up to the high professional standards that Jim set with his own workmanship, and emulate his dedication to integrity and honesty in all of his interactions with clients, colleagues and competitors alike. At the end of the day, we are all in this together, and as Senator Leahy said here yesterday, “The future of the world hangs in the balance.”
Renewable Energy Legislative Award, State Senator Mark MacDonald – Presented to an elected official who worked to advance Vermont energy policy in the state, is awarded to Senator Mark MacDonald (D-Orange County) serves as a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee, as well as serving on the Joint Energy Committee and the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR). Senator MacDonald’s steady influence helped shape legislative and regulatory outcomes enabling continued climate and renewable energy progress over his 30 years and counting of service in the legislature.
Renewable Energy Industry Champion Award – Encore Renewable Energy, Village of Hyde Park, and Stowe Electric Department – Celebrates a Vermont company that went above and beyond its core mission to increase growth of renewables. This year’s award goes to three entities whose effective collaboration produced exemplary solar projects in record completion time. Encore Renewable Energy has helped several communities and municipal utilities in Vermont achieve energy savings through well sited, community supported solar projects. The partnership of Carol Robertson from the Village of Hyde Park and Ellen Burt from Stowe Electric Department worked tirelessly with Encore on their collaborative solar projects to bring two 1 MW municipally owned solar projects to their respective communities in just under five months.
Renewable Energy Innovation Award, VELCO – Honors a project, company, organization, or individual contributing innovative, influential, and transformative work that implements renewable energy and climate action in Vermont. VELCO is the inaugural recipient of the award for their revolutionary Vermont Weather Analytics Center. The Center is already helping Vermonters’ realize the enhanced value of renewable energy generation in our state and will deliver additional regional benefits such as improving grid resiliency and storm response.
Featuring 120 expert speakers over two days, REV2016 catalyzed solutions-oriented conversation and engagement around achieving Vermont’s 90% total renewable energy (electric, thermal, and transportation) and 80% regional climate pollution reduction goals. Dignitaries in attendance included Senator Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, Governor Peter Shumlin, dozens of state legislators, Québec’s Delegate to New England, state agency leaders, and Gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter. To learn more about the Renewable Energy Awards, the recipients and REV2016: Energy Choices visit, www.revconference.org/.
Photos of the awardees are available upon request.
REV Statement on Final Draft Net Metering Rule
Tuesday, August 20, 2016
Public Service Board Expands some Customers Clean Energy Choices, Protects Existing Solar Customers
“Net metering is a critical tool to help Vermonters reduce their climate impact through renewable energy. Recognizing the tremendous benefits of renewable energy to our climate, environment, and local economy, Vermont’s Public Service Board issued a path forward for electricity customers to choose clean energy through net metering.
Local utility caps have held back some Vermonters from investing in their own energy independence and renewable energy. The new rule eliminates those caps, expanding access for customers who were previously blocked out of net metering. More individual customers will now be able to go solar next year.
Residents within Green Mountain Power’s territory can still access 2016 net metering rates through the end of this year. Folks who wait to go solar until next year will receive slightly lower electric bill credits. Vermonters can visit www.revermont.org/vrebl/ to find a local solar installer.
Under the rule, new residential, commercial, and community solar net-metering customers may still receive electric bill credits slightly above average utility retail rates for projects located on rooftops, brownfields, or previously developed properties. Existing net-metering customers may still receive bill credits to cover new non-bypassable utility fees for a period of 10 years after their systems were installed. Net-metered residential and commercial solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power remain good investments and good deals for Vermonters.
The rule also increases town’s involvement in net-metered renewable energy project permitting and requires renewable energy credits (RECs) to be retired by Vermont utilities to help meet the state’s clean energy goals.
Revisions made by the Public Service Board to improve the final draft rule will aid Vermonters continued climate leadership.”
Vermont Solar and Wind Reduce Summer Peak Costs and Burning of Dirtiest Fossil Fuels
Thursday, August 11, 2016
MONTPELIER, VT—As the region faces high summer temperatures straining power supplies, Vermont utilities are experiencing spikes in electric costs and today issued peak alerts asking customers to reduce energy use. Price stable Vermont wind and solar meanwhile are reducing both peak costs and burning of the direst fossil fuels.
At 3 p.m. Thursday, August 11th, according to ISO New England, peak energy costs spiked to over $2.69 per kWh with increasing reliance on the dirtiest polluting fossil fuels. To put these numbers in perspective, the majority of Vermont residents pay approximately $0.14 to $0.15 per kWh for electricity. That peak price was more than 18 times the rate that the majority of Vermont residents pay for electricity. New England’s power mix, which Vermont utilities rely on for peak power supplies, Thursday afternoon was composed of primarily natural gas (60%), nuclear power (14%), as well as coal and oil (14%, more than 834 MW of coal!).
With sunny skies and south winds, price stable Vermont renewables are reducing electric costs to all customers and the consumption of the dirtiest fossil fuels. Permitted wind generation in Vermont consists of over 156 MW. Additionally, there is more than 262 MW of permitted solar in our state, with our successful net metering program (mostly residential, community, and commercial solar) contributing more than 153 MW to that total. Our local clean energy is electricity that Vermont utilities do not need buy from out of state sources.
“Vermont renewable energy not only provides a strong local economic engine, but on days like today, our in-state wind and solar reduce peak costs and transmission for all customers,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont. “Every kW of clean wind and solar installed means less burning dirty, out of state fossil fuels during energy peaks.”
Vermont currently has the second lowest electric rates in New England and while other states have seen double digit increases in rates, Vermont rates have remained stable. In addition to lowering peak power costs, locally produce renewables reduce line losses through distribution and transmission costs for all consumers.
“As a VEC member with net metered solar that I share with neighbors of my farm, it is nice to know that we are doing our part to lower costs and make our energy grid cleaner, especially during these rough peak times,” Jeff Forward, Richmond resident and Board Chairman of Renewable Energy Vermont.
“Vermonters and several of our utilities have done a great job deploying renewables in our community which keeps our hard earned dollars local and ensures we are doing our part to see a cleaner, more reliable energy supply,” added Campbell Andersen.
A dashboard provided by ISO New England displays real time costs and energy supply is online at: http://www.iso-ne.com/isoexpress/web/charts
New Renewable Energy Business Listing Aims to Help Vermonters Save Money & Reduce Pollution
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
MONTPELIER, VT–Renewable Energy Vermont in partnership with the Renewable Energy Resource Center, a project of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, have launched a new resource for Vermonters looking to install solar photovoltaic panels (PV), solar hot water systems, or modern wood pellet boilers. The project was made possible due to funding from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF). The Vermont Renewable Energy Business Listing (VREBL) located online at www.revermont.org/vrebl/ offers a detailed, one stop listing of experts ready to help homeowners, farmers, and businesses affordably reduce climate pollution and save money with clean energy solutions.
“The new online Renewable Energy Business Listing details more than 70 local businesses offering expert advice and experience in helping Vermont property owners increase their energy independence by installing renewable energy solutions,” stated Ansley Bloomer, Renewable Energy Vermont Assistant Director.
The online tool enables consumers to find a renewable energy installer near them, as well as compare company experience and qualifications. Consumers may search the list by technology type, business location, installation experience, and other credentials.
“With net metering rates set to change starting in 2017, and new incentives for modern wood heat now available, it’s a good time for Vermont homeowners and businesses to consider installing clean energy solutions,” encouraged Bloomer.
The new tool is one of several ways that Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) aims to help consumers make informed choices about their energy future. REV’s website also includes an informed buyer guide – www.revermont.org/resources/how-to-be-an-informed-buyer/ and other resources for electricity consumers.
Installers of solar PV panels, solar hot water and wood pellet boilers who are not already listed may contact REV at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to obtain an application form to join the listing.
150+ Businesses & Institutions Urge Support for Renewable Energy & VT Net-Metering Rule Improvements
Thursday, July 21, 2016
MONTPELIER, VT – More than 150 local businesses and institutions ranging from farms and credit unions, to hotels, main street shops, manufacturers, and solar companies urge support for renewable energy and maintaining Vermont’s strong net metering program. The net metering program is currently in the final stages of being revised by the Public Service Board.
“As businesses and other institutions that support Vermont’s highly popular and successful net metering program, we ask you to reconsider the newly proposed net metering rule that would drastically undermine this bedrock Vermont energy program,” the coalition letter states.
“Many of us are part of the vast renewable energy supply chain in Vermont including manufacturers, contractors, and other value-added businesses who benefit from a robust clean energy industry in Vermont. Many of us are customers of net metering who chose to make the investment in a more renewable, energy independent future for Vermont. And many of us are hosts of solar projects, such as farmers, that benefit from a stable source of revenue…”
The widely supported letter demonstrates the vast and diverse economic engine generated by Vermont’s growing climate economy – particularly the renewable energy sector.
Net metering allows homes, businesses, farms, schools, towns, and other institutions generate their own clean, renewable energy. These customers invest in renewable energy systems, either on-site or remotely, stimulating the Vermont economy, helping build the distributed generation grid of the 21st century, while making our state more energy secure.
“Net metering enabled more than 7,000 customers to achieve greater energy independence, control their energy costs, save money, and reduce climate pollution to date,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Renewable Energy Vermont’s Executive Director. “The letter urging support for continued renewable energy choices and net metering opportunities garnering 150+ businesses and institutions signing on in a week’s time shows the tremendous importance to Vermont’s economy that we get this rule right.”
“We are thankful that the Public Service Board welcomed comments and feedback through many iterations of developing their new net metering program. It’s no small task and the rule’s impacts will be significant,” continued Campbell Andersen. “We hope the Board reconsiders its recent Order and makes final changes that allow for a sustainable, customer-responsive program going forward to avoid market disruptions that have plagued other states and stalled climate progress.”
Net metering in Vermont has helped keep Vermont’s electricity rates among the lowest in the region; reduce climate and air pollution; and make our communities more energy secure and less dependent on out of state dirty fossil fuels. Vermont consistently ranks in the top 3 nationally for solar jobs per capita thanks to net metering; with now nearly one out of every 17 workers employed in the clean energy sector.
The full letter below shows businesses who signed onto the letter.
Public Service Board Chooses Utilities Over Customers; Stalls Climate Action and Renewable Energy Progress
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
MONTPELIER, VT – Environmental, climate, and sustainable business groups joined together this week to express grave concern over proposed changes to net metering, the program that allows Vermonters to choose renewable energy. The diverse organizations are urging the Public Service Board to reconsider its proposed rule as it undermines the State’s commitment to help Vermonter’s increase their self-reliance and decrease dependence on fossil fuels and out of state energy while doing their part to reduce climate pollution.
“Vermonters are aggressively taking action to address our climate change challenges, but monopoly utilities and regulators seem bent on halting progress by taking away our choices, increasing costs, and cutting jobs,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Renewable Energy Vermont Executive Director. “We hope that regulators will reconsider their plans to derail local job creating renewable energy progress in our State.”
Proposed policies including retroactive customer fees, an annual market-disrupting cap, and foreclosure on future affordable community solar projects which represent more than 80% of the current net metering market, threatened to crater this important Vermont-grown sector of our clean energy economy, taking jobs and energy savings elsewhere.
“This rule is bad not just for our environment, but for Vermont consumers as well,” said Ben Edgerly Walsh, Climate and Energy Program Director for VPIRG. “Make no mistake, this rule would dismantle more than a decade of work done to build towards clean energy in Vermont and pulls what amounts to a bait and switch on thousands of current solar customers at the same time.”
“This rule would significantly damage the ability of towns and cities to go solar,” said Johanna Miller, Energy Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council. “It’s the exact opposite direction we need to be going, making it more difficult for municipalities who want to generate clean electricity to do so. The new proposal ignores comments from hundreds of Vermonters who showed up at public hearings to support municipal solar and community solar options for Vermonters who can’t go solar on their own roof or in their own backyard.”
“Vermont has a long legacy of working to achieve a clean and energy independent future for our children and grandchildren, so it’s extremely disappointing to see a net metering rule that would make it significantly more difficult for many towns, farmers, businesses, and families to go solar,” added Lauren Hierl, Political Director, Vermont Conservation Voters.
Vermonters need and want more clean, local, and reliable energy. In May of 2016, hundreds of Vermonters attended the Public Service Board’s two public hearings on the net metering rule revisions and submitted comments supporting community solar and urging the Board to continue a strong net metering program.
“Vermont needs to move forward and this new rule would be a giant step backward in terms of the state’s energy independence,” said Daniel Barlow, public policy manager at Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. “Home and community solar are growing industries and creating good jobs for Vermonters. We should advance policies that help more Vermonters and Vermont businesses go green, unfortunately this new plan contains little urgency to address the economic and environmental threat of climate change.”
Issues with the Public Service Board’s net metering program revisions that the groups outlined:
- Towns, schools, universities, and local Vermont businesses can’t choose net metered renewable energy to fully power their electricity needs due to the rule’s limits.
- The rule infringes on Vermonters’ ability to choose their own energy future, particularly farmers, schools, and small businesses, and folks who don’t own property or whose property isn’t suitable for renewables; effectively ending community solar in Vermont. Vermont has shown the country how to successfully implement group net metering and now other states are moving forward as Vermont is moving backwards.
- Completely disregards farmers’ calls for continuing their net metering opportunities. The proposed penalizing rates effectively end the ability of Vermont farmers to host systems to keep their farms viable.
- In some circumstances, Vermonters choosing clean energy would actually be penalized for also making energy efficiency improvements or adopting new technologies under the proposed rule. The rule effectively discourages energy efficiency and innovations to reduce peak demand.
- Monopoly utilities get to determine customer charges, even for existing solar customers who personally invested early in clean energy and set up financing based on the established cost structure, which unfairly changes the rules of the game mid-stream, and will make clean energy more expensive for Vermonters now and in the future.
“It would take close to a century for Vermont to repower our grid with local renewable energy if the arbitrary yearly cap in this rule were implemented,” explained Campbell Andersen. “With deadly record heatwaves, wildfires, and flooding already ravaging communities across our country and worldwide due to climate change, we simply have no more time to wait to shift from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy.”
The Public Service Board’s Order can be found online at http://psb.vermont.gov/statutesrulesandguidelines/proposedrules/rule5100.
Renewable Energy Vermont Welcomes Olivia Campbell Andersen as New Executive Director
Wednesday, May 3, 2016
Montpelier, VT — Renewable Energy Vermont’s Board of Directors are proud to announce that after an extensive nationwide search, Olivia Campbell Andersen will lead the diverse and growing, clean energy organization as its new Executive Director.
“We are incredibly excited to have Olivia on board, during an especially critical time for renewable energy in our state, and nationwide” said Jeff Forward, Chairman of the REV Board of Directors and President of Forward Thinking Consultants.
“I am thrilled to join Renewable Energy Vermont’s team of energy innovators and look forward to collaborating with community leaders to continue REV’s progress increasing Vermont’s climate resilience and energy independence, ” said Olivia Campbell Andersen. “It is only by working together, that we will achieve 90% total renewable energy by 2050.”
Campbell Andersen, a Vermont Law School alumnae, returns to the Green Mountain State after living in Maryland. Olivia most recently served as Senior Policy Director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Assistant Chief of Staff to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, advising the Governor on environmental, sustainability, energy, budget, and transportation issues. Prior to her service with the State of Maryland, she worked for Congressman Steny H. Hoyer during his time as Majority Leader. Olivia’s career also includes time with the National Wildlife Federation, during which she worked to reduce mercury and carbon pollution through federal and state regulatory and legislative action, notably authoring and leading the advocacy campaign to enact Maryland’s Healthy Air Act. Olivia holds degrees from Vermont Law School and Gettysburg College.
Olivia will serve as the fifth Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont, since its founding in 2001. Renewable Energy Vermont represents businesses, non-profits, utilities, and individuals committed to reducing our reliance on dirty fossil fuels by increasing clean renewable energy and energy efficiency. Vermont’s clean energy industry supports at least 16,231 sustainable jobs at 2,519 businesses, representing approximately 5% of Vermont’s economy.
Vermont Farmers Air Concern Over Anti Solar, Renewable Policies
Tuesday, March 19, 2016
MONTPELIER, VT–Farmers from all corners of the state are voicing their concern about how new policies would impact solar and other renewable energy on Vermont farms.
More than 40 farmers wrote to lawmakers and government officials, stating, “We are concerned about policies being developed in Montpelier that could negatively impact our ability to affordably use, and host, solar and other renewable energy projects on our farms.”
“Vermont farmers have a proud tradition of turning the sun’s energy into productive use. Producing clean renewable energy is an increasingly vital part of Vermont’s modern agricultural economy,” the farmers said.
Bruce Nelson, a dairy farmer in Ryegate, explained, “Our family’s business has been harvesting sunlight through our animals, through our dairy cows, for 200 years, We’re turning sunlight into a product that people can use and enjoy. Solar generation is just harvesting sunlight, and I think that fits into our business model.”
The letter cites renewable energy production helping diversify and stabilize farm income and keep land in agricultural production.
The letter urges state officials — lawmakers, Administration officials, and the Public Service Board — to ensure that the property rights of working landscape owners are not diminished, allowing Vermont’s agriculture community to play a meaningful part in producing valuable renewable resources, while enhancing farm viability. Further the letter cites ensuring that farmers receive fair compensation for clean energy produced on their land and to protect farms from new fees.
“We believe Vermont’s renewable energy and agricultural economies are complementary…we are proud to be doing our part for future generations by providing Vermont-made renewable energy and reducing our dependence on out-of-state fossil fuels,” the farmers concluded.
The VPR Poll: The Races, The Issues and the Full Results
Monday, February 22, 2016
What do Vermonters think about the coming election? What about renewable energy? Guns? Marijuana? School consolidation? The VPR Poll has some answers.
From Feb. 3 through Feb. 17, 2016, VPR and The Castleton Polling Institute put these questions – and quite a few more – to 895 people living in all of Vermont’s 14 counties. See full results here.
Poll Shows Vermonters Want More Solar In Their Towns
Thursday, February 18, 2016.
MONTPELIER, VT – Vermonters across the state want more solar in the state and also in their own towns, a recent poll found.
Three-quarters of Vermonters surveyed support building more solar farms in Vermont (76%). Additionally, Vermonters are just as supportive of building more solar farms in their own towns (75%). Support for more solar farms extends across party lines, with Democrats (87%), Independents (65%) and Republicans (58%) all strongly supporting building more solar farms in their towns.
Regarding the pace of solar energy deployment, 77% of Vermonters believe the current pace of solar development is about right or should be going faster. A majority of Vermonters believe that the current pace of solar energy use in Vermont is just right, while 23% believe the pace of solar energy development is not going fast enough. Only 16% believe that solar energy use is going too fast.
A professionally conducted telephone poll of 300 Vermont adults was conducted from February 1-4, 2016, by Anzalone Liszt Grove and paid for by the Renewable Energy Vermont Education Fund (REVEF). The statistically significant poll had a margin of error of 5.66%.
“These results confirm the support for solar we are hearing from communities and residents across Vermont,” explained Rod Viens, Chair of the REVEF board. “All across the state, we hear from people that solar energy gives communities power and increases the state’s self-reliance with locally generated renewable energy that contributes to combat climate change. More and more communities are exploring opportunities to build solar projects and more and more customers want the financial and environmental benefits of going solar.”
The specific wording of the questions asked, was:
- Do you support or oppose building more solar farms in Vermont to expand the use of solar energy?
- Do you support or oppose building more solar farms in your town to expand the use of solar energy?
- Thinking about the pace of solar energy use in Vermont, do you believe Vermont is going too fast in its use of solar energy, not going fast enough in its use of solar energy, or do you think its current pace is about right?
The Renewable Energy Vermont Education Fund supports public education, outreach, research, and stakeholder engagement to drive Vermont’s efficient and renewable energy future.