525+ Convene to Accelerate Renewable Energy & Climate Solutions at REV Conference
Recognized as New England’s premier event exploring clean energy innovation and climate solutions, Renewable Energy Vermont’s 18th annual Conference and Exposition, REV2018, themed REVitalize: Transforming Energy Further, Faster, Together convened more than 525 people for two days of collective re-envisioning of New England’s energy needs. The conference also served as an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of individuals and organizations progressing climate and renewable energy in Vermont. “With our reputation as THE Green Mountain State, comes great responsibility and international expectations of leadership,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont. “Our 2018 awardees – Old Spokes Home, Representative Michael Yantachka, and Norm Etkind of the Vermont Superintendents Association – have shown us all that incredible climate action and cost savings are possible in every community when we work together.”Norm Etkind received the 2018 Renewable Energy Champion Award.
The award recognizes an individual who tirelessly ‘champions’ the benefits of developing, creating, informing, and striving to improve our state with the deployment of renewable energy generation. A resident of Woodbury, VT, Norm has in his positions worked tirelessly to progress the use of advanced wood heating technology in the state. Thanks in large part to Norm’s leadership, dedication, patience, and technical advice Vermont is home to the largest number of schools in the nation heated with local, renewable, automated wood energy. “With the support of the Vermont Superintendents Association’s School Energy Management Program, Vermont school personnel have done an impressive job improving building efficiency and their use of photovoltaics and biomass systems,” Etkind said. “Many school buildings are not far from achieving the state’s goal of having 90% of their energy derived from renewable sources. This is an impressive demonstration of what can be achieved with our institutional buildings when funding sources, administrators and contractors work toward this shared goal.”
The Renewable Energy Innovation Award, recognizes a project, company, organization, or individual contributing innovative, influential, and transformative efforts for implementing renewable energy and climate action in Vermont. The 2018 recipient of the award is the Old Spokes Home due to their innovative work to help Vermonters, regardless of income find transportation that is good for our environment and culture. “When we learn that a big chunk of Vermont’s greenhouse gases comes from transportation, it just makes it so much more critical to get people out of their individual vehicles and onto bicycles and public transportation,” said Laura Jacoby, Executive Director of The Old Spokes Home. REV gives a Renewable Energy Legislative Champion to an individual in the Vermont Legislature that has worked hard to further renewable energy policy in the state.
This year, REV recognized Representative Michael Yantachka of the Charlotte-Hinesburg (Chit 4-1) district and a member of the House Energy & Technology Committee. During the 2018 legislative session, Representative Yantachka worked with his colleagues to make sure that the federal Volkswagen settlement dollars enabled more transportation electrification, rather than continue subsidies for additional diesel vehicles as originally proposed by the Administration and Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
He also sponsored legislation to cut the costs of and enable new renewable generation on pre-existing developed areas such as parking lots and rooftops. “Representative Yantachka has consistently worked to move Vermont’s climate economy forward thoughtfully as a member of the House Energy & Technology Committee, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR), and the climate caucus,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Executive Director of REV. “The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents a dire outlook for our planet if we fail to step up to the task of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in the next 12 years. This problem has to be tackled today. We can’t wait for a year, and we can’t wait for the federal government to take action under the current administration. We will not wish this problem away,” said Rep. Mike Yantachka. “Vermont, with other states in our region and across the country, must act now, in the next session, to take steps to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, especially in the transportation and heating sectors of energy consumption. We will get a bill to the Governor’s desk by the end of the next session.”
The two-day conference featured keynote speakers Gordon van Welie, President and CEO of ISO New England and Katherine Hamilton of 38 North Solutions, known for her podcast The Energy Gang from Green Tech Media. The conference also hosted three extraordinary plenary panels. Conference-goers had the rare opportunity to engage with three Public Utility Commission members around the challenges and opportunities of achieving 100% renewable energy – Lorraine Akiba, who recently retired from the Hawaii PUC, Abigail Anthony a Rhode Island PUC Commissioner, and Margaret Cheney a Vermont PUC Commissioner. The opening morning plenary session on carbon pollution pricing with Marie-Claude Francouer, Quebec Delegate to New England, MacKay Miller, Director of U.S. Strategy at National Grid, and Daniel Sosland of the Acadia Center. During lunch, attendees heard from Congressman Peter Welch, Vermont Senate Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, and Massachusetts Senate Pro Tempore Marc Pacheco.
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 in Vermont. Vermont’s clean energy economy directly enables at least 18,800 jobs at 3,612 businesses, representing approximately 6% of Vermont’s workforce. Together, we will achieve 100% total renewable energy (electric, thermal, transportation).