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Success for Burlington’s Green Stimulus Plan–Now Extended into 2021

by | Jan 27, 2021

Heat Pump Installations Under BED’s Net Zero Energy Programs Have Increased Fivefold and Allowed More Low-and Moderate-Income Burlingtonians to Strategically Electrify; Installations Support City’s Net Zero Energy Goal and Help Jump-Start Economy

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Electric Department (BED) today jointly announced that the Burlington Green Stimulus program is working and that program incentives have been extended into 2021 and will remain available through year’s end or until funding is exhausted. The Green Stimulus significantly increased incentives to help Burlingtonians heat their homes and power their vehicles with BED’s 100% renewably-sourced electricity. The increased incentives have boosted the City’s residential cold climate heat pump installations under BED’s strategic electrification program by more than five times since June 2020, allowing many Burlingtonians, including low- and moderate-income community members, to benefit from heat pump technology. The Green Stimulus initiatives are moving Burlington closer to a Net Zero Energy future, helping put contractors and installers back to work, and supporting economic recovery during the pandemic.

“Strategic electrification – powering our homes, cars, and businesses with 100 percent renewably-sourced energy – is the answer to the climate emergency,” said Mayor Weinberger. “This is how we save the planet while preserving and even improving our 21st century standard of living. Burlingtonians forged tremendous progress in 2020 and, if all of us get involved, we can show the world that this kind of structural change is possible. I’m pleased to announce that we are extending our Green Stimulus program into 2021 and will do everything we can to ensure that all Burlingtonians have access to and receive an equitable share of the economic relief and recovery resources available through Green Stimulus.”

Residential heat pump installations have increased fivefold since the introduction of Green Stimulus incentives June 1, 2020.

The Green Stimulus offers incentives for technologies including heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, electric vehicles (EVs), and more. Of these, the heat pump incentives have been the most popular. As of January 25, 2021, pursuant to BED’s strategic electrification programs, Burlingtonians have applied for rebates for the installation of 217 heat pumps. The Green Stimulus has led to a fivefold increase in the installation of residential heat pumps in the eight months from June 1, 2020 through today, when compared to the 41 heat pump installations from September 2019 through May 2020, when BED first launched the Tier 3 incentive. Of the 217 heat pump rebates, 36 customers, or nearly 17 percent, received additional low- and moderate-income rebates. Further, heat pumps in Burlington will save 4.5 million pounds of carbon per year.

Heat pumps in Burlington will reduce C02 emissions by 4.5 million pounds per year.

“BED is proud to have been one of the first utilities anywhere in the country to launch a Green Stimulus program in the early days of the pandemic, representing our commitment to support our customers and our community during the economic recovery while continuing to make progress toward our Net Zero Energy goal,” said Darren Springer, General Manager (GM) of Burlington Electric Department. “We hope many more Burlingtonians are able to make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy by taking advantage of our heat pump incentives, as well as our many other Green Stimulus initiatives.”

In addition to continued, enhanced heat pump incentives, BED will continue to offer many other opportunities through the Green Stimulus program, including: enhanced EV incentives; enhanced energy efficient appliance and weatherization incentives; a partnership with Old Spokes Home and Opportunities Credit Union to make electric bikes (E-bikes) available at cost and with zero percent interest loans to low-income customers; home energy loans through BED’s partnership with local credit unions to provide residential customers who install heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and/or new Energy Star home appliances with interest rates as low as zero percent based on household income; and a commercial loan program with zero percent loans for small businesses and nonprofits that need help replacing equipment with energy efficient options, as well as funds for ventilation improvements through an Economic Development Administration grant.

BED customers and installation partners applauded the breakthrough Green Stimulus program. BED customer and Old North End homeowner Katelyn Ellermann shared her heat pump story. Ms. Ellermann and her husband installed their first cold climate heat pump three years ago, taking advantage of a supplier-side incentive. Pleased with the heat pump’s efficiency and its ability to comfortably heat their upstairs and cool their entire home, they decided to purchase another heat pump to heat space on their home’s first floor. Ms. Ellerman stated: “The very generous Green Stimulus rebate made the installation a much more manageable and less stressful investment. We’re efficiently heating our downstairs and further minimizing our reliance on fossil fuel. We’re glad that we’ve been able to both make our home more comfortable and help our City progress toward its Net Zero Energy goal. We hope our story inspires other Burlingtonians to consider taking advantage of this program.”

Mark Stephenson, Owner and General Manager of Vermont Energy Contracting & Supply Corp. and former Chair of the Burlington Electric Commission, who installed Ms. Ellermann’s new heat pump, added: “I’ve been in the energy business for 35 years and installing heat pumps for 20 years. The uptick in heat pump installations in Burlington is the largest increase I’ve seen in all my years of installing various HVAC technologies. The added incentives offered by the Burlington Green Stimulus have made a huge difference, allowing many more folks to make the move to heat pumps.”

Nonprofit energy industry and environmental leaders also expressed strong support for the idea that the Burlington Green Stimulus and other strategic electrification initiatives represent meaningful and impactful strategies for addressing the climate emergency. Jenna Tatum, Director of the Building Electrification Institute, stated: “The Building Electrification Institute works with cities around the country to support equitable strategies for moving buildings off fossil fuels through building electrification. These strategies will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, lower housing costs, and can create good local jobs while using proven technologies such as heat pumps to provide efficient heating and cooling. By taking on the Net Zero Energy 2030 goal and advancing strong incentives and thoughtful policies to support electrification in buildings, Burlington is playing a leading role in addressing the climate crisis.”

Olivia Campbell Anderson, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont, stated: “Renewable Energy Vermont members are installing efficient, clean heating technologies, such as cold climate heat pumps, all around the state, helping their neighbors stay warm and take the chill out of winter gas and oil bills. Mayor Weinberger’s and Burlington Electric Department’s leadership to help Vermonters save money with local renewable heating meaningfully propels climate progress and our local economy. The Burlington Green Stimulus program supports and creates local jobs, with 1,275 Vermonters now working in renewable heating services.”

Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Action Program Director of Vermont Natural Resources Council, stated: “Greenhouse gas emissions from the heating/thermal sector are the second largest source of emissions in Vermont, and we need to focus policy and initiatives to reduce these emissions dramatically to reach our state climate goals. The Green Stimulus is a great example of local leadership, and it is great to see so many heat pumps installed in Burlington despite the challenges created by the pandemic. I hope Burlington can serve as a model for a green recovery effort at the state and national levels.”

 

During his April 6, 2020 State of the City address just a few weeks into the pandemic, Mayor Weinberger promised that, while doing everything possible to fight COVID-19, the City team also would continue to focus on core Burlington values, including its commitment to lead the way in responding to the global climate emergency. As a major step in that direction, the Mayor announced that a new Green Stimulus program would soon be launched by redirecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in existing efficiency funds to support a range of expanded and new initiatives to help support both the City’s economic recovery from the pandemic and its transition to becoming a Net Zero Energy city. The Green Stimulus would include numerous incentives, as well as loan programs to support residential customers with strategic electrification and energy efficiency projects, including heat pump installations, energy efficient appliance purchases, and weatherization efforts. During the April 7 Mayor’s Briefing and the April 22 Mayor’s Briefing, the Mayor and GM Springer updated the community on the progress of the Green Stimulus program, including details of the 15 initiatives that make up the program. Then, during the June 1 Mayor’s Briefing, the Mayor and GM Springer officially launched the Green Stimulus program after approval by the Public Utility Commission to repurpose unspent efficiency funds.

To learn more about the Green Stimulus, Burlingtonians may visit burlingtonelectric.com/greenstimulus, email efficiency@burlingtonelectric.com , or call 865.7300.

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