Solar installation at the Branon Family Sugaring farm

Cleaner Energy

What fuels do you use to keep warm and power your lights, get to work, or boil your sap to syrup? In 2015, the total energy used in Vermont was approximately 16% renewable, coming from sources like solar and wind, geothermal energy from the ground, and bio-gas from dairies.  The large majority - 84% - came from fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel, propane, or coal.  

Getting 16% of energy needs met with clean renewables makes our state a real energy leader. It’s a good start, but if we’re serious about doing our part to combat climate change, we must get almost all of our energy from clean sources (90% by 2050), creating jobs and boosting the state’s economy in the process. We also need better buildings, greener transportation choices, and more electric vehicles on our roads.

On this page:

Why It Matters

 

Going Renewable: Good for the Economy and the Climate!

To reach Vermont’s planning goal of making 90% of our energy renewable by 2050, we need to:

  • Increase the share of electricity on Vermont’s grid that is generated with renewables.
  • Heat buildings with electricity, wood, geothermal, or biogas.
  • Power vehicles with electricity and biofuels instead of gasoline and diesel.

Here’s our progress to date:

Pie chart indicating 45% renewable electricity on the grid. Pie chart indicating 20% renewable building heat in VT. Pie chart indicating 5% renewable transportation on our roads.

As we replace more fossil fuel energy with renewable energy, the state’s emissions of carbon pollution will fall, and the economy will get a big boost. Vermont is currently third in the nation for per capita solar jobs, and more than one in 20 Vermonters now works in the clean energy workforce. Many of these jobs are in new small businesses.  

From Fossil Fuel to Clean Electricity

If we increase the share of that renewable energy that is generated here in Vermont-- by rooftop solar or solar arrays, farm-based methane digesters, biofuel or biomass (wood) energy plants, or wind turbines – we will retain much more of the billion plus dollars we spend each year on energy right here in Vermont’s economy, building the state’s independence from volatile global oil markets.

Policies can help spur this transition, but success depends on the individual decisions households, businesses and communities across the state make about where to get their energy. What can you do?

 

How the State is Cleaning Up Our Energy Supply

Large solar installation in Stafford, VTVermont has innovative policies and financial incentives to support a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy.  

A Pioneering Renewable Energy Standard (RES)

Vermont’s RES requires:

Progress toward 75% renewable energy with the renewable portfolio standard

  • A big increase in renewable electric supply. In 2017, 55% of a utility’s power supply must be renewable. In 2032, its 75%!
     
  • Small scale, distributed generation. By 2032, 10% of each utility’s electricity must come from in-state renewable generators under five megawatts that can help decrease outages and reduce transmission costs.
     
  • Energy transformation. Utilities must offer their customers services to help them use less fossil fuels by conserving energy and trying new technologies like electric heat pumps. In 2032, 12% of each utility’s electricity sales must supply these energy transformation projects.

The RES is a big deal. Its impact alone will meet one quarter of our 2050 goal for reducing carbon pollution, with limited impact on electric rates, and hundreds of millions in energy savings for Vermonters.  

More Renewables with Incentives

There are financial incentives available to kick-start the development of more renewable energy in Vermont. 

The Clean Energy Development Fund provides grants and financing to Vermonters and Vermont businesses for renewable energy projects. Check out past projects.

The Standard Offer allows renewable energy developers to create small (2.2 megawatts or less) generation projects with a guaranteed long term contract price. This helps provide the distributed generation that utilities must purchase. 

Net Metering allows Vermonters to create renewable generation systems, like a solar array or wind turbine, and sell the power to their utility, reducing their electric bills partially or completely. 

Communities that have developed a plan for their energy future can have a stronger role in deciding where new projects are located. Learn more about Act 174!

State fish hatchery image

State Agencies Are Leading By Example!

As one of Vermont's largest energy users, state government is uniquely positioned to show the benefits of going renewable. Our agencies are completing new projects every year. Find out how we’re using sunlight to grow fish and power state garages, and wood to heat our biggest office complex.  Read more about our solar installations and conversions to wood

 

What You Can Do

Methane digester at Vermont Tech CommunityMany Vermonters are going renewable, and they’re saving money in the process. Join them!

  • Go Solar Along with weatherization, setting up your own solar electric system is one of the best long term investments you can make. The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) has links to many resources for residential and community solar, and has a Community Solar Toolbox with inspiring success stories.
     
  • Buy Cow Power If you’re a Green Mountain Power customer, consider purchasing Cow Power, electricity from the methane of Vermont’s cows. Your electric bill will support Vermont farmers and development of new methane generators. 
     
  • Install a Modern Wood Heating System The Biomass Energy Resource Center helps communities and institutions assess their options.
     
  • Help Shape Your Community’s Energy Future Many communities are developing plans to transition to clean energy, and good guidance is available.  A new Community Energy Dashboard offers a powerful suite of interactive tools to set goals, track progress, map actions, share stories, and hear from trusted neighbors.