Burlington voters strongly support net zero energy revenue bond

Mayor Weinberger and Administration to evaluate next steps to continue investment in City streets and sidewalks

Vermont Business Magazine Burlington voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the $20 million Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond for Burlington Electric Department with 70% of voters supporting the ballot measure.

Largely cost neutral to ratepayers, the Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond will allow Burlington Electric Department to continue and expand the Green Stimulus incentives that have helped hundreds of Burlingtonians switch from fossil fuel-burning cars and furnaces to electric vehicles (EVs) and cold-climate heat pumps. The bond also will support grid updates for reliability, technology systems to better serve customers, and new EV charging stations.

“The Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond is a first of its kind, fiscally-responsible opportunity that will bring Burlington one step closer to achieving some of the most ambitious climate goals nationwide,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Thanks to the widespread support of Burlingtonians, the City now moves even closer to our critical goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy City.”

“Burlington Electric Department thanks our community for supporting the Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond which will provide a foundational investment for climate progress and grid reliability,” said Darren Springer, General Manager of Burlington Electric Department. “Through this bond, we’ll continue and expand our efforts to support our customers in switching from fossil fuels to clean technologies such as electric vehicles, cold-climate heat pumps, and more. Today’s vote not only moves us toward a Net Zero Energy future but also offers a compelling financing model for other public power utilities around the nation to consider as we all look to meet our climate commitments.”

“Thank you, neighbors, for believing in your municipal utility and for choosing to invest in our collective future!” stated Gabrielle Stebbins, Chair of the Burlington Electric Commission. “You asked that Burlington work to reduce our climate impact, and now you have voted your support. Our Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond is a critical step to making key investments in our electric grid and to continuing BED’s Green Stimulus program which helps us all invest in cleaner, more efficient technologies. It’s smart policy, all around.”

While the majority (57%) of voters supported the $40 million General Obligation (GO) Bond, it did not receive the two thirds majority required for approval. Mayor Weinberger reaffirmed the City’s commitment to investing in public infrastructure.

“Before the 2015 Capital Plan, Burlington faced numerous challenges due to chronic underinvestment and deferred maintenance of some of our essential public infrastructure,” stated Mayor Weinberger. “This bond was an opportunity to continue the high level of investment in our City’s future of the last five years and address outstanding challenges. Over the coming weeks, the City team will evaluate how to most effectively move forward in this period of uncertainty and many competing challenges to find another route to address our public infrastructure needs that the taxpayers can support.”

If passed, the $40 million bond would have continued Capital Plan investments in streets, sidewalks, bridges, civic assets, and information technology and public safety infrastructure. Approval of the GO Bond would have resulted in moderate tax impacts over time.

Source: Burlington, VT 12.7.2021