Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Electric Department Redouble Electrification Efforts to Become Net Zero Energy City
Series of Town Hall Meetings to Engage Community in Net Zero Energy Goal to Start in March
Legislators Weigh In on Importance of Supporting Burlington’s Net Zero Energy Goal with Action in Montpelier
Vermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Electric Department (BED) today thanked the Burlington community for supporting the $20 million Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond, and announced early-2022 redoubled efforts to electrify the City and reduce fossil fuel usage.
These efforts, made possible in part by voter approval of what is believed to be the nation’s first Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond, include: new and expanded strategic electrification incentives to help more customers make the switch to electric vehicles, heat pump water heaters, and other clean and efficient technologies with continued enhanced incentives for low- and moderate-income Burlingtonians; a series of town hall meetings intended to increase awareness of the importance of electrification and the key role Burlington businesses and residents have in achieving this transformation; and renewed efforts to secure legislative approval of Burlington’s voter-approved charter change that would give the City greater ability to regulate heating systems and facilitate the switch to renewable energy options.
The Mayor and BED are aggressively pursuing these local electrification efforts at a moment when electrification finally is gaining broader national attention as one of our most important strategies for fighting the climate emergency, and when the role of local efforts in succeeding at these strategies is becoming clearer. One reflection of the importance of local efforts is that Rewiring America, a nonprofit launched in 2020 that is working to create a movement to fight climate change and jump-start the economy by electrifying everything, recently has launched a national Mayors for Electrification coalition with Mayor Weinberger serving as one of the group’s founding members.
A Rewiring America team member participating in today’s press conference announced that one of the group’s co-founders and MacArthur Award winner, Saul Griffith, Ph.D., will help lead one of Burlington’s town hall meetings.
“The Burlington community answered the urgent call for us all to take action to address the climate emergency and overwhelming approved the first-of-its-kind Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond,” stated Mayor Weinberger. “Now, we all – City leaders, businesses, residents, and state officials – must make good on this opportunity the voters have given us and forge greater on-the-ground progress toward the nation’s most ambitious climate goal.”
“Burlington Electric is pleased to offer our best customer incentives ever as we kick off 2022 with a goal of accelerating Burlington’s transition away from fossil fuels and toward a renewably-powered future,” said Darren Springer, General Manager of Burlington Electric Department. “Thanks to our community’s support of the Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond, BED will be able to increase rebates for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, home and workplace charging stations, heat pump water heaters, electric leaf blowers, and induction stoves, while introducing new incentives for everything from electric snow blowers to electric motorcycles. We’ll also continue to offer enhanced incentives for our low- and moderate-income customers. We look forward to working with our community to make 2022 a landmark year in Burlington’s progress toward becoming a Net Zero Energy city.”
STRATEGIC ELECTRIFICATION INCENTIVES CRITICAL TO NET ZERO ENERGY PROGRESS
Strategic electrification, a key component of achieving Burlington’s Net Zero Energy city goal, refers to replacing fossil-fueled technologies with clean, efficient electric technologies such as electric vehicles, cold-climate heat pumps (CCHPs), electric lawnmowers, and more. The benefits of this approach include keeping more energy dollars in the local economy, using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuel for thermal, transportation, and other electricity needs, providing economic benefits to utility ratepayers, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Increased Rebates Available
BED’s Green Stimulus rebates have helped more than double the number of Burlingtonians driving all-electric vehicles (EVs). BED has expanded its EV and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) rebates for 2022 to their highest levels to date. BED customers purchasing or leasing a new EV now can receive rebates of up to $2,300, or $2,900 for low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers. For new PHEVs, rebates will total $2,000, or $2,300 for LMI customers. These BED rebates are in addition to available state and federal rebates, as well as tax incentives.
BED also is boosting incentives on pre-owned EVs and PHEVS to $1,300, or $1,500 for LMI customers. Added for 2022, any customer purchasing an EV or PHEV, whether new or pre-owned, will be eligible for additional incentives (up to $900) to install a home charging station if the home charger is a type that will enable customers to register for BED’s residential EV rate, which allows car charging with 100 percent renewable electricity for the equivalent of approximately 70 cents per gallon.
Further in 2022, BED is increasing rebates for heat pump water heaters, workplace EV charging stations, induction cookstoves, and residential leaf blowers.
New Rebates Added
BED also is introducing new incentives in 2022, including rebates for EV charging stations at rental and multi-family buildings, electric snow blowers, electric chainsaws, electric lawn/shrub trimmers, residential electric riding lawnmowers, commercial electric push lawnmowers, and even electric motorcycles.
Prior Rebates Continued
BED will continue many of its popular rebates as well, including $200 for electric bikes and $100 for residential electric push lawnmowers. BED’s Green Stimulus rebates have helped increase residential CCHP installations by more than 14 times since launching in mid-2020, and for 2022 BED is continuing strong incentives, with customers able to receive $2,450 in total incentives for CCHPs under two tons, or $2,850 for LMI customers. Incentives continue at present levels for other types of heat pumps as well.
“The Burlington Electric Commission supported the Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond proposal as a means to spur action toward our Net Zero Energy goal in a way that reduces future upward rate pressure,” stated Rep. Gabrielle Stebbins, Chair of Burlington Electric Commission. “The Commission appreciates that our community, in voting ‘yes’ on the Revenue Bond, made it clear that enhancing and increasing opportunities for meaningful climate action steps is a priority.”
Program restrictions may apply to the above-listed incentive levels. For full details of all programs, Burlingtonians are invited to visit www.burlingtonelectric.com/rebates. Additionally, community members can learn more about the benefits of the Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond by subscribing and listening to BED’s new Net Zero Energy Podcast.
ENGAGE COMMUNITY ON THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY
The Mayor today also announced topics, speakers, and dates for two upcoming online town hall meetings.
Jamal Lewis, Director of Policy Partnerships and Equitable Electrification for Rewiring America, a nonprofit working to electrify everything, beginning with the more than 120 million households around our nation, stated: “Burlington leads the way for cities across the nation in pursuing the ambitious goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy city by 2030. The Rewiring America team deeply appreciates the Mayor’s bold leadership and the tremendous progress being accomplished by Burlington Electric Department through its innovative and creative strategic electrification incentives. Rewiring America Co-Founder and Chief Scientist Saul Griffith looks forward to joining the Burlington community in March for a town hall meeting to talk with Burlingtonians about the benefits of and pathways to strategic electrification. And with a community that passed a trail-blazing Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond with nearly 70 percent of the vote, Burlingtonians appear well-positioned to help in the effort to electrify everything.”
The Mayor, an early signatory of the “electrify everything” pledge and a founding member of Rewiring America’s Mayors for Electrification group, announced that the town hall meeting with Rewiring America has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 30, 2022, from 5:00 to 6:00pm and can be accessed through this link.
BED GM Springer, who also signed the pledge and joined Rewiring America’s CEOs for Electrification group, added that the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN), a statewide network of more than 120 town energy committees and partners, will be co-hosting the town hall meeting with Rewiring America.
The Mayor announced a second upcoming town hall meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 6, 2022 from 5:00 to 6:15pm that can be accessed through this link. During this meeting, John Sterman, Ph.D., the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Director of MIT’s Systems Dynamics Group, will provide a demonstration of the En-ROADS climate solutions simulator, a policy simulation model that offers anyone the opportunity to explore different pathways to fight climate change.
En-ROADS was co-developed with Climate Interactive, a not-for-profit energy and environment think tank. Bethany Patten, who works with Professor Sterman on En-ROADS and serves as Senior Associate Director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and lead on the MIT Sloan Climate Pathways Project, stated: “Our goal at the MIT Sloan Climate Pathways Project is to use our interactive simulations to advance the adoption of evidence-based climate policy through top decision-makers. We are delighted to have Mayor Weinberger recognize our En-ROADS climate solutions simulator as a critical tool to help communities like Burlington understand how their strategies and efforts link with the global pathways toward emissions reduction and to help Burlington pursue its Net Zero Energy goal. We look forward to working with the Mayor and Burlington Electric Department on this endeavor.”
Mayor Weinberger added: “We are very fortunate in Burlington that transformational energy leaders like Saul Griffith and John Sterman will be joining us for community conversations about we can tackle climate change as we move our City down the path to Net Zero Energy. Each one of us has the potential to make an impactful difference in this must-win fight.”
STATE LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS CRITICAL TO BURLINGTON’S NET ZERO ENERGY STRATEGY
While incentives such as those announced today are critical to supporting Burlington’s Net Zero Energy progress, policy initiatives also are key to achieving emissions reductions consistent with the Net Zero Energy Roadmap. Burlington already has adopted two important policies – rental weatherization standards and new construction primary renewable heating requirements – that will help reduce fossil fuel use and increase efficiency in buildings in Burlington.
However, in 2022, additional policies pending in the Vermont Legislature could provide strong tailwinds for climate progress in Burlington. These include H. 448, the legislative vehicle to advance Burlington’s thermal energy charter change, which was approved by Burlingtonians with nearly 65 percent of the vote on Town Meeting Day 2021 and requires legislative approval as well. The charter change would provide broader authority for Burlington to regulate emissions in buildings and utilize carbon impact or alternative compliance payments as a further means of leveling the playing field for renewable energy options.
Along with the charter change, legislators are considering a variety of additional policy initiatives that would support climate progress in Burlington and statewide, including continuing state EV rebates, providing funds to municipalities to fuel switch from fossil fuels to renewables, investing in electric grid upgrades and modernization, and a number of others.
The Mayor and GM Springer thanked Sen. Chris Bray, Chair of the Vermont Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, and Rep. Stebbins, Member of the Vermont House Committee on Transportation, both long-time leaders on renewable energy policy development, for joining the online event.
Sen. Bray stated: “The City of Burlington is a postcard from the clean energy future, sent to Vermont and the nation. That future is vibrant, with energy savings for Vermonters, good jobs for energy workers, and a lifestyle that demonstrates genuine stewardship of our environment. At the state level, I will continue to support your work here. What we learn in the Queen City helps the entire state.”
Rep. Stebbins stated: “We all know that climate change brings great challenges to our world. But also, it creates opportunities. I'm grateful to be able to work at both the local and state levels to ensure that we pass Burlington’s thermal energy charter change and harness opportunities like saving money and getting off fossil fuels. Thank you, Burlingtonians, for walking the walk!"
Mayor Weinberger and GM Springer also welcomed Johanna Miller, Energy & Climate Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) and Coordinator of the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN), who participated in today’s announcements and stated: “Leadership at the community level is essential to climate progress. It is inspiring and important to see Burlingtonians so clearly committed to a cleaner energy future. That forward-looking commitment will help realize incredible cost-savings and lead to meaningful climate and public health benefits for Queen City residents for decades to come. Burlington’s work serves as a model for other communities across Vermont."
The Mayor further added: “I am grateful that Sen. Bray and Rep. Stebbins took the time to recognize the important work we’re accomplishing in Burlington and for their work in the State House that supports our City and all of Vermont. Thank you, as well, to VECAN for co-hosting our upcoming town hall meeting with Rewiring America and for its important grassroots work on a statewide basis to slow down climate change.”
Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger Burlington, VT 1.27.2022