The Grass Really is Greener in Vermont!

March 25, 2022

When it comes to electrifying everything, the town of Burlington, Vermont has become a model for how to get it done. The city of 43,000 set an ambitious goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy city by 2030, and has followed up with incentives that help its citizens switch from fossil-fueled appliances to electric vehicles, heat pumps, and other clean and efficient technologies.

In December, townspeople passed the first-ever Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond, approving $20 million in funds to expand its previous rebates and Green Stimulus programs. The measure passed with wide support – fully 70 percent of voters approved of funding the switch to electrification.

In 2014, Burlington became the first city in the US whose grid is 100 percent backed by renewable energy. In 2015, Vermont set a state-wide renewable energy standard that remains unique in the country. With the new bond, the city can increase its Green Stimulus rebates for EVs, 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. The Burlington Electric Department (BED) will also continue to offer enhanced incentives for low- and moderate-income customers.

“We have ambitious climate goals, and we’re off to a pretty great start in electrifying everything, but it’s going to require huge buy-in from the people of Burlington,” says Mayor Miro Weinberger.

So far, says BED manager Darren Springer, customers have taken advantage of about 1700 rebates. The most popular program has been heat pumps, followed by electric lawnmowers and EVs. The rebates have helped more than double the number of Burlingtonians driving EVs.

Buy local electricity, not foreign oil

Springer says the EV rebates are a good example of how strategic electrification is not only great for the climate, but for the local economy. Not only is it cheaper to charge an EV than fill it with gas, $.75 of every dollar spent at the gas pump goes out of state. In contrast, charging an EV with BED’s 100% renewable electricity, $.65 of every dollar stays in the Vermont economy. “We talk a lot about buying local food, beer and books,” he says. “This is the new version of buy local – buying local energy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and better for the planet.”