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Vermont Climate Economy Action Team announces 2019 action priorities

2018-12-05

The Vermont Climate Economy Action Team (CEAT) today announced their 2019 agenda for advancing economic progress and making Vermont more affordable by helping Vermonters use energy more efficiently and meet their heating and transportation needs with renewable energy sources.

“While the national economy is bustling, many areas of Vermont are searching for new approaches to create jobs, make communities more livable, and to attract and retain young people. Vermont can be a leader in developing innovative strategies to tackle climate change, and in doing so we can help secure our economic future,” said CEAT Chair Joe Fusco.  “Through deeper investments in weatherization and incentivizing a rapid transition to electric vehicles, Vermont takes important steps to improve its aging housing stock and make rural transportation more affordable. This agenda is carefully targeted towards those Vermonters struggling to get by who stand to gain most dramatically from reductions in their heating and travel costs.” 

The Vermont Climate Economy Action Team (CEAT) serves as the leadership team of the Vermont Climate Economy Partnership. Since 2016 it has been working to advance initiatives to expand distributed energy generation and efficiency, cultivate climate economy entrepreneurs and startup businesses, and reduce Vermont’s carbon impact while boosting innovation, creating jobs, and attracting youth to the state.

The following are two key components of CEAT’s 2019 Action Agenda:

Improve Vermont’s rural economy by doubling the low income weatherization program

Too many Vermonters pay too much to heat their homes each year, and this burden is especially great for low income Vermonters. Our state, particularly our rural areas, also hosts some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. The Weatherization Assistance Program provides free home energy retrofits to low income Vermonters. Working through local Community Action Agencies, this program saves Vermonters money on their heating bills, reduces their dependence on fossil fuels and creates building trades jobs that can’t be outsourced. The state also saves money because insulated homes require less heating fuel assistance. Vermont should double from 950 to 1,900 the number of households served by this successful program by increasing state support for the program by $9.5 million annually.

Send a clear market signal by reducing the purchase price of electric vehicles and making them more accessible to low-income Vermonters.

In our rural state, the average Vermont household spends nearly $2,500 each year on gas for their cars and trucks. Transportation also is the source of over 40% of Vermont’s carbon emissions. Electric vehicles are a key strategy in reducing Vermonter’s ongoing transportation costs and our state’s contributions to climate change.

85% of Vermont towns now host at least one electric vehicle owner proving that this technology is suitable even in the most rural areas. While sales of EV’s has been climbing rapidly, there are many Vermonters for whom the upfront costs of EV’s are out of reach.

CEAT supports sending a strong market signal in favor of EV adoption by waiving the 6% purchase and use tax on up to $30,000 towards purchase of an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid. CEAT also supports the creation of a special incentive targeted to low-income Vermonters. The expectation is that Vermont’s market for used EV’s and plug-in hybrids become much more robust and accessible when the tax waiver and incentive are combined.

Funding for these incentives should come from a recent $3.5 million consumer settlement with Volkswagen.

CEAT believes EV owners should pay their fair share to support Vermont’s transportation infrastructure and that EV owners should pay as a surcharge on their electricity use for EV charging. The Public Utility Commission will be making recommendations regarding EV’s and the transportation fund by July 1, 2019.

For a full outline of CEAT’s 2019 Action Agenda, click here

The Vermont Climate Economy Action Team (CEAT), the leadership team of the VT Climate Economy Partnership, is dedicated to advancing initiatives to expand distributed energy generation and efficiency in Vermont, cultivate climate economy entrepreneurs and startup businesses, and reduce Vermont’s carbon impact while boosting economic opportunity, creating jobs, and attracting youth and