Last DSIRE Review: 12/05/2012
In June 1999, Vermont enacted legislation authorizing the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) to establish a volumetric charge on all electric customers' bills to support energy-efficiency programs. As a result, in 2000 the PSB established Efficiency Vermont and a funding mechanism to support it. The funding mechanism, which varies by utility, is based on factors unique to each utility's service territory and is reviewed periodically and adjusted as necessary by the PSB.* It should be noted that Burlington Electric Department is not required to fund Efficiency Vermont; it collects its funds and implements its programs directly under a separate agreement with the PSB. Many of Burlington Electric Department programs are identical to Efficiency Vermont programs.
The cap on the annual budget was set at $17.5 million until 2005, when legislation removed the cap. The PSB set the annual budget for Efficiency Vermont at $19.5 million for 2006, $24 million for 2007, and $30.75 million for 2008 (actual expenditures may vary from budget). The three year Efficiency Vermont plan covering 2009 to 2011 (approved by the PSB) sets the budget at $28.9 million for 2009, $33 million for 2010 (est.) and $37.6 million for 2011 (est.). The 2012 plan outlines the budget for the next three years (approved by the PSB). The 2012 budget is $41.2 million (est.), $44.2 million (est.) for 2013, and $47.8 million (est.) for 2014. These estimates include funds collected from the volumetric charge as well as other funds, such as the Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the ISO New England Forward Capacity Market, which fund heating and process fuels services. There is no expiration date for Efficiency Vermont.
By statute, the funds collected for Efficiency Vermont may not be used to meet the general obligations of the state. Efficiency Vermont provides technical assistance and financial incentives for energy-efficient building design, construction, renovation, equipment, lighting and appliances. Its primary priorities are reducing the size of future power purchases, reducing the generation of greenhouse gases, limiting the need to upgrade the state's transmission and distribution infrastructure, and minimizing the costs of electricity.
Efficiency Vermont is administered by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), an independent nonprofit organization. Efficiency Vermont's programs undergo review and verification through an independent financial audit, a savings-verification process conducted by the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS), and an independent audit mandated by the Vermont Legislature. In December 2010, the Efficiency Vermont contract structure to both Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and Burlington Electric was replaced with a franchise-like "Order of Appointment" structure with a duration of 12 years. For more information, see the PSB's web site.
Efficiency Vermont annual reports and plans include additional details on the fund, the types of projects it has funded, and its plans for the future.
The Vermont Energy Act of 2009 (H. 446) amended Efficiency Vermont and directed the DPS (with subsequent PSB approval and enactment) to develop a self-managed energy efficiency program for eligible transmission and industrial electric ratepayers. The program began January 1, 2010. Eligible program participants include customers within the transmission and industrial rate class whose charges to the statewide energy efficiency fund were $1.5 million or more in 2008. In addition, these customers must have a comprehensive energy management program (ISO-14001 certification satisfies the requirement, other programs are also eligible). Finally, they must commit at least $1 million/year (on average) to each three-year period in which it participates in the self-managed energy efficiency program. The only company eligible for the "SMEEP" program is IBM. SMEEP program participants are not required to pay into the Efficiency Vermont as long as they comply with SMEEP requirements. See the Vermont Public Service Board more information on SMEEP.
In addition to the SMEEP program, another self-management program called the Energy Savings Accounts are available to commercial customers that are required to contributed at least $5,000 per year to the fund (via the energy efficiency charge).
* The PSB is authorized to allow customers that implement an "extraordinary amount of cost-effective energy efficiency" at their own expense or that incurred "extraordinary costs on those measures" to apply for an exemption from some or all of the charge assessed.