Vermont’s energy efficiency programs ranked high

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(Host) According to a new national report, Vermont has one of the best energy efficiency programs in the country.

The report comes at a time when the Legislature and Governor Jim Douglas are fighting over a plan to expand the programs.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more.

(Kinzel) The report was issued by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. It compares all 50 states based on a number of criteria including programs to help consumers reduce their energy use, the adoption of energy building codes, and efficiency standards for appliances.

In the 2006 national scorecard, Vermont is tied for first place with California and Connecticut.

Currently the state’s efficiency utility helps Vermonters conserve electricity – a key part of the new global warming bill passed by lawmakers this session expands the program to include all fuels.

Governor Douglas has promised to veto the bill because it’s funded primarily by imposing a power generation tax on Vermont Yankee.

House Natural Resources chairman Robert Dostis says the new report shows that expanding the efficiency program could be very beneficial to the state economy.

(Dostis) “We’re keeping more of our energy dollars in the state. We’re reducing our carbon footprint and we’re saving money and then the work that would be required to retrofit buildings or even new construction means new jobs. So I think we as a state would benefit immensely.”

(Kinzel) James Moore follows energy issues for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. He says an expansion of these programs could have positive national impact.

(Moore) “That is exactly what we should be building on. Vermont has a role to play nationally in terms of being the laboratory to develop some of these incredible programs and then share them with other states and nations.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says the report confirms the good work that’s already taking place in Vermont but it doesn’t change his decision to veto the bill.

(Douglas) “I’m not sure I understand the logic. We’re already number one. I suppose some might look at it and say the bill’s less necessary.”

(Kinzel) The governor also says he has serious concerns about a proposed expansion of the program:

(Douglas) “Efficiency Vermont came after a long deliberative process of merging energy efficiency programs of the retail utilities had in effect for some time. It was a tried and true and tested strategy. Expanding to other fuels is not tested. So I think we have to be very careful before we create some new uncertain bureaucracy.”

(Kinzel) The global warming bill was formally delivered to the Governor’s office on Tuesday – this means Douglas now has five days to act on the legislation.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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