Thursday July 13, 2017
The results are in. According to the City of South Burlington, over the last two years, residents saved big in electricity costs, slashing six percent from their bills. This represents nearly $450,000 saved. Leading the effort to maximize these savings is the South Burlington Energy Committee (SBEC) with their mission to promote energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy. SBEC’s efforts were sparked by the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national five-million-dollar competition which challenges towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. South Burlington is one of 50 select cities and counties who are competing to reduce their energy consumption.
“The rate of savings that the community has already achieved will add up to $5 million in just over 11 years,” said SBEC committee member Keith Epstein.
SBEC has been promoting energy efficiency in a variety of engaging ways including home energy parties, public events, free energy conservation kits, a weekly column in The Other Paper by SBEC committee member Fred Kosnitsky, and creative advertisements on Facebook, Front Porch Forum, and the energyprize.org website. Residents responded and took action. These money saving efforts included upgrading light bulbs to LED, purchasing new energy-efficient appliances, weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, utilizing power strips and replacing inefficient shower heads, as well as sharing their successes with friends and neighbors. By individually taking action at home, residents have collectively made a big community impact.
“The wonderful work by the city, the staff, our community volunteers, and residents have helped achieve these remarkable results in energy efficiency, said City Council Chair Helen Riehle. She adds, “Together, we have made progress towards our goals for renewable energy, a healthy environment, and, importantly, real savings. The savings are reserved for future investments so the progress will continue.”
In addition to working directly with residents, SBEC also collaborated with partners to maximize their efforts and provide electricity-related education and resources. These partners included Efficiency Vermont, Green Mountain Power (GMP), and Vermont Gas. The city notes that each partner is a critical component to the overall success and the integrated approach will continue to help residents save money.
Director of Efficiency Vermont Karen Glitman said, “Congratulations to the City of South Burlington for this remarkable achievement. This is a powerful example of how residents, businesses, community leaders, and utilities like GMP and Efficiency Vermont can partner for success.”
Efficiency Vermont has a multi-pronged role in working with the community. The utility aided in the planning of the changes that could be implemented, provided educational resources, and monitored electricity consumption. They share the data through a dashboard of metrics which has proven a decrease in kWh used in neighborhoods throughout the city. They also bring incentives to residents such as rebates on energy efficient improvements and connections to resources for services such as energy assessments or renovation and construction.
GMP invested in outreach to the South Burlington community and citizens responded. The company says they are committed to the community and the environment, transforming the future of energy consumption by investing in education about using less energy and providing customers with energy efficient products and services.
“We are so pleased to work with South Burlington to deliver such impressive results and pave the way to a new energy future that is more sustainable,” said Dorothy Schnure, GMP spokesperson. “As an energy transformation company, we love to partner with communities to help them leverage the latest technologies to lower costs, increase their comfort and reduce fossil fuel use. We commend everyone in South Burlington for their commitment and to delivering on this better energy future!”
According to the Georgetown University Energy Prize website, “A city, town or county need not finish first in order to win. Every competing community that demonstrates energy savings over previous years will be winners, providing benefits to members of the community not only today, but for future generations as well.”
Epstein concurs, “There are always more ways to improve and the energy committee will continue to help the city reduce total energy consumption.”
To learn more about the South Burlington’s energy saving efforts, visit energyprize.org.