A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists released this week suggests that $7 million of public investment to encourage homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to make energy efficiency improvements, install solar panels, or invest in other types of clean energy projects would leverage $148 million in private sector investments over 15 years. “Vermont has made tremendous strides in developing clean energy and creating jobs in a high growth industry,” said Steve Clemmer, energy research director at UCS and lead author of the analysis. “Expanding clean energy financing in Vermont is one way for the state to continue its transition to a clean energy economy, while lowering energy costs and ensuring consumers earn a sizable return on their initial investment.”

Modeled on the experience of clean energy lending programs in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and other states, the study says modest public investments would

  • Support the creation of nearly 50 megawatts of new solar and community wind power projects — enough clean power for nearly 13,000 homes.
  • Save homes and businesses more than $14 million per year on their electricity bills due to energy efficiency investments.
  • Reduce the state’s carbon emissions by more than 111,500 tons per year — equivalent to removing 21,300 cars from Vermont roads.

“Combining existing state clean energy programs with more robust private sector funding can be a more predictable and sustainable route to achieving large scale deployment of solar and renewable goals in the Northeast states,” said Mike Trahan, co-director of NESEMC, an alliance of solar and clean energy groups operating in the Northeast and funded through a cooperative award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. “A good example is the Connecticut Green Bank that has generated nearly $1 billion in alternative energy investments since 2012 with 90 percent of that coming from private investment. It has helped create almost 8,300 state jobs and reduced carbon emissions by 1.4 million tons.”

Andrea Colnes, executive director of Energy Action Network in Vermont, tells Vermont Business News, “Taking Vermont’s energy transition to the next level is all about building market demand. Using limited amounts of public funding to leverage abundant private capital into markets so consumers can lower energy costs is a win-win approach to supporting the state’s transition to a clean energy economy.”