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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


Bioenergy Initiative Overview & History

Bioenergy Initiative Overview & History

The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative (VBI) is a multi-year program of the VSJF that provides farmers, entrepreneurs, and educators with opportunities to diversify and add value to their operations, reduce fossil fuel use and control energy and feed costs, develop advanced biofuel feedstocks and distribution capacity, and train Vermont's green workforce.

The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative is designed as a component of diversified, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy in the state. The VBI works to leverage existing and build new bioenergy infrastructure and supports these four key priorities:

  • Help Vermont farms, homes and businesses reduce fossil fuel consumption;
  • Support job growth and the rural economy through renewable bioenergy production;
  • Support self-sufficiency on our farms and in our communities;
  • Help the state prepare for and mitigate the effects of peak oil and climate change.

Since, 2003, VSJF has solicited the best proposals for biomass-to-biofuels related projects through a competitive Request for Proposal process, and continues to provide grants and warp-around support to these projects in the form of technical assistance, networking and referrals, and environmental & enterprise accounting tools. Click here to see if any Requests for Proposals for new funding are open.

The VBI is funded by a Congressionally Directed Award from the Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy through the U.S. Department of Energy, various private foundation sources, and the Vermont General Fund. Thus far, Senator Leahy has secured $3.6 million for biofuels research, development, and demonstration projects in Vermont, which has leveraged an additional $2 million in matching cost share funds.

sunflowerOur Approach

The purpose of the VBI is to foster the development of a viable biomass-to-biofuels industry in Vermont that uses local resources to supply a portion of the state’s energy needs. VSJF uses a strategic, statewide market development approach in all our grant making and technical assistance initiatives.

In 2003, the market for biofuels was virtually non-existent in Vermont. The risks posed by the peaking of world oil production and climate change motivated VSJF and its partners to seek out ways of producing some amount of our transportation and heating fuel using an innovative ‘local production for local use’ market development model.  >> Learn More


Biomass to Biofuels

What Is Bioenergy?

The term “Bioenergy” refers to renewable energy fuels and feedstocks derived from biological sources; agricultural biomass, liquid biofuels and biogas to be used for heat, electricity or vehicle fuel. The term is often used synonymously with “biofuels”

 >> Learn More

Energy feedstocks and fuels currently being researched and developed through the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative include:

  • Oilseeds such as sunflower, soybean and canola; for oil (biodiesel and food-grade oil), livestock feed and organic fertilizer
  • Microalgae such as green algae and diatoms; for oil, fuel, feed, food and fertilizer
  • Biomass such as bulk wood pellets and perennial grasses (e.g., switchgrass, big bluestem, reed canarygrass and miscanthus); for pellet fuel combustion and eventually cellulosic ethanol


Field Trials at BorderviewProgram Objectives & Timeline

1) To support the expansion of the supply of and demand for locally produced and commodity level biofuels in Vermont in order to reduce the state’s dependency on petroleum;
2) To promote entrepreneurial activity in the emerging biofuels sector by providing grant funding and technical assistance to new businesses which can or will eventually create livable wage jobs;
3) To stimulate farm-based biofuels and bioenergy production efforts as a means of enhancing farm viability (reducing costs and/or increasing revenue) and local fuel security; and
4) To help educate the public about the benefits of sustainably and locally produced bioenergy feedstocks and fuels.

Click HERE to view the VBI Timeline — Grant Activities to Date.


tractor_elmExplore Vermont Bioenergy Projects

Read more about VBI Grantees and Peer-to-Peer clients. >> Profiles