Since 2003, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund has provided funding for bioenergy demonstration projects, which evolved into the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative in 2008.
VSJF was a key partner in developing the Vermont Community Energy Dashboard in collaboration with the Vermont Energy Action Network and has convened diverse stakeholders in order to advance alignment with agriculture-based renewable energy and wood heat businesses and organizations.
Our business assistance services have recently expanded to include the renewable energy sector and will help businesses in this sector grow and create more jobs for Vermonters while also bringing positive benefits to our environment and communities.
Our impact on the renewable energy sector will also be met through our collaboration with the Vermont Council on Rural Development to implement the Vermont Climate Economy Initiative, positioning Vermont as the state where climate change and resource renewal can spark business growth and economic development.
Indications of Progress in Vermont
- The Vermont Department of Public Service reports:
- There are 3,751 clean energy companies in Vermont as of 2017.
- There were 19,000 jobs connected to Vermont’s clean and renewable energy sector in 2017, up 29% from baseline year of 2013.
- Energy efficiency jobs have increased more than other clean technologies, from 7,800 jobs in 2014 to 10,610 in 2017.
- There has been a 60.5% increase in installed MW capacity in Vermont between 2010 (223.5MW) and 2015 (565.2MW), primarily due to the rapid increase in solar installations.
- Certificates of Public Good issued by the Public Service Board have increased from 377 in 2011 to 1,676 in 2016.
Receiving grant funding through the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative from the U.S. Department of Energy was instrumental in the Vermont Farmers Food Center being able to afford to install a renewable energy biomass boiler in farmers’ hall. This installation, coupled with an onsite solar array, will enable us to move forward on our goal to create a sustainable, resilient, and locally sourced energy footprint for our facility. We plan to turn local storm-damaged trees and meadow edges into a local source of fuel for the biomass boiler.
VSJF Program and Service Results
At the beginning of the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative (2008), Vermont had very limited experience with the research, feedstocks, production processes, industry networks, and many other factors necessary to develop biodiesel and grass/mixed fiber pellet industries. Our investments in feasibility analyses, research and development, technology and demonstration projects, and education and outreach resources for various bioenergy feedstocks have created a solid foundation from which future efforts in Vermont and other rural parts of the country can be developed.
The Community Energy Dashboard was developed to help communities shape their energy future through interactive tools to set goals, track progress, map actions, share stories, and hear from trusted neighbors. The Dashboard helps translate Vermont’s goal of 90% Renewable Energy by 2050 into achievable local action across all energy sectors—efficiency, heat, electricity, and transportation. Development of the Community Energy Dashboard was in partnership with Energy Action Network and based off the Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont which VSJF developed and managed from 2009 to 2016.
- Between Oct 17, 2016 and September 30, 2017, the number of users has increased 378.9% to 7,700, with 15,258 sessions, and 83,527 page views.
VSJF facilitates the Vermont Climate Economy Business Network which provides renewable energy businesses with opportunities to expand their networks to include other types of businesses committed to climate economy innovation in Vermont.
- Formed in 2017, the network will build community, expand opportunities for collaboration, and promote business growth to create quality jobs for Vermonters.
VSJF manages Accel-VT—a business accelerator—which provides startup support, business planning, mentorship, and access to capital for entrepreneurs committed to climate economy innovation.
- The first cohort of selected businesses will work together (winter 2017-2018) to solve challenges associated with distributed renewable energy integration with the electric grid while gaining industry expertise, access to growth capital, and membership to the Vermont Climate Economy Business Network.
- In 2017, VSJF expanded our business coaching and peer to peer advising to help Vermont renewable energy companies grow their businesses and provide more jobs for Vermonters.
When my grandfather came to our farm back in the 1930s he came with horses and he grew oats to feed those horses. Those horses were his power that took him to town and pulled his plow. And now we’re growing an oil crop, which is our power. It’s just a different time, a different technology, but it’s the same thing all over again.