In 1999 the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB), the Vermont Legislature and the state's electric utilities determined that a conflict of interest was inherent in the manner that energy efficiency services were delivered to the people of Vermont. Administered by electric utilities, these services were also identified as sufficiently diverse as to present inequitable availability of energy-saving opportunities among service territories throughout the state.
Interested parties agreed that energy efficiency services would best be provided by an independent organization. The PSB put out a request for proposals for the creation and administration of a statewide energy efficiency utility; an entity without precedence in the state or in the nation. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation responded, and won a three-year contract to administer the energy efficiency utility, under the name Efficiency Vermont. www.efficiencyvermont.com
By the close of the contract period, Efficiency Vermont's services to businesses and households in every county of the state had reduced annual energy use by 98,050 MWh, which reflects a lifetime economic value of $66 million. These savings prevented power plant emissions of carbon dioxide by more than one million tons of carbon dioxide, 1,343 tons of oxides of nitrogen, 4,383 tons of sulphur dioxide and 361 tons of particulates. These results were achieved at an energy-saving rate 52% lower than what utilities would have paid to purchase this energy on the wholesale supply market. These energy savings will last an average of 14.4 years.
The success of Efficiency Vermont has resulted in a two-year contract renewal, as well as interest by other states in replicating all or part of the Vermont model, and widespread recognition of this pioneering approach, including numerous awards from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of the Governor of Vermont, American Consortium for an Energy Efficient Economy, and a Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Award for Innovation in American Government.