Burlington officials have released a Net Zero Energy Roadmap, a plan that intends to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the Vermont city by 2030.
Burlington has been pursuing green energy policies for several years. In 2014, it became the first city in the country to get all its electricity from renewables. In 2018, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced a Net Zero Energy goal by 2030. On Monday, the mayor and the Burlington Electric Department issued a “roadmap” outlining actions to achieve the goal. Weinberger, a Democrat, calls it a new chapter in the city’s environmental and economic history. “The goal we have set of becoming a Net Zero Energy city by 2030 is the most ambitious local climate goal that we know of. Reaching the goal will require us to completely restructure our transportation and thermal sectors in less than 12 years. Today we take two big steps towards reaching that ambitious goal. One: the Net Zero Energy Roadmap details the path we must take on this timeline. Two: we are releasing more than a dozen new initiatives today, incentives, regulatory actions and operating changes intended to propel immediate progress down this path towards net zero energy.”
The Burlington Electric Department will be one of the key departments to move initiatives forward. General Manager Darren Springer outlined key points in the roadmap and noted the programs they are launching will benefit all ratepayers. “Doing this is a good thing for our customers because if we’re able to use the electric grid more efficiently and effectively it actually can benefit all of our ratepayers. We sell more renewable electricity. We reduce fossil fuel use. We try to drive some of that use to off peak periods when we’re not using as much today and there’s capacity available. It’s a benefit for every single customer at Burlington Electric. We haven’t raised rates since 2009. We want to continue on a pathway to having low rates and this is the pathway to do that.”
Among the crowd were fourth-grade students from Edmunds Elementary school. Ten-year-old Kaya Rubin told the adults that she and her classmates will face the consequences if action is not taken to address the climate crisis. “I love to play outside. In the winter me and my family love to ski. During the summer we love to swim in Lake Champlain and in the fall we love to hike in our mountains. But what will happen to nature if we don’t take care of it? My generation and all the generations that come after mine will not be able to enjoy our beautiful world and have fun in nature like I do with my family and friends. It is very important to me that we are caring about our planet. If we don’t pay attention and act then our Earth will experience much worse climate change. My classmates and I are glad Burlington is trying to make changes before it is too late.”
Mayor Weinberger said he wanted the fourth-graders to attend because they will be young adults in 2030 and their future should inspire current actions. "I hope it urges everyone to action. And everyone includes and it’s not just policy makers who are going to need to think about doing things differently. We are not going to get to this 2030 goal without Burlington residents and businesses considering there are climate goals in our energy future when they’re making investment decisions in their cars and their homes, in their transportation decisions. So hopefully when they are making those decisions think about the fourth graders who will be impacted.”
The new initiatives target the local electric, thermal and ground transportation sectors.