In one form or another, it is often said that to be successful you need a good plan. Desired outcomes rarely just happen by accident, but are the result of careful considerations that address both opportunities and obstacles. Planning for a low carbon and sustainable energy future is no different.
Laying the foundation for greater investment in renewable energy, innovative transportation and land use policies that require less energy while limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and establishing conservation and efficiency initiatives starts with planning. At the local level this involves the municipal plan, and at the state level the statutorily required Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP).
In order to help communities navigate the planning process and develop comprehensive energy plans, the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC), along with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT), created two important energy planning tools:
- “The Energy Planning and Implementation Guide for Vermont Municipalities” is a thorough overview of how a town can pursue strong energy policies at the municipal level and raise residents’ awareness about energy issues through outreach and education.The guide is an excellent primer for those who are not only interested in planning from an energy perspective, but for those who want to know more about the ins and outs of town planning in general. Upon reading the guide, it is easier to see how the two are intimately interconnected, and why it is important to get involved in your town’s planning process.
- “Communities Tackling Vermont’s Energy Challenges“ is an excellent complementary piece to the planning guide, providing case study snapshots that can give communities a sense of what is possible and how other towns have utilized strong planning to pursue important energy initiatives.
At the state level, the “Comprehensive Energy Plan“ is Vermont’s blueprint for energy planning, updated every five years with each iteration projecting out over at least a 20 year period. Reading the CEP in conjunction with the two guides above can provide an overall context to the energy planning that your community undertakes.
Aligning town goals with state goals may also open up funding opportunities or collaborative efforts with the state that would otherwise not be available. Because the CEP provides a wealth of energy information, it can bring to the attention of a community important ideas, resources, and policies. Also, knowing the goals laid out in the CEP is important in order to hold state officials accountable, and ensure that they are holding true to the objectives established in the CEP.
In addition, the Public Service Department recently completed a “Total Energy Study” which aims to identify the policies and technology-related options for achieving the goals laid out in the Comprehensive Energy Plan. These may spark ideas for community solutions as well, and the study provides an in-depth look at the challenge ahead. The TES will be a foundation upon which Vermont builds its next Comprehensive Energy Plan in 2015. The Public Service Department will be seeking legislative and public input on how best to move forward, based on the results of this robust analysis and more. Stay tuned for all the details on that public process but plan to participate. Help ensure Vermont crafts a forward-looking, strategic and ambitious blueprint for needed action.
These energy planning materials are also located in the Publications section.