Financing and Funding
Financing and Funding
While most of the energy initiatives you undertake are cost-effective, resulting in a profitable return on investment, selected projects and initiatives may require modest start-up funds to implement and sustain. Securing funds and resources needed to undertake projects may make your Select Board more receptive to suggested energy-saving campaigns, methods, and policies.
There are a wide variety of potential funding sources available to support local efforts. Below, find some suggestions on where you might start to look for those start-up funds from three general locations:
Committee representatives are encouraged to explore the listed contacts for additional ideas of possible funding sources.
Your local municipal budget – Municipalities have some money to direct toward important community initiatives. Put together a proposal and work with your Select Board to garner local funding support. Demonstrating cost and energy savings to the town will help you “sell” these budget requests to townspeople and officials. Requests for specific project and general committee support from the municipality should be made in late fall for an early spring budget process. Most municipal budgets are passed at March Town Meeting (on the first Tuesday in March) for the new fiscal year which begins the following July.
Clean Energy Development Fund – In 2005, the Vermont General Assembly established the VEDF to promote the development and deployment of cost-effective and environmentally sustainable electric power resources – primarily with respect to renewable energy resources and the use of combined heat and power technologies – for the long-term benefit of Vermont electric customers. Funds will soon be available to support such initiatives as Audits and Renovations of Town Buildings and Homes, Promoting Efficient New Buildings, Compact Fluorescent Bulb Sales, or Smart Town Street Lighting. Contact Andrew Perchlik (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-828-4017) at the Vermont Public Service Department’s Clean Energy Development Fund. Visit the Clean Energy Development Fund web site for more information here.
Regional Planning Commissions – Regional Planning Commissions (RPC) provide resources and technical assistance on a variety of planning and sustainability topics. Local committees should make their RPC aware of planning and project activities, and in selected cases ask for assistance in gathering regional energy information. In addition, RPCs might help find additional resources to advance projects and initiatives that meet shared regional goals. Visit www.vapda.org to find the RPC for your community.
Department of Housing and Community Development – Provides financial and technical assistance to municipalities to identify and address local needs and priorities in the areas of housing, economic development, public facilities, and public services for persons of lower income. One of their main goals is to promote efficient new buildings. Reach them at 802-828-3211 or 800-622-4553. Or, visit their funding and incentives page.
Renewable Energy Resource Center: Solar and Small Wind Incentives Program – RERC’s incentives program helps accelerate and increase market demand for high quality solar and small wind systems. For more information visit the RERC web site.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development– USDA administers a number of loan and grant programs of which communities in VT may be eligible. Learn more at their web site.
U.S. Department of Energy – Offering funding opportunities to municipalities, businesses and others for renewable energy research and development projects. Visit the DOE web site for more information.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England – The Healthy Communities Grant Program is EPA New England’s main competitive grant program to work directly with communities to reduce environmental risks, protect and improve human health and improve the quality of life. More information on this annual grant can be found here.
Vermont Agency of Transportation: Safe Routes to Schools – Grants totaling $1 million annually for the next five years will be awarded to selected schools by the AOT. Money will be available for education and encouragement programs, as well as to help fund infrastructure improvements including building sidewalks and paths and improvements to road crossings. Contact Abby Mattera at 802-598-8651 or at email@example.com. Visit the AOT web site to find out more.
Go Vermont Grassroots Grants for Energy Committees –The VTrans Public Transit Section is offering grants to municipalities to assist in building a statewide outreach and advocacy network for the Go Vermont Program (www.connectingcommuters.org). VTrans will provide a $500 grant to participating municipal energy committees. For more information click here.
Ben & Jerry’s Foundation – The B&J Foundation offers competitive grants to nonprofit, grassroots organizations that facilitate progressive social change by addressing the underlying conditions of societal and environmental problems and lead to new ways of thinking and acting. B&J grants may be used for a program like the Way to Go! Commuter Challenge. Ben & Jerry’s also has a program called “Community Action Team” support. CAT support is less than $1,000 of funding and is decided by Ben & Jerry’s employees who live in the area of interest. This pool of funding offers great starter funds to launch local energy projects. Call 802-846-1500 or visit The Ben and Jerry’s Foundation for more information.
New England Grassroots Environment Fund – NEGEF offers a small grants program designed to foster and give voice to grassroots environmental initiatives. They provide grants of up to $2,500 to fuel civic engagement, local activism, and social change for community-directed projects. NEGEF grants may be put toward a Community Energy Group or Commuter Choices. For more information, call 802-223-4622, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.grassrootsfund.org.
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation – The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is a non-profit public charity that funds community efforts along the east central border of Vermont and Northern New Hampshire. For Vermont communities in the southeast of the state seeking support for local energy projects, look into NHCF’s community-based giving in the Upper Valley region. Find out more about the NHCF’s Upper Valley Region giving here.
Patagonia – Patagonia funds environmental work and offers grants to organizations that work on the root causes of problems, approach issues with a commitment to long-term change, and build a strong base of citizen support. For more information visit www.patagonia.com.
Vermont Community Foundation – A statewide, non-sectarian public charity that builds and manages charitable funds. Check out VCF’s web site for more information on their competitive grant rounds that could support town energy committee work. Call 802- 388-3355, email email@example.com, or visit www.vermontcf.org for more information.
Kickstarter.com is the largest online crowdfunding platform in the world. Posting projects here allows people from the all over the world to financially support your energy and climate action project.
Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding platform.
Vermont Planning Information Center – Grant Funding
Obtaining grants is one important way to fund planning and implementation projects. Each grant, generally, has goals and minimum requirements and may take the form of technical assistance from a specialist or provide straight funding for a community to use on a specific project. They may be financed by private foundations or government entities. Some require matching funds while others do not.
Efficiency and renewable energy businesses in Vermont offer great potential in-kind support opportunities. Creative partnerships with businesses that provide consulting, technical support, renewable energy system installation, and other services could help bring a local project to fruition. Search for renewable energy businesses and experts at Renewable Energy Vermont’s web site.
Local businesses in your community, including banks, grocery stores, and bookstores often provide funding for local initiatives. Contact businesses in your community and ask about their giving.