Press Release: Reaching Energy Equity Goals with GreenSavingSmart
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelsey Gibb, Capstone Community Action
Financial and Energy Coaching Initiative Statewide Team Lead
Main Line: 802-479-1053
Reaching Energy Equity Goals with GreenSavingSmart
New Program Maps the Way to Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings for Eligible Vermonters
(Barre, VT) – Capstone Community Action launches GreenSavingSmart, a new service connecting financial coaching with energy savings for low- and moderate-income Vermonters to ensure that a cleaner, greener Vermont is something everyone can be a part of.
Vermonters face multiple barriers to accessing and affording heating, transportation and home energy improvements. Understanding the complexity of programs, eligibility criteria, and incentives can be an overwhelming experience. GreenSavingSmart provides a pathway to access rebates, incentives, and services available – in order to realize cost savings and carbon reduction.
“The GreenSavingSmart program implements practical approaches to help more Vermonters access programs and services that use clean energy and save them money. The program moves our state forward on both climate action and greater equity” noted Senator Christopher Bray (Addison County), Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Energy.
The new program is designed to guide eligible participants through Vermont’s services and programs provided by energy efficiency utilities, financial institutions, local utility companies, fuel providers, and others. This initiative, spearheaded by Capstone Community Action (Capstone) in Barre, will be delivered through the Vermont Community Action Partnership (VCAP), including BROC in Southwestern VT, Capstone in Central VT, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) in Northwestern VT, Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA), and Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA). This network comprises the largest anti-poverty organization in Vermont.
In one-on-one sessions, GreenSavingSmart coaches provide in-depth services to create a road map for reaching financial and energy goals. Eligible program participants can attend a virtual webinar series with GreenSavingSmart coaches to explore credit building strategies, learn about energy efficiency, and consider small and large steps to reduce their carbon footprints. “Addressing barriers to financial and energy security with GreenSavingSmart is an exciting new element to the climate justice agenda for the Vermont Community Action Partnership,” said Sue Minter, Capstone’s Executive Director. “Expanding upon our mission of building ladders out of poverty, this program further champions that energy upgrades must be for everyone,” she said.
Low- and moderate-income Vermonters spend more of their income on energy expenses than their higher income neighbors. This “energy burden”, a household’s energy expenses divide by its income, is at the heart of this energy inequity and presents a barrier for Vermont to meet its climate goals. According to the Energy Action Network’s (EAN) Progress Report for Vermont (2021), the average town energy burden ranges between 6% and 20% with a stark difference between low- and high-income Vermonters. To illustrate, Vermonters making less than $27,800 a year have an average heating and electricity energy burden of 18% compared to the 2.7% felt by those making over $118,000 per year.
Vermont’s older housing stock creates additional challenges to reducing Vermonters’ energy use. Weatherization is a first step in helping Vermonters reduce carbon emissions and energy bills. Transportation presents additional energy use challenges in rural Vermont, from long distant commuting, to the soaring cost of gas and maintaining aging vehicles. Coaches can connect Vermonters with critical programs such as MileageSmart, helping Vermonters upgrade from older gas vehicles to electric vehicles (EV), and help utilize rebates, tax credits, and utility company incentives that provide relief to personal budgets.
The majority of funding for the GreenSavingSmart pilot program is provided by the State of Vermont, Senate Committee on Natural Resources, and is managed by the Department of Children and Families, Office of Economic Opportunity. Additional funds for outreach and client support have been donated by VSECU. Rob Miller, CEO of VSECU commented, “the work and mission of the GreenSavingSmart program aligns closely with our work to improve quality of life with financial wellbeing and environmental sustainability. We are happy to provide support and work with clients alongside GSS coaches.”
To find out if you qualify, fill out an intake form or visit Capstone’s GreenSavingSmart site for more information: www.greensavingsmart.org
Capstone Community Action was founded in 1965 and works to overcome poverty by serving people in crisis and creating economic opportunity for people and communities. Capstone’s programs include emergency food, heat assistance, housing counseling and homelessness intervention, savings and credit coaching, business counseling, workforce development, home weatherization, transportation access, and child and family development programs in Early Head Start/Head Start. We serve nearly 13,000 people through these programs each year. www.capstonevt.org