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Local Government Commission



An Energy Newsletter for Local Governments

Efficiency Vermont Wins Award For Excellence In Government

The Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government announced that Efficiency Vermont — the nation’s first independent, ratepayer-funded energy efficiency utility — has won the “Oscar” of government awards.

Efficiency Vermont - your resource for energy savingsEfficiency Vermont is one of five winners of the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award and will receive a $100,000 grant to support replication of its creative efforts.

In its first three years, the program generated over 99,000 megawatt hours of electricity savings - more power than three hydroelectric dams on Vermont's Winooski River produce in a year, and more than Vermont's second largest city consumes in an entire year. For energy efficiency measures installed in the first three years, Efficiency Vermont is also saving 109,000 gallons of propane, 29 million cubic feet of gas, 123,000 gallons of oil, and 50 million gallons of water annually.

Previously Vermont, like many other states, had set up a fundamental business conflict by requiring its power companies to administer energy efficiency programs designed to help customers use less of their product. With 22 programs, each run by a different power company, Vermont's system was a model of inefficiency for years. By 1999, the power companies' investment in efficiency programs was at an all-time low.

That year, Vermont's Public Service Board contracted with the private, nonprofit Vermont Energy Investment Corporation to deliver energy efficiency services under the name Efficiency Vermont. An independent organization with no role in selling energy, Efficiency Vermont has the statewide responsibility to deliver efficiency services, and one in five Vermont electricity customers has already participated. Those services include: rebates for buying energy efficient products and equipment, energy saving services for low-income Vermonters, and technical and financial assistance for the construction of energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings.

Gail Christopher, Executive Director of the Institute for Government Innovation, says Efficiency Vermont proves that government can enact real structural change in energy conservation. "Instead of trying to fix a system that wasn't working," she said, "Vermont ventured into uncharted territory and found a new solution that has had a substantial and positive impact on Vermonters' lives."

The economic impact has also been notable. One example: the Ethan Allen factory in Orleans teamed up with Efficiency Vermont to install a series of computer-controlled devices to reduce energy consumption by the plant's sawdust-collection system. Ethan Allen estimates these new efficiency measures will save the company $128,000 a year, and help keep the plan open and more than 1,000 workers employed in Essex and Orleans counties.

"By creating an independent entity whose sole mission is energy efficiency, Vermont has empowered its citizens to secure their energy future," said Patricia McGinnis, President and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. "And this small state is lighting the way to a brighter future for those far beyond its borders. Already other states and countries — Maine, Brazil, Australia — are looking to Efficiency Vermont as a model for effective energy savings."

Energy Efficiency Utility was selected from among fifteen finalists and nearly 1,000 applicants. For 16 years, the Innovations in American Government Award has recognized quality and responsiveness at all levels of government and has fostered the replication of innovative approaches to the challenges facing government.

The award - a program of the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government - is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. The program was founded by the Ford Foundation to identify and promote excellence and creativity in the public sector.

The Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, established through an endowment from the Ford Foundation, fosters excellence in governments throughout the world. It serves as a global hub for public-sector innovators through networks, conferences and research.

The Council for Excellence in Government is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to improve government performance by strengthening results-oriented management and creative leadership in the public sector, and to build understanding by focusing public discussion on government's role and responsibilities.

For more information on the Innovations in American Government program and this year’s winners, please visit the Institute for Government Innovation web site (

Contact Information:

The Council for Excellence in Government
Sarah Howe

Energy Efficiency Utility
Barry Lampke
888-921-5990 ext. 1033

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