Code Moves in Vermont and Maine

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The Northeast energy efficiency plans address existing building stock and a 10-year energy independence plan.

In early March, Montpelier’s voters approved a charter change that will allow the city to set energy efficiency standards for existing residential and commercial rental properties. Proposed by city hall, the measure passed 928-896.

The city wants to have zero carbon emissions by 2030. Getting the existing building stock to a higher level of energy efficiency is key to that plan.

“Forty percent of Montpelier’s housing units are rentals,” Mayor Anne Watson said. “And that is … such a tough situation when thinking about energy, because really renters have no agency when it comes to making improvements to the assets of their home. In regards to prospective property owners, Watson said, “You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing the gas mileage. And so, why would you buy a house without knowing a standardized energy profile?”

Since the measure only passed by 32 votes, not everyone was fully on board with the idea. A local real estate agent claimed the city council didn’t share any proposed policies or ordinances, nor was there public discussion on the issue. The Mayor said city council will not rush the development of its ordinance, and went on to say city officials would like to financially incentivize energy efficiency improvements for homeowners and landlords.

In Maine, a bipartisan bill that was first proposed in early February gained significant momentum at the end of April and passed both chambers of the State’s legislature by early May. The two-paragraph bill calls for the State Energy Office to adopt a 10-year energy independence plan, including conservation and renewable energy strategies, so that the state can become a net exporter of energy by 2030. The plan must include a comprehensive set of actionable policies to achieve energy independence.

The State will have to get working on that immediately, because LD 658 demands a report be delivered to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology by December 31, 2019.