Vermont Energy Profile
RESOURCES AND CONSUMPTION
Vermont has no fossil fuel resources but does have minor renewable energy potential. The Connecticut River, which defines the state’s eastern border with New Hampshire, and Lake Champlain, along the western border with New York, offer hydroelectric power resources. Vermont’s hills and mountains cover most of the state and offer wind power potential, while dense forests in the state's northeast offer biomass resources for home heating and wood-fired electricity generation. Vermont’s total energy consumption is the lowest in the nation, and per capita energy consumption is among the lowest. The transportation and residential sectors are the state’s leading energy consumers.
Vermont ranks last among the 50 states in petroleum product demand and receives supply from neighboring states and Canada. Because it has no air quality non-attainment areas, Vermont allows the statewide use of conventional motor gasoline. (Most states require the use of special fuel blends in non-attainment areas.)
Vermont, along with much of the U.S. Northeast, is vulnerable to distillate fuel oil shortages and price spikes during the winter months due to high demand for home heating. Nearly three-fifths of Vermont households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating. In January and February 2000, distillate fuel oil prices in the Northeast rose sharply when extreme winter weather increased demand unexpectedly and hindered the arrival of new supply, as frozen rivers and high winds slowed the docking and unloading of barges and tankers. In July 2000, in order to reduce the risk of future shortages, the President directed the U.S. Department of Energy to establish the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve. The Reserve gives Northeast consumers adequate supplies for about 10 days, the time required for ships to carry heating oil from the Gulf of Mexico to New York Harbor. The Reserve's storage terminals are located in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and Groton and New Haven, Connecticut.
With the exception of Hawaii, Vermont has the lowest natural gas consumption in the United States. Supply is imported primarily for residential use through a small-capacity pipeline from Canada.
COAL, ELECTRICITY, AND RENEWABLES
Vermont is one of only two states in the nation with no coal-fired power plants; the other is Rhode Island. Vermont generates a higher percentage of its electricity from nuclear power than any other state. The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant typically accounts for about three-fourths of total electricity generation.
Most of Vermont’s remaining generation is produced from renewable energy sources, largely from hydroelectric power and fuel wood. Vermont’s numerous small-scale hydroelectric power projects typically account for about one-fifth of state electricity production. Nonhydroelectric renewable energy sources, including wood, wood waste, and wind, account for between 5 and 10 percent of state electricity production. In March 2008, Vermont adopted a renewable energy goal to produce 25 percent of the energy consumed in the state from renewable sources, in particular from the state’s farms and forests, by 2025.
Vermont’s per capita residential electricity use is low compared with the rest of the nation, in part because demand for air-conditioning is minimal during the mild summer months and only a small share of households use electricity for home heating.