Municipal Energy Resilience Grant Program
Note: this website will be updated frequently, please check back regularly!
The Municipal Energy Resilience Program (MERP) will provide staff support, application and technical assistance, and funding to help communities become more energy resilient, reduce energy use and operating costs, and curb greenhouse gas emissions by promoting renewable energy, battery storage, electric vehicle charging, weatherization, thermal improvements, fuel switching, and enhanced building comfort in municipal buildings and facilities.
Passed on June 2nd, 2022, Act 172 provides $45 million to promote dependable and sustainable connections to critical municipal services for all Vermonters. Existing buildings owned by cities, towns, fire districts, incorporated villages, and all other governmental incorporated units except for school districts, are eligible for MERP.
This program is being developed by Building and General Services (Agency of Administration) and supported by Vermont’s Regional Planning Commissions, as well as Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Efficiency Vermont, and VECAN.
There are 3 Program Components:
Free Energy Assessment (by State Contractors)
Towns can apply for building assessments of any municipally owned building (except schools). Two levels are available:
Level 1*: Walk-through assessment. Takes ~1.5 hours and qualifies the building for MERP Implementation Funds.
Level 2: Investment grade audit. Takes ~4 hours and qualifies the building for MERP implementation funds and the State’s energy revolving loan program. This will result in information critical for project development and pursuing additional Federal and State funding sources.
Municipal Building Projects
Each municipality can apply for a maximum of $500,000 for building renovation projects regarding weatherization, thermal efficiency, and supplementing or replacing fossil fuel heating systems with more efficient renewable or electric alternatives. Any municipal building that receives an energy assessment through the MERP program is eligible for this funding. These funds can be split across several eligible buildings (as one project and application)
Energy Assessment required to be eligible for these implementation funds.
Community Capacity Grants (optional- Now Open)
These grants provide up to $4,000 to support energy resilience community capacity building.
- (Co)-hire staffing to support grant writing, project development, and/or municipal energy tracking
- Host educational events/energy fairs
- Start an energy committee
- See more here!
*An Efficiency Vermont Walkthrough does not count as a Level 1, because MERP Level 1 walkthroughs will also assess renewable energy generation, storage, and EV charging infrastructure potential. Efficiency VT walkthroughs DO help you understand your municipal building energy baseline and needs which is key for helping you prioritize and develop projects!
General Program timeline:
- Applications for $4,000 community grants open (proximate to Town Meeting Day)
- Applications open for Energy Assessments Spring 2023 TBD
- Applications open for Projects TBD
- January 15th, 2024: Energy Resilience Assessments must be completed
- December 31, 2024: All grant awards must be obligated
- December 31, 2026: All grant awards must be expended
- June 30, 2028: Final reporting submitted.
Checklist (What You Can Do!)
Coordinate and check-in with municipal staff and leadership frequently and often:
- Fill out this survey and get support from CVRPC to prepare your applications!
- There are several different components of this program- CVRPC will continue to reach out to municipalities to help you prepare for the various program phases as they roll out. CVRPC will also provide you with technical assistance for applications, assessments, and implementation.
- Fill out the survey and come to office hours or reach out to Sam Lash at email@example.com
- Build communication between Selectboard, Town Energy Committee/Coordinator, Town Clerk/Manager &other staff, Planning Commission, etc- who will be the primary contact person?
- what projects are high priority?
- start collecting information!
- Meet with your RPC energy planner and keep an eye out for upcoming office hours, workshops, and information sessions.
Create a Municipal Buildings and Facilities Inventory :
- List of municipal buildings, condition, past assessments, any work done on the building, needs, etcs.
- Start tracking your recent and current municipal energy usage- working with a student team from Middlebury College we created an easy-to-use template to do so- interested in trying it out? Let us know!
- Review previous municipal building and facility audits, recommendations and any subsequent implementation (e.g. many towns used ARRA funds in 2011-2 to do audits), have you done an Efficiency Vermont walk through recently?
- Projects you want to pursue (and priorities) e.g. weatherization, fuel switching, renewable energy generation, vehicle charging infrastructure, etc.
Why track Municipal Energy Use?
- Understand annual costs and usage
- Assess potential cost and emissions savings associated with proposed project alternatives
- Identify needs and opportunities; develop grant applications to draw down unprecedented funds to your town!
- Check out webinars:
- upcoming VLCT webinar 4/18 10-11am MERP: Grants for Efficiency Municipal Buildings
- BGS webinar hosted by VECAN (Winter 2022)
- this presentation from the June 14th CVRPC Board of Commissioners Meeting on the text of the bill with FAQ, suggested next steps, etc (program still in design, some aspects subject to change e.g. there is now an option between Level 1 and Level 2 assessments)
- Here is a link to the web page where you can join the BGS mailing list for updates. and BGS’ FAQ!
Municipal Energy Burdens (2019 Efficiency Vermont Report)
Applications will be prioritized based on several criteria including prioritizing projects from communities with the highest energy burdens (see below for more criteria):
What is an Energy Burden?
Household Energy Spending (Electric+Thermal+Transportation Sector) / Household Income
*The report found that Vermont’s average household was at 10% with 12 communities above 15% (up to 20%). Heating (and now increasingly also cooling) needs, aged housing/building infrastructure, and dispersed rural settlement patterns (associated with high transportation costs) are just some of the intersecting contributing factors.
The 2019 Efficiency Vermont White Paper used 2017 data and is undergoing an update; while there are certainly considerations that could improve this methodology and alternative proxies for energy burden, this is currently the most comprehensive and handy report to use as a rough guide. Criteria in addition to energy burden will be considered as well (see below).
Check out some great resources for state and local governments and low-income stakeholders here.
Other criteria consider for prioritization:
- Administrative capacity
- Community Size
- Project Need
Requirements for implementation:
- high speed internet (by project completion)
- ADA Accessible (American Disabilities Act) by the time the project is completed
- Energy Assessment (free as part of program)
- Hazardous materials remediation will not be covered by the grant (although may be available via other programs)
Key Things to Keep in Mind:
- There is no community match required, however this is a great opportunity to use these implementation funds in conjunction with other sources of funding- VLCT is preparing guidance on how communities can best to STACK funding to get major municipal projects funded.
- Book a 15 minute appointment with VLCT for 1:1 help with funding!
- Vermont Federal Funding Guidebook (Dec. 2022)
- CCRPC Funding Database
- The application is still in development- RPCs will be conducting outreach to all towns to support applications; we will be providing updates, workshops, and holding weekly office hours so stay tuned!
- There are several ways you can begin preparing- see above.
- Sign up for Energy Listserv to get the latest and/or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Resources Coming Soon!
For assistance with these and finding other opportunities please reach out to Sam Lash, CVRPC Climate&Energy Planner.
- Municipal Energy Planning
- Regional Energy Planning
- Community and Economic Development
- Regional Planning
- Municipal Planning
- GIS Mapping
- Emergency Management
- Local Food Systems
- Forest Integrity & Forest Stewardship