The Rev2019 Conference took place last week in Burlington, Vermont just as the foliage reached its peak coloring. The transformation of the region’s landscape paralleled the theme of the conference which focused on the energy transformation of the region and more specifically Vermont’s role in this shift. The two day conference covered several topics on energy transformation including how we redefine efficiency, grid modernization, renewable heating technologies, academic research- including the keynote address from Rocky Mountain Institute’s CEO, Jules Kortenhorst, and regional initiatives including an armchair conversation with New England energy regulators, the Western Climate Initiative, and the Transportation Climate Initiative. These regional actions have been a large piece of the puzzle in terms of transforming our energy portfolios.
The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) utilizes a similar market based cap and trade program, to reduce GHG emissions, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) here on the east coast. However, RGGI limits the market sector to electricity specifically. During the panel discussion, WCI presented opportunities for states to join the initiative and focus on additional sectors that are not covered through RGGI and TCI. It was noted that this is the ideal time for states to join as newer regional collaborations are in the planning process. To date, WCI in total has hosted 36 auctions since 2011 and raised over $23.6 billion in proceeds.
In his Keynote address, Jules Kortenhorst presented a hopeful outlook on the future of transforming the world’s energy resources. It was noted that technologies and markets are changing rapidly and the cost of developing renewable energy is now more economical than the development of new natural gas infrastructure. These emerging markets are also shifting the way other countries are developing new energy technologies as well. China for instance is looking to have five million electric vehicles on the road by 2020. India is investing heavily in solar energy. And all of these emerging technologies have a place in the market. In order to reach a zero carbon future, we need to utilize every renewable energy technology and opportunity.