by Don Rendall, CEO, Vermont Gas Systems The Holiday Season is a time to say thank you, to reflect on the year ending and to look forward to the promise of the New Year to come. At Vermont Gas, we want to thank our 51,000 customers for your loyalty and trust. To our new communities, Middlebury and Vergennes, and the nearly 1,000 new Vermont families and businesses who chose Vermont Gas in 2017, thank you for welcoming us this year. We’re excited about the future and more committed than ever to delivering a superior customer experience. What that means for you is safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy, easy and convenient service, and efficient ways to save money and reduce emissions.
Vermont Gas customers have chosen the most affordable energy service around. Apples-to-apples, customers who choose Vermont Gas service are paying 20% less than their neighbors using heating oil prices, and 50% less than those heating with propane.
Our commitment to customer value is much bigger than dollars alone. We all share an environmental imperative to build a clean-energy future, including deep reductions in carbon emissions that cause climate change. Our team is dedicated to giving Vermont families and businesses the tools to help achieve Vermont’s carbon reduction goals. We are proud members of Vermont’s Climate Pledge Coalition and determined to do our part to achieve our nation’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Every Vermont family who chooses Vermont Gas over oil reduces their home carbon emissions by almost 30%. Choosing a high-efficiency gas furnace or boiler can reduce energy use by 20% -- cutting both costs and carbon emissions. Adding a smart thermostat can save 5% more. Our energy experts can identify even more savings through our comprehensive home energy audits. Choosing Vermont Gas to service your gas heating system will also keep those savings coming year after year.
EcoGas, our renewable natural gas service, will bring our customers the opportunity to further reduce and even eliminate their home carbon footprint. Completing our extension to Addison County last spring made possible our unique partnership with Vanguard Renewables, Middlebury College and the Goodrich farm to turn farm and food waste into locally produced renewable gas.
We’re proud to bring these choices and opportunities to our customers. We’re prouder still of what our customers have achieved – tens of millions in annual cost savings and some 300,000 metric tonnes of carbon avoided every single year, and counting. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s carbon avoidance equivalent to more than 70 wind turbines.
During this holiday season, we’re also thinking about those who depend on the support of their communities. Strong communities take care of each other in many different ways. Vermont Gas is pleased to offer a low-income discount to qualifying customers, and our employee-led CARE team supported more than 40 community organizations in 2017, donating $96,000 and hundreds of hours of volunteer support.
For all of 2017’s achievements, we still have miles to go to make Vermont more affordable and shrink our carbon footprint. Our Vermont Gas mission in 2018 will be to create more choices and opportunities for our customers, new and old, to save more money and cut more carbon. We see a bright future ahead. We are focused on making next year the most successful ever.
Enjoy the holidays. Happy New Year.