Vermont, Upper Austria partner to promote biomass heating

By Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development | October 31, 2013

The leaders of the state of Vermont and the state of Upper Austria have signed an agreement to collaborate on the promotion of biomass heating. The agreement was announced at the annual Renewable Energy Vermont conference in Burlington, Vt.

Vermont and Upper Austria are both recognized leaders in the development and promotion of biomass heat as a local and renewable heating source. Nearly half of Upper Austria’s heating demand is currently met through renewable sources, with a goal of 100 percent renewable heat by the year 2030. For its part, Vermont displaces over 40 million gallons of heating oil annually through the use of biomass fuels, and is a leader in the deployment of biomass for schools and public buildings.

“Vermont has been a long-standing leader in North America in the promotion of biomass heating, but there is the potential for us to do much more,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. “Biomass is a local and renewable way to heat our homes and businesses that promotes job creation and economic development. This collaboration with Upper Austria will help us to learn from their success, and in turn show them how Vermont has thoughtfully and carefully developed our own biomass resources.”

The memorandum of understanding provides for cooperation between the two states in the areas of biomass heating policy development, scientific and technological cooperation, and education and training. Specific activities could include jointly-organized workshops on biomass best practices; exchange visits by policy and industry experts between the two states; and development of business opportunities for the sale of biomass equipment as well as technical expertise.

Christiane Egger, Deputy Manager of OÖ Energiesparverband in Upper Austria, said, “I have visited Vermont several times and was impressed by the range of the biomass and energy efficiency projects. I therefore look forward to our new cooperation which will help us on both sides of the Atlantic in creating green jobs and helping the environment.”

“Responsible development of our biomass heating resource is a winning energy strategy for Vermont,” said Adam Sherman of the Biomass Energy Resource Center at Vermont Energy Investment Corp. “It reduces our dependence on foreign oil, enhances the value of our working landscape, and supports local job creation.”

“Vermont has an aggressive goal of being 90% renewable by the year 2050,” said REV Executive Director Gabrielle Stebbins. “Biomass heat is a key component to helping us achieve this challenging, but vital goal. This partnership will help us build on the success that Upper Austria has seen.”

The agreement will be in effect for five years.