Driven by policy, technology, customer demand, and markets, the U.S. energy sector is in transition. State and local electric grids are becoming much more dependent on distributed energy resources, including generation, storage, demand response, and efficiency. To ensure cost-effective reliability and equitable distribution of clean energy, these resources in turn require better communication and integrated planning coordination among customers, companies, local, regional and state planners, community health experts and decision-makers.
In 2015, the Energy Action Network (EAN) developed the Vermont Energy Dashboard - a powerful suite of online data tools - in partnership with Vermont utilities, public agencies, and other EAN members. The current version has generated strong in-state support and earned national accolades. A 2019 Municipal Energy Survey conducted by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns revealed that approximately 60 towns representing about half of Vermont's population have utilized the Dashboard. Not surprisingly, multiple states and cities have requested the ability to use it outside of Vermont, and the need has been recognized that expanding the Dashboard to other states and communities is the only way to fully realize its benefit to society as a whole.
With Dartmouth's partnership and funding, we can expand the community energy dashboard in a way that facilitates broader community access and expands the data collected, so as to include population health, education, income, and other key parameters that link energy choices and cost, with overall economic benefits. These data sets exist at Dartmouth within the Geisel School of Medicine, but have yet to be overlaid with community energy mapping.
The benefit of joining these data sets and expanding their coverage beyond VT to the rest of the United States, is enhancing local decision making, choice, and participation in energy transitions, as well as, analyzing the effects in a more granular way, of energy choice's effect on society.