Press Release

Welch and Protect our Winters Host Event Unveiling Energizing our Communities Act with Vermont Outdoor Recreation Leaders at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center 

Apr 26, 2024

WILLISTON, VT – Yesterday, Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, joined Protect Our Winters (POW) and Vermont outdoor recreation leaders to celebrate Earth Week and unveil the Energizing Our Communities Act, legislation to support local communities that host Department of Energy (DOE)-supported transmission projects. The program will help build trust between local governments and transmission developers so our nation can sustainably increase transmission capacity, which is crucial to a national clean energy transition.  

The Energizing Our Communities Act invests revenue from certain federal Department of Energy loan programs back into communities, including tribal governments, who host transmission infrastructure. The bill aims to support national transmission grid build-out by ensuring communities see the benefits of transmission at the ground level. U.S. Representative Annie Kuster (D-N.H.-02) has introduced companion legislation in the House. 

“Tourism and outdoor recreation drive Vermont’s economy, bringing people from all over the world to enjoy the splendor of the Green Mountain State. Vermont’s world-class snow sports generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year, boosting local economies and creating jobs. Winter is a crucial part of Vermont’s outdoor economy, but our winters are changing with the climate—folks can already see their winters getting warmer and snow levels declining. Saving our winter economy and culture depends on our ability to implement clean energy technologies that help mitigate the impacts of climate change—something Protect Our Winters has championed,” said Senator Welch. “The Energizing Our Communities Act provides communities with the tools they need to mitigate the impacts of climate change to save Vermont’s outdoor traditions and protect our winters for future generations.” 

Senator Welch was joined by Sam Masters, Protect Our Winters; Ashley LaPorte, Vice President of Purpose & Impact, Burton; Blake Keogh, Athlete; John Atkinson, Executive Director of Catamount Outdoor Family Center; and Ted Brady, Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. 

The Energizing Our Communities Act is endorsed by Protect our Winters (POW); REI, VELCO: Vermont Electric Power Company; Grid Action; Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT); National League of Cities (NCL); National Association of Counties (NACO); Pathway Power; and Burton. Read endorser statements

Generating close to $400 million in retail sales in 2022, Vermont’s highly diversified outdoor recreation sector boosted local economies across the state. Snow activities consistently top the list of Vermont’s grossing industries, with $244 million in revenues in 2022. Vermont’s outdoor recreation sector contributed 4.6% to the state’s economy last year, ranking the state second behind Hawaii in terms of its contribution to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP). Outdoor economic activity in Vermont grew the workforce to 15,000 workers in 2022 by 12.4%, the highest percentage growth in the country. 

Learn more about the Energizing Our Communities Act