On April 8, 2011, Blair Hamilton, a leading proponent of energy efficiency in Vermont, died of cancer at the age of 61. Along with his partner Beth Sachs, Hamilton founded Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, a Burlington, Vermont, nonprofit group, in 1986, long before investments in energy efficiency had attracted much attention from utilities or state regulators. VEIC now has 200 employees.
Hamilton’s interest in energy efficiency predated the creation of VEIC. In the early 1980s, Hamilton and Sachs, along with heat-recovery ventilator pioneer David Hansen, created the Memphremagog Group, a small nonprofit agency in Newport, Vermont, that performed seminal research on HRVs.
Hamilton’s obituary in the Burlington Free-Press noted, “He was the driving force in creating Efficiency Vermont, the first ‘energy efficiency utility’ in the country, and helped to start similar entities in other states and countries.”
An obituary in Seven Days, a Burlington weekly, quoted VEIC executive director Scott Johnstone. “The idea of starting a company in 1986 that would focus on lowering the economic and environmental costs of energy was pretty monumental to consider, when the fact was there just wasn’t a whole lot of people who wanted to pay for that, or see that happen at the time,” said Johnstone.“It was just a different time in our world’s history. They along with a few others really brought it forward so that people see that the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use.”