Progress Report on Vermont's Transition to Electric Lawn Care Equipment

Electric Utility Incentives for Commercial and Residential Electric Lawn Mowers

All seventeen of Vermont’s electric utilities are now offering incentives for both residential and commercial electric lawn mowers under Vermont’s Tier III Renewable Energy Standard.  Links to all these incentives can be found on the Incentives page of the Mow Electric website. These incentives have both helped increase consumers’ awareness of the availability electric lawn care equipment and also made this equipment more affordable.

E-Lawn Care Equipment Industry Developments

Gravely introduces their first commercial E-mower:

In 2021, the Gravely company, one of the country’s oldest commercial lawn mower manufacturers introduced the Pro-Turn EV.  Using the same chassis as their gas-powered zero-turn mower, the Pro-Turn EV has the first “swappable” battery system for a commercial mower.

Toro introduces their first commercial E-mower:

In 2022, the Toro company introduced their first battery-electric Revolution commercial mower line which includes the Grandstand stand-on mowers (48”, 52” and 60”) and Z-Master zero-turn line (48”, 52” and 60”)

The other two manufacturers of commercial E-mowers that have been around for over a decade are Mean Green Products (recently acquired by DR Power Equipment/GENERAC) and Greenworks.

As shown on the Equipment page of the Mow Electric! website, there are now over twenty four manufacturers of residential E-walk-behind mowers and related “chore tools”.  These are now available at both ”big-box” and local hardware stores.

Act 172 (H-518)

In 2022, the VT legislature passed Act 172 (House Bill 518).  In addition to providing grants for improving the energy efficiency of municipal buildings, this act also establishes the Municipal Energy Loan Program, administered by BGS, to provide financing to municipalities for equipment replacement (e.g. commercial lawn mowers), studies, weatherization, construction of improvements affecting the use of energy resources, the implementation of energy efficiency and conservation measures, and the use of renewable resources.  The Mow Electric Campaign is working to ensure that the purchase of commercial E-mowers will be eligible for these low interest loans.

Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS) Directed to Purchase Electric Lawn Care Equipment

To encourage State Government to help meet Vermont’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, a provision was inserted into Vermont’s Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations Act (Sec. E.112) that directs “the Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS), starting on October 1, 2020 to only purchase, lease or acquire battery-electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and trimmers, provided a functional equivalent is available”.

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Commercial and Residential E-Lawn Care Equipment

As demonstrated on the interactive “Life-Cycle Cost and CO2 Comparison” spreadsheets on the Mow Electric website, commercial E-mowers in Vermont are operated for an average of 600 hours per year (25 hrs/week for 23 weeks).  Since commercial E-mowers save approximately $5 to $10 per hour in operating costs, each E-mower has the potential to save their owners about $3,000 to $6,000 annually. A commercial conventional mower also consumes approximately 1 gal of fuel per hour, so every commercial E-mower operated for 600 hours annually saves approximately 600 gallons of fossil fuel, and avoids the release of approximately 12,000 lbs (6 tons) of CO2 (@ 20 lbs/CO2/gal).

While there were just two commercial battery-electric lawn mowers operating in Vermont in 2016, during the 2022 mowing season there are at least 30 being operated by  lawn care contractors, a few farms, one homeowners association, Shelburne Farms, the VT Department of Forestry, the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department, the Burlington Airport,  the University of Vermont, and the town of Enosburg Falls. The Mow Electric! website contains a list of most of the contractors currently using E-mowers in Vermont.

More and more Vermonters are taking advantage of the convenience and cost savings of residential E-walk-behind and riding mowers and E-“chore tools” (e.g. chain saws, string trimmers, and debris/leaf blowers). The use of this E-lawn care equipment is not only helping to make our communities and neighborhoods quieter, and is eliminating harmful air pollutants from gas-powered lawn equipment, but is also saving tens of thousands of gallons of gas, and the avoiding the release of hundreds of tons of CO2.

PBS Green Motoring Program

In 2019, the availability of utility incentives leading to the increased use of electric lawn care equipment in Vermont was featured on the PBS Green Motoring program and is available for viewing on the PBS website. The segment includes an interview with Darren Springer of Burlington Electric Department, shots of one of Burlington’s zero-turn E-mowers operating at Waterfront Park, and footage of a Church Hill Landscapes/Greener Lawn Care crew mowing a residential property in S. Burlington.  Airing since 1981, Motor Week is broadcast on over 200 PBS network affiliates and Discovery's Velocity/MotorTrend.

Commercial and Residential E-Lawn Equipment Demo Events and Presentations

Over the past few years, the Mow Electric! Campaign has partnered with Town Energy Committees, the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition, Green Mt Power, SunCommon, E-lawn equipment vendors, and others to host a number of residential and commercial E-lawn Equipment demo events around the state.