Modest Renewable Energy Bill Gets the Nod
A measure to promote renewable energy in Vermont passed late in the session, but not before being stripped of one of its primary provisions.
The remaining legislation, S.214, expands the standard offer program to promote small-scale renewable energy projects in Vermont. However, for a variety of reasons, including opposition from some industry groups and legislative time constraints, lawmakers in the last days of the session ended up stripping from the bill a “renewable portfolio standard” or RPS. That standard would have set a goal of Vermont getting 75 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032 and require that utilities fill 35 percent of their portfolios with “new renewable energy” (developed since 2005) by 2032.
VNRC testified several times on the bill, urging passage of an ambitious RPS and a larger standard offer.
The bill as passed will spur the development of smaller scale renewable energy projects. The bill also requires the state to consider greenhouse gas impacts and efficiency when reviewing proposals for electricity generating biomass energy projects and it requires the Public Service Board to further study an RPS, including consideration of a system that rewards efficiency. It calls on the Department of Public Service to study how to move Vermont toward a “total energy standard,” a standard that includes targets for increasing the use of renewable fuels for heating and transportation, not just for electricity generation. The legislation also requires ANR, in consultation with other agencies, to develop a greenhouse gas accounting protocol to achieve lifecycle accounting of greenhouse gas emissions from various energy sources. VNRC looks forward to helping shape stronger energy legislation when lawmakers return next year.