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VNRC Recommendations for Vermont’s New Energy Planning Framework

Working with legislators this session, VNRC, our partners, and activists succeeded in passing S.230 – now Act 174 – to continue the state’s efforts to help combat climate change and meet our renewable energy goals in ways that work better for communities. Specifically, Act 174 creates a new, enhanced planning framework that empowers regions and towns to submit a local energy plan that outlines steps to meet the state’s renewable energy goals and receive “substantial deference” in regulatory proceedings on energy projects before the Public Service Board.

Right now, the Department of Public Service is now seeking public input to help inform their recommendations for regional and local energy planning standards.

Attend a public workshop to help shape the standards on August 30 from 9 a.m. to noon in Noble Hall at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier or submit your written comments to share your thoughts. RSVP by August 25 to attend the workshop or send your written comments to – PSD.PlanningStandards@vermont.gov. (You can simply submit your thoughts to PSD.PlanningStandards@vermont.gov or take their online survey here.)

This is an important opportunity for Vermonters to balance our obligation to act on global warming with a proactive articulation of the strategies and solutions that will work best for our state and communities. Here are some of the messages that we will be sending – and some potential talking points you can consider when you weigh in:

  • We must act strongly and swiftly on climate change. Climate change is an urgent problem and Vermonters and the state have a responsibility to do something about it, and that includes developing far more in-state renewable energy resources.
  • Town and regional plans must demonstrate their commitment and partnership in achieving Vermont’s clean energy and climate goals. The state has set a necessarily ambitious 90% by 2050 renewable energy goal, and Act 174 must require communities and towns to craft strong, forward-looking plans that will ensure they help achieve it.
  • We must support the deployment of all forms of clean energy technology. How and where projects are sited matters, and it’s critical to protect natural resources and engage communities. Ensuring that Vermont continues to support all clean energy technologies – solar, wind, hydro, biomass and more – is imperative to a strong, affordable clean energy portfolio.
  • Give this process time to play out and manifest results. Act 174 creates a new planning framework aimed at balancing many, sometimes competing, goals. It will take time and patience to reap the rewards of this approach. We urge the PSD, the State of Vermont and legislators to give this process the time it will take to ensure the balance Act 174 aims to achieve is realized.

It’s important to note that towns and regions are not required to undertake this enhanced energy planning. They are enabled to do so, and many might choose to do so in order to receive “substantial deference” in regulatory proceedings on energy projects before the Public Service Board. Learn far more about this process and find links to the statute and to RSVP here.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to participate in and shape this important process. Hope to see you on August 30 or that you can spend 5 minutes to share with the PSD your thoughts on this effort. Reminder again to RSVP by August 30 or submit written comments to: PSD.PlanningStandards@vermont.gov or take the survey by September 5.