Renewable Energy Vermont and the Vermont State Legislature
Renewable Energy Vermont is the only organization dedicated solely to working toward increased, affordable, and comprehensive renewable energy use in Vermont. We are increasingly finding partners across the political and environmental spectrum that share our mission and want to join us at the Statehouse and in regulatory forums to fight for sustainable energy legislation. One part of our work is to ensure that Vermont enacts policies and legislation that promote renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE). We have been very effective in working on this front in the past, including:
- Securing improvements in net metering policy
- The creation and continued funding of the Clean Energy Development Fund
- Implementation of the renewable energy incentives program
- Increased biodiesel use in state fleets and buildings
- Establishment of the Vermont Standard Offer Program
- The first-in-the-nation solar registration process for streamlined permitting of solar projects under 10kW
- The establishment of a statewide solar credit for customers generating solar power.
2013 Legislative Update
Clean Energy Development Fund
- June 2013: REV Comments to CEDF
- Proposed CEDF Annual Program Plan and Budget FY 2014
- Proposed Changes to the Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program July 2013
Energy Generation Siting Commission
- March 1: REV Comments to Vermont Energy Generation Siting Commission
- 19 March: REV comments to Vermont Energy Generation Siting Commission
Community Energy & Efficiency Development (CEED) Fund
- July 1, 2013 | REV Comments to PSB re: Net Metering Rule 5.100
- May 2013 | Requirements for Applications up to 150kW
- May 2013 | Board Order re PSB Rule 5.100 Pertaining to Net Metering
- May 2013 | REV Comments on PSB Net Metering Rule 5.100
- Order Establishing Billing Standards & Procedures
- PSD’s Evaluation of Net Metering in Vermont (draft)
Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program
- SSREIP Rule Interpretation Letter | March 2013
- 18 January: REV comments on changes to SSREIP
- Winter 2012: Proposed Changes for 2013 Incentive Program
Solar Municipal Property Tax
- Vermont Dept. of Taxes Technical Bulletin re: Uniform Capacity Tax on Renewable Energy Plants Commissioned to Generate Solar Power
- June 20, 2013 | REV Letter to Tax Dept re: Municipal Taxes on PV
- Solar Tax System and Valuation 3 27 13
- May 8, 2013 | REV Letter to Tax Dept. re: Municipal Taxes on PV
- Vermont Public Service Board Revamps Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program; Establish Market-Based Mechanism for New Projects | Dunkiel Saunders
- Standard Offer: Prices and Programmatic Changes | March 2013
- Standard Offer Request for Proposals
- Standard Offer Screening Framework & Guidelines
Fall 2012 Legislative Update
- PSB Draft Report of Renewable Portfolio Standard in Vermont
- CEDF Five-Year Strategic Plan (Public Review Draft)
- 20 September: REV Response to PSB Memo Re: Dockets 7873 & 7874
- 14 September: Renewable Energy Vermont Comments regarding Net-Metering
- 10 September: REV Response to Proposed CEDF Incentive Changes
Summer 2012 Legislative Update: See below for comments REV has submitted to the Public Service Board on Dockets 7873 and 7874 and the Net-Metering bill. Additionally, REV has submitted comments (below) to the Public Service Department regarding the CEDF’s proposed changes to the Incentive Program.
- 5 July: REV Comments to PSB Memo 7873 and 7874
- 5 July: Response to PSB Dockets 7873 & 7874 Comments regarding Pricing, Costs & Project Selection
- 5 July: REV Response to PSB Draft Billing Standards and Procedures re: 219a
- For Full Comments from Various Stakeholders, Click Here.
2012 Legislative Results: Thank you to all the REV members that weighed in and got involved this Legislative Session. Countless members (and associated businesses) testified, provided data analysis and policy support, wrote to and called their Elected Officials, helped fund the Legislative effort and finally, attended bill signings, REV’s press conference and REV’s “day at the Statehouse”. All of these efforts really did (and does) make a difference. The following bills have been signed into law, or should be in the next few days:
House Bill 475: The net-metering bill raises the solar net metering registration capacity from 5 kW to 10 kW, addresses several technical fixes with regards to net-metering, and also defines solar Standard Offer projects based on inverter capacity. Click here to read this bill.
House Bill 468/ Senate Bill 214: The Renewable Portfolio Standard and Standard Offer Bill became S. 214, a bill that no longer includes an RPS, but does increase the Standard Offer Program to a total of 127.5 MW over the next 10 years. It includes several studies, including a report regarding how to move Vermont towards comprehensive energy planning via a Total Energy Standard (includes thermal, transportation and power mandates). The bill also sets a new policy directive to utilize distributed generation as a means to address transmission and distribution constraints, and peak load issues. Click here to read this bill.
House Bill 782: This tax bill should ensure the Clean Energy Development Fund receives approximately $3 million/year through a generation tax on Vermont Yankee. Estimated availability is Fall 2012, which does not necessarily prevent a funding gap that may occur prior to Yankee’s payment in 2013. It will also require that the renewable energy community and REV go to the bat annually to ensure this funding is appropriated from the General Fund to the CEDF, as opposed to other competing needs.
House Bill 679: This tax bill ensures all solar projects 10 kW and smaller are tax exempt, for solar projects larger than 10 kW it requires a $4/kW annual state property tax, and brings wind projects 1 – 5 MW in size into the same tax rate as projects wind projects 5 MW and larger. Click here to read this bill.
Senate Bill 148: A hydro bill that allows for preliminary reviews regarding retrofitting existing hydro sites, without going through an expensive FERC process first. Click here to read this bill.
Senate Bill 237: The Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont is now tasked with developing a genuine progress indicator (GPI) to be used by the state of Vermont along with the state’s gross domestic product when assessing the overall economic health of the state. A GPI broadens the GDP economic analysis to include not just economic impact, but also environmental and social impacts resulting from economic activity. This is important because it means our economic analyses may start to include the upsides of clean energy – a cleaner environment, better air and water quality and resulting human health impacts, etc. Click here to read this bill.
Additionally, Vermont once again led the nation by being the first to ban hydraulic fracturing. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) will be reviewed to identify how to expand this financing mechanism from residential customers to include commercial customers. And, finally, REV and many partners were successful in ensuring that wind energy remains a key part of our energy future.
REV is currently developing a “cheat sheet” overview of the various bills provided above – this should be available by Friday, May 25th. If you are a current REV member and would like a copy of this, please contact Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Renewable Energy and REV’s Legislative Agenda REV’s legislative agenda is a big effort this year and we can’t accomplish it without your support. With contributions from members, REV can continue to effectively work on the issues facing our industry. We have communicated with many of our members on the issues and met with other groups to refine our plan. We now need the funds to support this effort, and maintain our strong presence as the new administration takes shape. To ensure our voice remains strong at the table, we need to raise $50,000 by March 15, 2012. Please support REV’s 2012 Legislative Fund today. Your dollars support this work that benefits your business, renewable technologies and energy efficiency here in Vermont. We encourage you to contact the REV Staff and Board of Directors to ensure your concerns are heard. Please consider making a contribution* based on your business’s annual revenue.
Annual Revenue Contribution Level
Individuals/Small Businesses $25 to $50
< $250,000 $50 to $100
< $1,000,000 $100 to $1000
Between $1M and 5M $1000 to $5000
> $5,000,000 $5000 to $10,000
Checks can be made payable to Renewable Energy Vermont and sent to:
Renewable Energy Vermont Legislative Fund
PO Box 1036
Montpelier, VT 05601
*Note contributions are non tax-deductible. Thank you to those who have already contributed to this effort – both through your personal participation in the Legislature and your financial contributions.
More About REV’s Legislation Efforts
Full Summary of the Vermont Energy Act of 2011 Following is a summary of each of the bill’s provisions in detail. Click here to read through the full text of the bill.
Self-Generation and Net Metering
- Clarifies that purpose of net metering is to offset a customers electricity requirements.
- Raises the system cap from 250kW to 500kW for both group and non-group systems. In effect on Jan 1, 2012.
- Provides for a simplified registration process for solar net metered systems of 5kW or less. 2012 Legislation has increased this to 10kW. This provision allows smaller systems to receive a CPG via registration. It gives utilities a 10-day window to note interconnection issues after which the board automatically issues a CPG. This goes into effect 180 days after passage.
- Includes a provision which expires a CPG if unused for 12 months.
- Monetizes kWh credits
- Requires a utility to bill the members of a group net metered system separately, while retaining the ability of the group administrator to determine “the manner in which the utility shall allocate any accrued credits among the meters included in the system.” See 2012 Net Metering Bill (above) for updated information.
- Raises the per-utility cumulative net metering cap from 2% to 4%. In effect on Jan 1, 2012.
- Requires all utilities to offer an incentive credit (solar adder) to net metered solar customers. Adder amount will be 20 cents minus a utilities highest retail rate for 10 years. Adder amount is revisited every two years. Exempts utilities with a retail rate equal to or greater than 20 cents. Gives utilities 30 days to file an adder proposal and another 30 days to implement the adder. Allows utilities to count net-metering kWh incentivized through the adder toward SPEED goals. Applies to all existing net metered systems and new net metered systems. See 2012 Net Metering Bill (above) for updated information.
Self-Managed Energy Efficiency
- Provides for a self-managed energy efficiency investment program for IBM. Recent legislation allowed IBM, the state’s largest electric consumer, to manage and fund its own energy-efficiency program, as long as required efficiency goals could be met. H. 56 recognizes the success of this program by making it permanent.
New Gas and Electric Purchases
- Limits out-of-state non-renewable short term utility power contracts.
Revisions to the SPEED Goals and Standard Offer
- Includes as part of the the SPEED goals, the larger economic benefit of renewable energy. And specifies a new goal: to promote and incentivize small, distributed energy generation, especially in transmission-constrained areas.
- Reallocates Standard Offer contracts to hydro projects (2.2MW or less) who’s PURPA contracts are expiring. Still has language which would have these existing hydro dams count toward our 50MW Standard Offer cap.
- Includes a Biomass Baseload RPS for VT utilities, (exempts BED). This provision is slated to keep Ryegate operating and does not include a requirement for new baseload biomass.
Low Sulfur and Biofuels Mandate
- Establishes low sulfur and biodiesel mandates for heating oil sold in Vermont, timed to match implementation by other states.
Report: Utility Bill Payment – Credit Card
- Requires the PSB to study whether or not credit/debit card processing fees accrued by utility companies should be included in a utilities “cost of service” and thus spread to ratepayers.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)*Adopted into H.56 from stand-alone PACE Bill H.155, this provision brings Vermont’s PACE law into compliance with new federal requirements in the post-frannie and freddie era. It also keeps financing rates for PACE participants affordable and minimizes administrative requirements for individual towns. Major provisions include:
- Junior lien position for PACE, to comply with federal regulatory requirements
- Allows PACE lien to survive foreclosure
- Narrows the scope of the program to residential properties only
- Loan loss reserve provision is made mandatory (currently optional) to protect towns.
- Efficiency Vermont is authorized to administer a collective loan loss reserve
- Additional statewide lona loss reserve is created and administered by State Treasurer’s Office. Funded via RGGI and capped at $1 million.
*Source: Efficiency Vermont Propane Regulation
- This provision contains a number of requirements to protect propane consumers, including language aimed at eliminating extraneous fees charged by propane companies.
Biomass Heating Incentive
- Incorporates the findings of the biomass energy working group into law, including recognition that biomass heating systems provide multiple benefits to Vermonters.
- Authorizes Efficiency Vermont (EVT) to offer incentives for the installation of woody biomass heating systems. The bill contains language which requires EVT to give priority to incentivizing woody biomass systems and shall have a goal of offering an incentive that is equal to 25% of the installed cost of such a system. Other language specifies that the incentive not be contingent upon making other energy efficiency improvements.
Regional Coordination to Reduce GHG
- Clarifies heating and process fuel language related to EVT efficiency requirements.
Working Group on Building Energy Disclosure
- Creates a working group to study whether and how to require the disclosure of energy efficiency stats as part of the sale of a comercial or residential property. Report is due by Dec. 15, 2011.
State Energy PlanThe bill contains a provision which requires the DPS to consider the following with respect to developing the Comprehensive Energy Plan:
- Whether Vermont should move to RPS or stay with SPEED (based on PSB study findings)
- The relationship between land-use and energy use and the work of the agency of ag with respect to cultivation of land for biomass, the use of buffer zones to counter carbon impacts of fossil fuels and the use of grass as a source of energy.
- The appropriate efficiency requirements applicable to woody biomass plants.
- A recommendation that the Dept. develop recommendations for siting wind plants to assure adequate protection of ridge-line environments.
- Finding a source for the CEDF
- A means for citizen involvement on decision-making in energy generation projects.
- Mechanisms to assure customers benefit from smart-grid implementation
- Residential and commercial building energy standards be adopted
- Recommendations to mitigate effects of fuel price volatility
- A timeline for fully implementing the recommendations from the 2007 Commission on Climate Change
- Recommends the Dept. consider the 2011 interim report from the biomass energy development working group
Energy Efficiency; Street Lighting
- Requires utilities to establish a rate schedule for efficient street lights
Clean Energy Development Fund
- Provides for a mechanism that allows a business with a certified solar energy tax credit to convert that credit into a cash grant. The dollar amount of the cash-in-lieu of grant is determined by the lesser of the following: a.) 50% of the dollar amount of the tax-credit OR b.) 15% of the the actual cost of the plant.
- Requires that $2.3 million of the funds unencumbered by any cash-in-lieu of grants be directed into the small-scale renewable energy incentive rebate program.
- Moves the administration of the Clean Energy Development Fund back under the direction of the DPS, and its commissioner.
DPS Bill-Back Provision
- This provision effectively allows the state to bill VY for the legal fees the state incurs as it fights the lawsuit the company filed against Vermont last month. Under the language in H.56, the state would bill Entergy for the costs it incurs defending against Entergy’s lawsuit.
2010 Renewable Energy BillREV was especially proud of passage of the 2010 Renewable Energy Bill, which was signed into law in June. This law helps farmers, the Vermont Air National Guard, large employers like IBM, and the long-term interests of all electric ratepayers. It creates government efficiencies, simplifies renewable-generation procedures, and tailors some current renewable energy incentives. Key items in the 2010 Renewable Energy Law include:
- Without changing environmental standards, making the permitting process for renewable energy projects more predictable and efficient.
- Allowing the Vermont Air Guard to develop a significant solar project through the simplified net-metering process.
- Giving much-needed price stability to the pioneering farmers in the Cow Power program.
- Reforming and capping existing state solar tax incentives, both to determine costs to the Clean Energy Development Fund and to relax deadline-related pressures on the Public Service Board.
- And reducing the cost of meeting transformer efficiency standards, which will help IBM and other large employers in Vermont.
Full text of the bill here (PDF) Overview and summary of the bill here (PDF) 2010 Biomass Bill 2009 “Standard Offer Program” REV also led the successful legislative effort in 2009 for passage of legislation, which became law without the governor’s signature, creating a “standard offer program.” The legislation made Vermont a national leader on this front and sparked the expansion of renewable energy projects statewide.