Below is an excerpt from REV’s comments on the Renewable Energy Standard annual report relating to the Vermont Legislature. Click here to read REV’s full comments.
“REV appreciates the chance for input in the Department of Public Service’s (DPS or Department) 2020 annual report to the Legislature on the costs and benefits of the Renewable Energy Standard.
The message from the CEP, the Climate Action Plan and elsewhere is that we need to electrify everything to reduce our climate impact. We need to electrify our transportation impacts by putting more EVs on the road. We need to electrify our thermal sector by installing more heat pumps to heat our homes and buildings. In order for this strategy to have the intended climate impact, we need to be honest about the existing carbon emissions inherent in our electricity sector. We cannot buy our way out of the climate crisis by buying more carbon offsets (claimed as renewable energy credits (RECs) by the utilities) from aging hydro and nuclear power plants. We must accurately account for the actual use of fossil fuels in the electric sector and look for ways to reduce purchases from the ISO New England system mix, which is largely from natural combined cycle gas plants, oil-fired plants and even coal-fired plants. We can do this by adding more in-state wind and solar which can directly offset those fossil fuel sources 99% of the time.
The RES requires utilities to purchase more renewable generation over time and to ramp up our reliance on renewable energy generation to the point where we get to 75% renewable electricity generation for electricity by 2032. The Climate Action Plan calls for Vermont to obtain 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. These goals are admirable and ones that REV wholeheartedly endorses. However, the RES must be based on a realistic evaluation of where our actual energy purchases are coming from. We cannot rely on REC arbitrage to satisfy the RES requirements. To make a meaningful contribution to addressing the climate crisis, new sources of electricity generation must come from new renewables. Otherwise, we are fooling ourselves and ‘greenwashing’ for Vermonters the very real climate change impacts of our electricity use and thus we are not accomplishing what the RES was intended to address.”