Vermont Takes the First Step Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Energy Future
One of the proven ways to tackle the climate change crisis is to “electrifying everything.” From the cars we drive to how we heat our homes, we are moving away from polluting fossil fuels to electricity. Therefore, it is even more crucial that this electricity comes from cleaner, stably priced renewable sources. After all, it makes little climate sense to buy an electric car and power it with electricity generated by burning dirty oil or natural gas as is often the case now in Vermont.
Fortunately, House Speaker Jill Krowinski recognized this. Despite a Legislative session dominated for months by the fossil fuel industry’s campaign opposing progress on climate solutions, she championed passage of legislation to update Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard, setting us on a path towards a cleaner 100% renewable energy future.
This bill brings together a broad working group of stakeholders and legislators to figure out how to get Vermont to a 100% renewable energy future and how these changes might impact our electric grid’s reliability and resiliency, the impact on electric rates, and importantly how any decisions might impact both positively and negatively, those in low and moderate income households.
A broad coalition of organizations committed to reducing global warming through a 100% renewable energy future- VPIRG, 350Vermont, Rights & Democracy, the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Renewable Energy Vermont, Vermont Conservation Voters and the Conservation Law Foundation supported the bill.
There are many reasons why Vermont needs to update its law governing renewable energy.
The current law is outdated- written in 2015 it calls for just 75% of Vermont’s power to come from renewables by 2032 with just 10% of that generated from new sources, the lowest new renewable energy requirement in New England. It’s way past time to bring Vermont in line with the rest of our region’s commitment to renewable generation, the only way to truly decrease the amount of carbon pollution emitted New England’s electric generation.
And the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Biden last year, has given Vermont a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring in upwards of half a billion dollars in federal money to help Vermonters make the transition off of fossil fuels and to renewables- an amount of money that was unthinkable back in 2015. We cannot afford to leave this federal money unspent.
Due to the interconnected nature of New England’s electric grid, every time we in Vermont bring new wind or solar power on line, at some point it will displace dirtier electricity generated elsewhere in New England by burning fossil fuels like natural gas and oil.
Vermont has no baseload natural gas plants, instead we rely on 81 such plants located in largely lower income communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In addition, when we need more power during energy “peaks” from heat waves or cold snaps, we rely on dozens of the most costly and dirty fossil fuel “peaker plants” spread throughout New England.
It’s way past time for Vermont to end its environmentally unjust reliance on these power plants in marginalized communities for so much of our energy needs. Bringing more new renewables on line here in Vermont and throughout New England will help curtail the need for these and future heavily polluting facilities and begin the process of alleviating the environmental and health burdens placed on these communities.