On May 11th, on what turned out to be the second to last day of the legislative session, the Vermont Senate voted overwhelmingly to concur with the language added in the House of Representatives to S.112 to create the Legislative Working Group on Renewable Energy Standard Reform.
In a Legislative session dominated for months by contentious debates and fossil fuel industry-funded opposition campaign to the Clean Heat Standard/Affordable Heat Act, getting S.112 through both chambers represents significant progress towards a 100% renewable energy future. Three legislators were instrumental in getting RES reform moving- Rep Laura Sibilia (I-Dover), Sens Anne Watson (D-Washington), and Becca White (D-Windsor).
What Does S.112 Do?
S.112 creates the Legislative Working Group on Renewable Energy Standard Reform charged with bringing together stakeholders from the environmental movement, utility sector, business community, low-income advocates, and others to prepare legislation for consideration in the 2024 Legislative Session.
The Working Group is led by two yet to be named members of the House and Senate and will hold eight meetings before the end of 2023. Importantly, $75,000 was appropriated to the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office for research and analysis independent of the Department of Public Service and the Public Utility Commission.
This bill was passed thanks to the hard work of a broad coalition of organizations committed to a 100% renewable energy future- VPIRG, 350Vermont, Rights & Democracy, Sierra Club, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Conservation Voters, and Conservation Law Foundation.
During this process, among other things, this coalition is going to be advocating for:
- Ending the use of unbundled RECs from large out of state existing hydro power
- Moving Vermont to a 100% renewable energy future by 2030
- Doubling the amount of new in state renewables to 20% of our power by 2030
- Creating a new “in region, new renewables” requirement of 30% of our power by 2030
Why Do We Need to Update the RES?
Updating the RES and streamlining the regulatory process for greater predictability, efficiency and timeliness are the top priorities for REV.
Written in 2015, the RES calls for just 75% of Vermont’s power to come from renewables by 2032 with just 10% of that generated from new in state 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.
In addition, since Vermont has no baseload natural gas plants, we rely on 81 such plants located in largely lower income communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut when we need more power in addition to dozens of costly fossil fuel “peaker plants”. Bringing new renewables on line here in Vermont and in our region would help curtail the need for this fossil fuel generation facilities.