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Renewable Energy in VT IS Ready To Lead The Way!

Energy Related Bills In Front Of Legislature

Gathered at the Capitol last week, representatives from Vermont’s renewable energy industries announced their readiness to make “Vermont energy strong” in the 21st century. Renewable industry representatives – manufacturers, construction contractors, installers, developers, suppliers – are poised to create jobs, stimulate investment and spend dollars locally while strengthening our energy independence and keeping our environment sustainable.

“The benefits of a strong renewable industry flow through the state” said Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont (REV), the state trade association representing more than 300 Vermont renewables and efficiency businesses.

This press conference spotlighted the  energy-related bills moving through the legislature. Governor Shumlin, in the State Energy Plan (SEP), commits Vermont to draw 90% of its energy from renewables by 2050. These energy-related bills will go a long way toward achieving these goals:

  1. Adopt a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) – essentially a mandate that, by a certain date, Vermont achieves a certain percentage of its energy from renewables – the dates and percentages are being debated as are the details as to how to reach the RPS goals (House Bill 468 introduced by Rep Tony Klein, Chair House Natural Resource Committee.
  2. Expand Standard Offer Program (SOP) – calls for the program to be expanded beyond its initial 50MW cap – the predictability brings private financial investment and a strong SOP is the most effective method for meeting strong Renewable Energy portfolio goals.
  3. Fund the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) – expected to run out of money by mid-year, this successful program has assisted the funding of over 2,500 PV, wind and solar hot water projects and helped spawn numerous new businesses. The 2011 Kavet, Rockler & Assoc, LLC report found that every $1 invested by the CEDF leveraged $4 of private investment. Proposals in the House and Senate would continue the tax on the storage of nuclear waste which funds the CEDF in part.
  4. Make technical corrections to net metering program – net metering has allowed homes, businesses, schools, farms and non-profits to harness their own energy – approved by the House in January, H.475 makes changes to 2011’s Energy Act 47 to streamline the state application process  – the new law would say that if the applicant does not hear back by Day 11 they can move forward with the installation assuming all other required permits are in place. The industry says this should be fast tracked in the Senate and signed by the Governor by Town Meeting Day!
  5. Create an MOU with FERC for small hydro – a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would, among other things, facilitate the development of small hydropower systems on existing dams (5MW or less) by allowing for a streamlined, but no less stringent, application process.
  6. Form a Green Energy Trust – set up a trust fund to help fund the energy transformation called for under the state energy plan.
  7. Revise our economic progress indicator – establish a metric separate from the GDP, gross domestic product, to measure Vermont’s economic health – the new metric would take into account other values important to Vermonters and thus be more of a “genuine progress indicator” – does our economy really ‘grow’ while it depletes our natural resources?

“We are extremely grateful for the Governor’s strong support in assuring that Vermont doesn’t miss out on the ‘energy revolution’. The many diverse businesses and workers of our industry stand with him and we are ready to get to work.” said REV Chair , Martha Staskus.

‘Getting to work’ means benefits would start to flow through the state in a variety of ways.“When we’re manufacturing or installing solar locally, we’ve activated an entire supply chain of work throughout the state. This includes electrical board fabrication in Bristol and Springfield, metal workers from Rutland County and Lyndon, and electricians and contractors from Williston,” said Andrew Savage, a member of AllEarth Renewables’ management team.

Another renewable energy insider voiced the same message: “Northern Power directly employs more than 1200 people. We sell in Vermont and export to the world. We buy from more than 350 Vermont companies. They supply steel, financial services, electrical parts, engineering services, metal fabrication and machining, welding supplies, crane services, marketing and media, legal, lodging and meeting space – a wide range of Vermont businesses stand behind us every day,” added James Jennings, Global Director of Repower  Business at Northern Power Systems.

Passing these bills could mean an entirely invigorated Vermont. “With climate change upon us, it is not a question of when we will switch to renewables, but how quickly, how thoughtfully, how comprehensively and where” Stebbins concluded.

For more information, visit:  www.revermont.org/main/about-us/policy-and-advocacy

Finally, contact your legislators and let them know you want clean energy, and all the benefits that come with it, here in Vermont

“With climate change upon us, it is not a question of when we will transfer to renewables, but how quickly, how thoughtfully, how comprehensively, and where”

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