Vermont Legislature Drops Renewable Energy Requirements For Utilities

Source: John Dillon, Vermont Public Radio • Posted: Friday, May 4, 2012

Under pressure from business groups, the Legislature has backed away from a plan to require utilities to buy a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.

The energy bill is one of the last pieces of legislation awaiting action before the 2012 session adjourns.

But the business community opposed a section of the bill that said utilities had to step up their purchase of renewable power supplies. They argued that would raise electricity rates and not do much to improve Vermont’s greenhouse gas footprint.

East Montpelier Democrat Tony Klein chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. He said some utilities were also skeptical about the legislature mandating a renewable portfolio standard. He said the utilities benefit now from selling credits from their own clean energy projects.

“It’s no secret that we heard from business on that end. And heard from utilities that are also the ones that are selling the RECs. So that is not a hard one for my committee to adapt to,” Klein said.

Governor Peter Shumlin says he wants the Legislature to pass the energy bill. But his administration supports the compromise. Elizabeth Miller heads the Department of Public Service.

“Studying the issues that have been brought up also seems appropriate to us. And frankly it’s an issue of ensuring that views are respected, compromises are reached and progress continues,” Miller said.

Associated Industries of Vermont and other business organizations have been urging the Legislature to drop the renewable mandate.