Lawmakers in Vermont are backing legislation that would require more than half of all utility sales to come from renewable sources by 2017.
The Senate approved a bill that requires utilities to provide renewable electricity to customers and to come up with programs to help customers reduce their use of fossil fuels, The Burlington Free Press reported.
Electric companies would be required to own renewable energy credits, or provide electricity from renewable sources, representing 55% of their sales by January 1, 2017. That fraction would rise to 75% by 2032.
VT Digger reported that the bill, H.40, went on to Governor Peter Shumlin after clearing both the Senate and the House. The House had passed a similar bill back in March, according to an article posted at UtilityDive.
The bill also cleared up some problems with the state’s program of renewable energy credits that had threatened to increase electric rates by 6% if left unresolved.
Weaning customers off fossil fuels
In addition to setting renewable energy goals, the bill would also require utilities to propose programs to help consumers reduce their use of fossil fuels and to present the proposals to the Public Service Board for review. Measures might include, for example, financing for energy-efficient heat pumps.
The dozen or so utilities in the state with fewer than 6,000 customers would get a two-year reprieve from the provision on fossil fuels.
“We see this as a truly innovative and forward-thinking aspect of the bill,” Dylan Zwicky of the Vermonth Public Interest Research Group told the Free Press. “We’ve done a lot of work to increase renewable electricity production in the state. The difficult nut to crack until this point has been carbon pollution from heating and transportation.”
UtilityDive reported that the program, called the Renewable Energy Standard and Energy Transformation, also would encourage distributed generation in order to increase the reliability of the state’s electric grid, to reduce line losses, and to avoid having to upgrade the grid because of distribution problems.