State News, Uncategorized

Vermont House passes modernized renewable energy standard

Last Thursday, March 21, the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.289, to modernize Vermont’s renewable energy standard by a 99-39-11 vote. The bill would put Vermont on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity across all the state’s utilities by 2035, which would make Vermont only the second state to meet that critical benchmark, and would significantly increase the requirements for Vermont utilities to support the deployment of new renewable energy. The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration.

If enacted, H.289 would be the first major update to the renewable energy standard since its enactment in 2015. In terms of cutting carbon pollution, this bill will be the equivalent of taking approximately 160,000-250,000 cars off the road, for good. This bill represents the largest single move towards renewable electricity and away from fossil fueled power that Vermont has ever taken, by a wide margin. 

“Vermonters have made clear over and over again that addressing the climate crisis must be a priority, and that the status quo is simply unacceptable,” said Ben Edgerly Walsh, climate and energy program director for VPIRG. “The incredibly strong vote for this bill is yet another sign that Vermont legislators have heard that message loud and clear. We deeply appreciate all the hard work Vermont representatives have done to make this bill a reality.” 

Peter Sterling, executive director of renewable energy Vermont, stated “Today’s vote was a big victory and reflects the hard work and commitment of Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski in the fight against climate change. Without her leadership, we wouldn’t have been able to bring together the environmental groups, low income advocates, utilities and others who supported this bill.”  

H.289 would: 

  • Double the amount of new renewables Vermont utilities are required to build in the state — in particular small and medium-sized renewables — from 10% to 20% of the electricity they deliver. This is expected to be met mostly with new solar. 
  • Create a new requirement for Vermont utilities to provide their customers with additional, new renewable energy of any size from anywhere in the region. This requirement is over and above the in-state requirement described above — an additional 20% by 2035 for Green Mountain Power, and an additional 10% by 2035 for Vermont’s other utilities. 
  • Require all Vermont utilities to provide 100% renewable electricity to their customers — by 2030 for Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Coop, and by 2035 for other utilities that are not already at 100% renewable.
  • The bill also phases out offsite or “virtual” net metering — a program that had potential to be a scalable opportunity for all Vermonters to participate in community solar but unfortunately never fully lived up to that potential — while requiring an analysis and recommendations on a “successor program” to offsite group net metering that surpasses current or future options available to Vermonters who are currently unable to install solar on their properties.

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