|Power lines run through a field near Colchester Pond, Vermont.|
Today, Vermont is the only New England state not to have a statutory renewable portfolio standard, or RPS. Instead, Vermont's approach to renewable energy has focused on SPEED, or the Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development Program. SPEED's goal is that by 2012, at least 10% of the state's 2005-era electric load be served by new sources of renewable energy, or 20% of total load by 2017. To further that goal, SPEED created incentives such as a feed-in tariff designed to encourage new renewable development. Unlike true RPS programs in other states, the Vermont program's targets are not strictly binding.
Bill S-170 would take Vermont away from the goal-based model and toward a firm renewable energy mandate. The bill would create a two-tiered RPS, with a "tier one" for projects coming into service during 2005-2012 and a "tier two" for projects coming online in 2013 and later. The bill would require utilities to source power from new renewable resources in each of these categories, plus additional power from existing renewable facilities. In 2013, utilities would have to source 40% of their power from existing renewable resources, plus 10% more from "tier one" new resources. Over time, the requirement would grow; by 2025, utilities would have to add in 40% from "tier two" resources, adding up to environmental attributes representing 90% of total annual retail sales.
The bill also proposes to keep a revised version of SPEED alive, as well as a requirement that Vermont energy consumption be net-zero of carbon emissions by 2025, and provisiosn for a climate change education campaign. S-170 bill has been assigned to a legislative committee for review.