Energize Vermont board president Mark Whitworth testified before the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee on February 24, 2016. Here is the outline of his testimony. Download the outline (with attachments) here.
• Vermont has adopted ambitious energy goals that will require the siting of small, distributed electricity-generation facilities in just about every town in the state.
• The state could have engaged Vermont’s communities in the achievement of these goals.
• Instead, achievement of our energy goals was turned over to energy developers
• Helter-skelter merchant projects interfere with achievement of goals in the smartest, most cost-effective, and most efficient ways
• Poor treatment of towns by developers and the PSB has sparked a grassroots energy rebellion that includes 108 towns. And it’s spreading.
• Cities and towns are rebelling against Vermont’s energy policies by:
o Adopting municipal plans that discourage certain technologies or siting options (23 towns)
o Opposing poorly-sited energy projects and inappropriate energy technologies (24)
o Passing resolutions that demand that energy developers comply with appropriately-developed municipal siting standards (96)
• Rebellion towns are in every region of the state
o They lie in 63 House districts and are represented by 91 House members
o Six Senate districts have more than 50% of their populations in rebellion towns: Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Essex-Orleans, Franklin, and Rutland
Move Energy Land-Use to Act 250
• The PSB is good at evaluating electricity reliability, cost, and rate issues.
• The PSB was not created to regulate land use and it has little aptitude for it
• Act 250 is a good place for land-use decisions associated with energy
o Forty years of case law
o Distinguishes between major and minor applications
o Easily accessible by citizens
o Nine regional commissions attuned to local sensibilities
• Collaboration between communities and the utilities that serve them will assure:
o Good projects in the right places—projects that bring communities together
o Achievement of our goals in the most sensible way
o Wisest use of existing utility distribution and transmission assets
o Land use consistent with regional and municipal conservation and orderly development goals
• Newark’s Collaborative Energy Development Resolution
o Pledges town to work with the utilities that serve it to:
– determine how much generation would be appropriate in the town,
– design projects that could help meet state goals and improve reliability,
– identify locations agreeable to landowners, the utilities, and the town,
– facilitate project development by reputable developers, and
– define projects that can help utilities meet the energy transformation goals that were established under Act 56
o Asks utilities to help discourage projects that aren’t the result of collaboration