Step 4. Change the ways we produce energy.

Photo courtesy of  Northwoods Stewardship Center .

Vermont has promising energy production opportunities that relate to crop and forest-based fuels. But, when we think of energy production in Vermont, we usually think of electricity.

Two recent pieces of legislation, Acts 56 and 174, will influence Vermont’s production and consumption of electricity for decades.

Act 56, enacted in 2015, requires Vermont utilities to:

  • meet an overall requirement for renewable electricity

  • meet a requirement for local, distributed, small-scale renewable electricity

  • help customers change the ways they use energy

Act 174, enacted in 2016, encourages regional and municipal planning commissions to develop detailed energy plans that address emissions reductions and energy siting. Regional and municipal plans that meet Act 174’s requirements will be given more weight by the Public Utility Commission. An energy project built in a location that is “preferred” by an Act 174-certified municipal plan can earn a higher price for its electricity.

Acts 56 and 174 move Vermont in the right direction insofar as they meet our fundamental principle of respect for environment, economic soundness, and community values. It is the position of Energize Vermont that utilities should purchase electricity from the most economical and least environmentally damaging sources that are available. Energy projects in Vermont should follow a set of principles for responsible development. We invite you to suggest additions to our list.

Principles for responsible energy development:

  • Energy projects should be sited near the populations they serve.

  • Energy developers should collaborate with communities

  • Energy projects should be developed on “the built environment.” That is, wildlife habitat should not be sacrificed for energy.

  • Energy projects should

    • be distributed,

    • be community-scale,

    • produce affordable energy, and

    • not require transmission/distribution upgrades.

  • Energy projects should conform to regional and municipal plans

  • Energy projects should not encroach on neighbors.

  • A renewable energy project should not cause another renewable generator to be curtailed because of transmission constraints.