Roll Call! Senate Mandates 75% “Renewables” by 2032

Roll Call Graphic
in the State Senate on May 15, 2015 by a vote of

Purpose: H.40 has multiple purposes. First is to replace the 2005 SPEED program with a new program (RESET), which will ensure Vermont utilities’s ability to continue selling Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to other states. Vermont was accused “double dipping” — selling RECs to other states while also counting them against our own carbon footprint — and those other states threatened to ban purchase our RECs. Selling RECs offsets Vermont electric rate payers’ bills by more than $50 million.
Beyond this, H.40 seeks to set into law renewable energy benchmarks for the state, force utilities to buy (and therefore sell) renewable energy to their customers (this artificially increased demand is intended to spark construction of more renewable energy generation facilities in Vermont), and mandate that utilities take action to reduce their customers’ energy usage.
Analysis: Analysis. That the bill fixed Vermont’s flawed (fraudulent) REC selling scheme is well and good.However, H.40 puts into law (“gives teeth to”) the first steps of what had been the official but non-binding goal of having 90 percent of all energy in the state come from renewable sources by 2050. This will come at tremendous cost in terms of increased electricity rates, the impact higher electricity costs will have on the economy at large, and the damage to Vermont’s natural environment as ridge lines and fields are developed into wind and solar electricity factories.
As the bill states, “The target amounts of total renewable energy established required by this subsection shall be 55 percent of each retail electricity provider’s annual retail electric sales during the year beginning on January 1, 2017, increasing by an additional four percent each third January 1 thereafter, until reaching 75 percent on and after January 1, 2032.” This means Vermont will need to construct 25 megawatts of renewable power generation every year between now and 2032. We currently generate 74 megawatts.
The bill gives unprecedented power to the already powerful Public Service Board: “In addition to its existing authority, the Board may establish by order or rule a volumetric charge to customers for the support of energy efficiency programs that meet the requirements of section 218c of this title. The charge shall be known as the energy efficiency charge, shall be shown separately on each customer’s bill, and shall be paid to a fund administrator appointed by the Board and deposited into an Electric Efficiency Fund.”
As for the costs of H.40, the Joint Fiscal Office analysis stated, “…there is no way to assess the actual benefits of many of the most important program investment expenditures. Without such measurement, program expenditures are guaranteed, while precise program benefits are largely hypothetical.

Senate Journal, Friday, May 15, 2015. “Thereupon, the proposal of amendment recommended by the Committee on Education, as amended, was agreed to and third reading of the bill was ordered on a roll call, Yeas 22, Nays 6.” (Read the Journal, p. 1904-1906)

How They Voted

(Click on Your Senator’s Name to Send an Email)

Timothy Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) – YES
Claire Ayer (D-Addison) – ABSENT
Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
John Campbell (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Dustin Degree (R-Franklin) – NO
William Doyle (R-Washington) – YES
Margaret Flory (R-Rutland) – NO
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – YES
Norman McAllister (R-Franklin) – ABSENT
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington) – YES
John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – YES
Diane Snelling (R-Chittenden) – YES
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – YES
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES
David Zuckerman (P-Chittenden) – YES

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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