30 V.S.A. § 8002-8005 establish a renewable energy standard (RES) that Vermont electric distribution utilities (DUs) are required to meet. Under the RES, Vermont’s DUs must procure a defined percentage of their total retail electric sales from renewable energy. The requirements of the RES are broken into three categories, or tiers, as follows:
Tier I requires that Vermont DUs procure a defined percentage of their retail electric sales from any source of renewable energy. Under Tier I, this defined percentage starts at 55% in 2017, the first year the RES is in effect, and increases by 4% every three years, eventually reaching 75% in 2032.
Tier II requires that Vermont DUs procure a defined percentage of their retail electric sales from new distributed renewable generation. For purposes of the RES, distributed renewable generation is defined as electric generation facilities that have a plant capacity of 5 MW or less and are directly connected to a DUs subtransmission or distribution system, or have been identified in an approved plant to defer transmission upgrades, or net-metering systems, provided the DU owns the environmental attributes associated with the system. In order to qualify as new under the RES, facilities must have commenced operation after June 30, 2015. DUs are required to procure 1% of their annual retail sales from Tier II-eligible facilities starting in 2017, increasing by three-fifths of a percent each year until reaching 10% in 2032.
Tier III requires that DUs either procure additional new distributed renewable energy consistent with the requirements of Tier II, above, or acquire fossil-fuel savings through energy transformation projects. Energy transformation projects are those that reduce the fossil-fuel consumption of a DU’s customers and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that consumption. Under Tier III, DUs must procure either the amount of distributed renewable energy or fossil-fuel savings equivalent to 2% of their annual retail sales in 2017, increasing by two-thirds of a percent each year until reaching 12% in 2032.
The Public Utility Commission has taken several steps to implement the RES and determine how DUs should comply with it. These requirements are detailed in several orders issued by the Commission:
- March 15, 2016, RES Interim Order
- June 28, 2016, RES Final Order
- October 27, 2016, RES Order to Alter or Amend
In addition to the above orders, comments submitted by participants in the Commission’s development of its orders governing the RES and DU compliance filings with the RES can be found by using ePUC.