On August 9, 2019, the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rule (“ICAR”) approved Rule 4.400, the Renewable Energy Standard (“RES”) Rule. On August 13, 2019, the Commission filed the proposed rule with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Commission is accepting written public comments on the rule through October 4, 2019. Commenters are strongly encouraged to file their comments through ePUC (see information about ePUC below), but the Commission will also accept comments submitted via direct mail or email. Additionally, the Commission is holding a public hearing in Montpelier to hear from the public on the proposed rule changes. The hearing information is as follows:
September 23, 2019, 6:30 P.M.
Kellogg-Hubbard Library, East Montpelier Meeting Room
135 Main St., Montpelier, VT 05602
The proposed rule is the outcome of proceedings in Case No. 18-3810-INV, Investigation into Renewable Energy Standard rulemaking. The draft rule; the order requesting comments on the rule, including comments on several specific issue areas; the full filings submitted to the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules and the Secretary of State’s Office; and documents from Case No. 18-3810-INV are available through ePUC, the Commission’s electronic document management and filing system. The case number for this rulemaking is 19-2568-RULE. Further information about using ePUC is available online.
As established in statute, the RES requires Vermont electric utilities to acquire specified amounts of renewable energy with environmental attributes attached or any class of tradeable renewable energy credits (“RECs”) generated by any renewable energy plant whose energy is capable of delivery in New England. Utilities are also required to achieve fossil-fuel and greenhouse gas reductions by implementing energy transformation projects. An energy transformation project is:
an undertaking that provides energy-related goods or services but does not include or consist of the generation of electricity and that results in a net reduction in fossil fuel consumption by the customers of a retail electricity provider and in the emission of greenhouse gases attributable to that consumption. Examples of energy transformation projects may include home weatherization or other thermal energy efficiency measures; air source or geothermal heat pumps; high efficiency heating systems; increased use of biofuels; biomass heating systems; support for transportation demand management strategies; support for electric vehicles or related infrastructure; and infrastructure for the storage of renewable energy on the electric grid.
The RES is divided into three categories, referred to as “Tiers.” Tier I requires the electric utilities to procure an amount of renewable energy equivalent to 55% of their annual retail electric sales for the year 2017, increasing by 4% every third January 1 thereafter, eventually reaching 75% in 2032. Tier II requires that a portion of the renewable energy that the utilities procure to satisfy Tier I be from new, in-state distributed renewable generation resources of 5 MW in capacity or less. Under Tier II the utilities must procure an amount of renewable energy equivalent to 1% of their annual retail electric sales from distributed renewable generation resources in 2017, increasing by three-fifths of a percent each year thereafter, eventually reaching 10% in 2032. Tier III requires retail electricity providers to procure additional distributed renewable generation eligible for Tier II or to achieve fossil-fuel reductions from energy transformation projects equivalent to 2% of their annual retail electric sales in 2017, increasing by two-thirds of a percent each year thereafter, eventually reaching 12% in 2032.
The RES is currently implemented pursuant to a series of orders issued by the Commission in 2016 (Investigation re: establishment of the Renewable Energy Standard program, Docket 8550, Orders of 3/15/16, 6/28/16, and 10/27/16). This rulemaking is required by Section 14 of Public Act 139 (2018 Vt. Adj. Sess.), which explicitly directs the Commission to commence rulemaking for the RES on or before July 1, 2019. The proposed rule is necessary to comply with statute, is based on the existing orders implementing the RES, and expands upon and clarifies various provisions implementing the RES based on the Commission's, Department’s, utilities’, and stakeholders’ experience working with the RES over the past several years.
Questions about this rulemaking? Send to Elizabeth Schilling, Staff Attorney, by email or phone (802-828-2358).