Vermonthas become the first U.S. state to adapt a full system of renewableenergy feed-in tariffs, a program that closely resembles Ontario’sGreen Energy Act (http://www.greenenergyact.ca/) passed into law in mid-May. Several U.S. states are considering similar legislation.
Thenew legislation puts in place a “standard offer” that will establishminimum rates to be paid by electric customers for various renewablesources in long-term fixed-price contacts.
Ina letter summarizing his concerns with the bill, Douglas said althoughhe supports the development of renewable energy within the state, hebelieves the bill “fails to recognize the current viability ofrenewable energy in a competitive setting and will needlessly increasecosts to Vermont consumer so as to subsidize this one favored businesssector.”
Rather than vetoing the bill,Douglas allowed its passage without his signature because the VermontPublic Service Board is required to revisit the set rates within thenext four months and periodically thereafter to determine whether theprices are inadequate or excessive.
Currently,the statute grants methane from a landfill or agriculture operation 12cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for facilities up to 2.2 megawatts, 20cents per kWh for wind power facilities up to 15 kilowatts, and 30cents per kWh for solar power facilities up to 2.2 megawatts.
TheVermont PSB has until Sept. 15 to open and complete a noncontested casedocket to determine whether the standard offer prices constitute areasonable approximation of the prices required to meet the bill’scriteria.
If the PSB decides to establishnew prices, it has until Jan. 15, 2010, to set prices for standardoffers. To see the bill in its entirety, go to http://www.revermont.org/documents/H-446_001.pdf.
Gov.Douglas recently signed into law H. 152, An Act Relating to EncouragingBiomass Energy Production, which creates a biomass energy developmentworking group to investigate and recommend fiscal and regulatoryincentives for biomass energy, as well as guidelines and standards formaintaining forest health, procurement standards and other policyconsiderations for biomass development within the state.