Despite numerous attempts to weaken the bill and create roadblocks to renewable energy – H.40 (the Renewable Energy Standard or “RES” bill) passed the Vermont Senate late Friday, won approval by the House, and is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
H.40 will get renewables built, help Vermonters cut their fossil fuel use, and save Vermonters an estimated $390 million.
A lot of people played an important role in getting H.40 past the finish line — from the Renewable Energy Vermont team to VPIRG’s partners in the environmental community at VNRC and Vermont Conservation Voters, to allied utilities and businesses, to the governor’s administration.
But according to VPIRG Climate and Energy Program director Ben Walsh, most critical was the support of VPIRG members and the leadership of Senator Chris Bray, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Over the course of three days last week, VPIRG supporters flooded the phone lines of the State House, asking their senators to support H.40 and to oppose amendments aimed at weakening it.
“On Thursday morning alone, four separate times messages from VPIRG members were delivered to a Senator while I was talking to them about the bill,” Walsh said. “And several other Senators told Dylan [Zwicky] and me about how many notes they’d gotten in support of keeping the bill strong.
“There’s no question that kind of outpouring of support was a key factor tipping the scales in support of renewable energy and efficiency last week.”
Still, Walsh added, even with that support and with the best efforts of VPIRG advocates and the other lobbyists working to get the bill passed – all could have been lost without the steadfast leadership of Senator Chris Bray.
“Senator Bray was under enormous pressure to undercut the progress the bill would make by approving poorly thought through proposals to slow the construction of renewable energy. Through it all, Senator Bray stuck to his guns, and the good bill that passed on Friday was as much a result of his resolve as any other factor,” Walsh said.
H.40’s passage will ensure hundreds of megawatts of renewables are built in Vermont. It will help tens of thousands of Vermonters cut their fossil fuel dependence. And it is projected to save Vermonters hundreds of millions of dollars.
But according to Walsh – passing RES is just one step.
“While this Renewable Energy Standard is a good step forward, we’ve got more work to do,” Walsh said. “Our team is already hard at work planning for the next phase of the carbon pollution tax campaign. For the moment though I just want to thank everyone who helped get this bill passed.”
For more information on exactly what the RES bill will accomplish – check out the VPIRG info page on this bill.