Utilities Should be Treated as Utilities

GlobalFoundries, the largest electricity user in Vermont, recently filed for permission from the Public Utility Commission to become a “self-managed utility,” cutting off its reliance on Green Mountain Power for electricity – and requesting special treatment no other company or ratepayer in the state gets in the process.  

One of the managers of the facility put it this way, “We will only be set up to serve ourselves and no one else.” That may or may not make sense for their business. But they are also requesting exemptions from the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs – exemptions no other utility and no other electric customer gets 

That’s not right. Here’s how I put it in Seven Days: “Essentially, what the petition argues is that the State of Vermont should cede energy policy authority for 8 percent of our electricity usage to corporate policy and customer demands of GlobalFoundries. That would be very different policy than what the state has for any other user.” 

GlobalFoundries essentially argues that their “special” circumstances mean they do not qualify for the Self Managed Energy Efficiency Program (SMEEP, which currently requires them to spend roughly $1 million a year on efficiency), would be exempt from the Renewable Energy Standard (RES), and would also not be obligated to fund Efficiency Vermont’s work. Moreover, the company could request to be bound by their Certificate of Public Good (CPG) to stringent requirements in line with state policy, but that is not what they are doing. They are simply asking to be bound by the CPG to file reports.  

GlobalFoundries’ outrageous request to be carved out of every major renewable energy and efficiency law in Vermont deserves close scrutiny. In testimony, a GlobalFoundries representative stated that they “[do] not want to see” their emissions “increase.” That’s nice, but Vermont has a statutory mandate that statewide emissions decline significantly by 2025, and far further by 2030 and 2050. A major corporation “not increasing” the pollution from its operations in Vermont, while the rest of us work together to cut carbon pollution and achieve our shared goals, falls far short of the mark. 

Vermont’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulates utilities in Vermont and will decide on whether to grant GlobalFoundries the right to operate as a separate utility, and on these exemptions. We believe the Commission and Legislature should seriously consider whether exempting a full 8% of the state’s electricity usage from statewide clean energy programs is really the policy outcome we want, or what the legislature intended 

We will continue to follow this situation as it develops, and to make the case that GlobalFoundries doesn’t get to make its own rules and laws. For updates, subscribe to our email list and follow us on social media @VPIRG!