Energy Program Update

There are two months left in the 2015 legislative session and VPIRG has been working diligently this year on a number of big energy issues. Here is a short update of where those issues stand:

The carbon pollution tax: Since January, we’ve been working to build support with legislators, educate interested Vermonters and line up testimony. With 27 cosponsors on the primary bill (H.412) and over a dozen educational forums with hundreds of Vermonters learning more about the campaign, we’re well on our way. Want us to visit your town for a forum? Email us here. And stay tuned – in the next few weeks we’ll have a lot more to report, and you should be reading more about the campaign in the papers too.

Renewable energy: Last month, the Vermont House passed a bill that would put Vermont in line with the majority of states, requiring all electric utilities to provide customers with clean, renewable power. The Renewable Energy Standard and Energy Transformation Program (RESET) would also help Vermonters save money on heating and transportation while cutting carbon pollution in those sectors.1 It’ll be taken up in Senate Natural Resources next week, and we’ll be working to strengthen it in the Senate.

Energy siting: RESET is a great step, but we need to make sure we can keep on building more solar and wind power in Vermont if we’re going to get to 90 percent renewable energy by 2050. Unfortunately, there are still people who would like to make it more difficult to build clean energy in the state.

Over the next few weeks, the House Natural Resources committee will be taking testimony from folks on both sides of the issue, including VPIRG. We need to be increasing the amount of energy we get from renewable sources, not putting in new roadblocks. That’s why we’ll be working to make sure legislators keep their eye on Vermont’s energy goals, and climate change, when crafting legislation that addresses energy siting.

Electric energy efficiency: In a last-minute amendment which was greenlighted with virtually no testimony, a House committee voted to cut Efficiency Vermont’s 2016/17 funding by roughly $10 million. That decision will cost Vermont ratepayers $20 million or more, not even counting the carbon pollution it will result in.2 We’ll be working in the Senate to restore full funding to Efficiency Vermont.

Whether it’s the carbon pollution tax, the RESET bill, energy siting, or energy efficiency, we can’t stress enough how important it is for your legislators to hear from clean energy supporters. Over the coming weeks, check back here to stay up to date with these issues and sign the petition in support of clean energy and climate action, and you’ll be added to the email list to receive updates and future action alerts.