Vermont Governor Shumlin Sets Aggressive New Renewable Energy Goals

Governor Peter Shumlin recently signed a bill to help renewable growth in the state. House Bill (HB) 40 would establish a requirement of 55 percent of the power sold by Vermont energy companies to come from renewable sources by 2017, and 75 percent by 2032.

The bill will also create an "energy transformation" program, which will help utilities educate customers on energy efficiency.

"Vermonters will now have one stop access for services and financing to weatherize their homes and businesses, add on-site solar and replace or upgrade their current heating system with state-of-the-art air source heat pumps," Rep. Tony Klein, chair the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, told the Associated Press.

The purpose of the bill is to encourage the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy as percentages of annual electric sales, set a target for the renewable energy standard (RES), and set minimum total amounts of total renewable energy for retail electricity provider.

The bill will also hopefully stop complaints about a previously-used loophole in the state. Vermont's energy industry has worked around some rules in to help them meet renewable goals. Utilities sell around $50 million a year in renewable energy credits outside the state, and HB 40 will clear up any confusion about Vermont counting some of that energy twice -- to meet in-state renewable goals while at the same time allowing renewable energy developers to count it toward their goals outside the state.

The bill was signed only two days after Gov. Shumlin announced he would not be seeking re-election. At that announcement, he also announced the state now has 10 times more renewable energy than it did when he first ran in 2010 -- and said he will spend the remainder of his term expanding renewable energy in the state even further.

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