The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 001 : General Provisions(Cite as: 30 V.S.A. § 8005)
§ 8005. RES categories
(a) Categories. This section specifies three categories of required resources to meet the requirements of the RES established in section 8004 of this title: total renewable energy, distributed renewable generation, and energy transformation.
(1) Total renewable energy.
(A) Purpose; establishment. To encourage the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy, this subdivision establishes, for the RES, minimum total amounts of renewable energy within the supply portfolio of each retail electricity provider. To satisfy this requirement, a provider may use renewable energy with environmental attributes attached or any class of tradeable renewable energy credits generated by any renewable energy plant whose energy is capable of delivery in New England.
(B) Required amounts. The amounts of total renewable energy required by this subsection shall be 55 percent of each retail electricity provider's annual retail electric sales during the year beginning on January 1, 2017, increasing by an additional four percent each third January 1 thereafter, until reaching 75 percent on and after January 1, 2032.
(C) Relationship to other categories. Distributed renewable generation used to meet the requirements of subdivision (2) of this subsection (a) shall also count toward the requirements of this subdivision. However, an energy transformation project under subdivision (3) of this subsection shall not count toward the requirements of this subdivision.
(D) Municipal providers; petition. On petition by a provider that is a municipal electric utility serving not more than 6,000 customers, the Commission may reduce the provider's required amount under this subdivision (1) for a period of up to three years. The Commission may approve one such period only for a municipal provider. The Commission may reduce this required amount if it finds that:
(i) the terms or conditions of an environmental permit or certification necessitate a reduction in the electrical energy generated by an in-state hydroelectric facility that the provider owns and that this reduction will require the provider to purchase other renewable energy with environmental attributes attached or tradeable renewable energy credits in order to meet this required amount; and
(ii) this purchase will:
(I) cause the provider to increase significantly its retail rates; or
(II) materially impair the provider's ability to meet the public's need for energy services after safety concerns are addressed, in the manner set forth in subdivision 218c(a)(1) (least-cost integrated planning) of this title.
(2) Distributed renewable generation.
(A) Purpose; establishment. This subdivision establishes a distributed renewable generation category for the RES. This category encourages the use of distributed generation to support the reliability of the State's electric system; reduce line losses; contribute to avoiding or deferring improvements to that system necessitated by transmission or distribution constraints; and diversify the size and type of resources connected to that system. This category requires the use of renewable energy for these purposes to reduce environmental and health impacts from air emissions that would result from using other forms of generation.
(B) Definition. As used in this section, "distributed renewable generation" means one of the following:
(i) a renewable energy plant that is new renewable energy; has a plant capacity of five MW or less; and
(I) is directly connected to the subtransmission or distribution system of a Vermont retail electricity provider; or
(II) is directly connected to the transmission system of an electric company required to submit a Transmission System Plan under subsection 218c(d) of this title, if the plant is part of a plan approved by the Commission to avoid or defer a transmission system improvement needed to address a transmission system reliability deficiency identified and analyzed in that Plan; or
(ii) a net metering system approved under the former section 219a or under section 8010 of this title if the system is new renewable energy and the interconnecting retail electricity provider owns and retires the system's environmental attributes.
(C) Required amounts. The required amounts of distributed renewable generation shall be one percent of each retail electricity provider's annual retail electric sales during the year beginning January 1, 2017, increasing by an additional three-fifths of a percent each subsequent January 1 until reaching 10 percent on and after January 1, 2032.
(D) Distributed generation greater than five MW. On petition of a retail electricity provider, the Commission may for a given year allow the provider to employ energy with environmental attributes attached or tradeable renewable energy credits from a renewable energy plant with a plant capacity greater than five MW to satisfy the distributed renewable generation requirement if the plant would qualify as distributed renewable generation but for its plant capacity and the provider demonstrates that it is unable during that year to meet the requirement solely with qualifying renewable energy plants of five MW or less. To demonstrate this inability, the provider shall issue one or more requests for proposals, and show that it is unable to obtain sufficient ownership of environmental attributes to meet its required amount under this subdivision (2) from:
(i) the construction and interconnection to its system of distributed renewable generation that is consistent with its approved least-cost integrated resource plan under section 218c of this title at a cost less than or equal to the sum of the applicable alternative compliance payment rate and the applicable rates published by the Department under the Commission's rules implementing subdivision 209(a)(8) of this title; and
(ii) purchase of tradeable renewable energy credits for distributed renewable generation at a cost that is less than the applicable alternative compliance rate.
(3) Energy transformation.
(A) Purpose; establishment. This subdivision establishes an energy transformation category for the RES. This category encourages Vermont retail electricity providers to support additional distributed renewable generation or to support other projects to reduce fossil fuel consumed by their customers and the emission of greenhouse gases attributable to that consumption. A retail electricity provider may satisfy the energy transformation requirement through distributed renewable generation in addition to the generation used to satisfy subdivision (2) of this subsection (a) or energy transformation projects or a combination of such generation and projects.
(B) Required amounts. For the energy transformation category, the required amounts shall be two percent of each retail electricity provider's annual retail electric sales during the year beginning January 1, 2017, increasing by an additional two-thirds of a percent each subsequent January 1 until reaching 12 percent on and after January 1, 2032. However, in the case of a provider that is a municipal electric utility serving not more than 6,000 customers, the required amount shall be two percent of the provider's annual retail sales beginning on January 1, 2019, increasing by an additional two-thirds of a percent each subsequent January 1 until reaching 10 and two-thirds percent on and after January 1, 2032. Prior to January 1, 2019, such a municipal electric utility voluntarily may engage in one or more energy transformation projects in accordance with this subdivision (3).
(C) Eligibility criteria. For an energy transformation project to be eligible under this subdivision (a)(3), each of the following shall apply:
(i) Implementation of the project shall have commenced on or after January 1, 2015.
(ii) Over its life, the project shall result in a net reduction in fossil fuel consumed by the provider's customers and in the emission of greenhouse gases attributable to that consumption, whether or not the fuel is supplied by the provider.
(iii) The project shall meet the need for its goods or services at the lowest present value life cycle cost, including environmental and economic costs. Evaluation of whether this subdivision (iii) is met shall include analysis of alternatives that do not increase electricity consumption.
(iv) The project shall cost the utility less per MWH than the applicable alternative compliance payment rate.
(D) Conversion. For the purpose of determining eligibility and the application of the energy transformation project to a provider's annual requirement, the provider shall convert the net reduction in fossil fuel consumption resulting from the energy transformation project to a MWH equivalent of electric energy, in accordance with rules adopted by the Commission. The conversion shall use the most recent year's approximate heat rate for electricity net generation from the total fossil fuels category as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its Monthly Energy Review. If an energy transformation project is funded by more than one regulated entity, the Commission shall prorate the reduction in fossil fuel consumption among the regulated entities. In this subdivision (D), "regulated entity" includes each provider and each efficiency entity appointed under subsection 209(d) of this title.
(E) Other sources.
(i) A retail electricity provider or a provider's partner may oversee an energy transformation project under this subdivision (3). However, the provider shall deliver the project's goods or services in partnership with persons other than the provider unless exclusive delivery through the provider is more cost-effective than delivery by another person or there is no person other than the provider with the expertise or capability to deliver the goods or services.
(ii) An energy transformation project may provide incremental support to a program authorized under Vermont statute that meets the eligibility criteria of this subdivision (3) but may take credit only for the additional amount of service supported and shall not take credit for that program's regularly budgeted or approved investments.
(iii) To meet the requirements of this subdivision (3), one or more retail electricity providers may jointly propose with an energy efficiency entity appointed under subdivision 209(d)(2) of this title an energy transformation project or group of such projects. The proposal shall include standards of measuring performance and methods to allocate savings and reductions in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions among each participating provider and efficiency entity.
(F) Implementation. To carry out this subdivision (3), the Commission shall adopt rules:
(i) For the conversion methodology in accordance with subdivision (3)(D) of this subsection (a).
(ii) To provide a process for prior approval of energy transformation projects by the Commission or its designee. This process shall ensure that each of these projects meets the requirements of this subdivision (3) and need not consist of individual review of each energy transformation project prior to implementation as long as the mechanism ensures those requirements are met. An energy transformation project that commenced prior to initial adoption of rules under this subdivision (F) may seek approval after such adoption.
(iii) For cost-effectiveness screening of energy transformation projects. This screening shall be consistent with the provisions of this subdivision (3) and, as applicable, the screening tests developed under subsections 209(d) (energy efficiency) and 218c(a) (least-cost integrated planning) of this title.
(iv) To allow a provider who has met its required amount under this subdivision (3) in a given year to apply excess net reduction in fossil fuel consumption, expressed as a MWH equivalent, from its energy transformation project or projects during that year toward the provider's required amount in a future year.
(v) To ensure periodic evaluation of an energy transformation project's claimed fossil fuel reductions, avoided greenhouse gas emissions, conversion to MWH equivalent, cost-effectiveness and, if applicable, energy savings, and to ensure annual verification and auditing of a provider's claims regarding project completion and resulting MWH equivalent. Changes to project claims resulting from periodic evaluations shall not reduce retroactively claims made on behalf of a project approved under subdivision (3)(F)(ii) of this subsection (a) or reduce verified claims carried forward under subdivision (3)(F)(iv) of this subsection (a).
(vi) To ensure that all ratepayers have an equitable opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, energy transformation projects regardless of rate class, income level, or provider service territory.
(vii) To ensure the coordinated delivery of energy transformation projects with the delivery of similar services, including low-income weatherization programs, entities that fund and support affordable housing, energy efficiency programs delivered under section 209 of this title, and other energy efficiency programs delivered locally or regionally within the State.
(viii) To ensure that, if an energy transformation project will increase the use of electric energy, the project incorporates best practices for demand management, uses technologies appropriate for Vermont, and encourages the installation of the technologies in buildings that meet minimum energy performance standards.
(ix) To provide a process under which a provider may withdraw from or terminate, in an orderly manner, an ongoing energy transformation project that no longer meets the eligibility criteria because of one or more factors beyond the control of the project and the provider.
(G) Petitions. On petition of a retail electricity provider in any given year, the Commission may:
(i) reduce the provider's required amount under this subdivision (3) for that year, without penalty or alternative compliance payment, if the Commission finds that compliance with the required amount for that year will:
(I) cause the provider to increase significantly its retail rates; or
(II) materially impair the provider's ability to meet the public's need for energy services after safety concerns are addressed, in the manner set forth in subdivision 218c(a)(1) (least-cost integrated planning) of this title; or
(ii) allow a provider who failed to achieve the required amount under this subdivision (3) during the preceding year to avoid paying the alternative compliance payment if the Commission:
(I) finds that the provider made a good faith effort to achieve the required amount and its failure to achieve that amount resulted from market factors beyond its control; and
(II) directs that the provider add the difference between the required amount and the provider's actually achieved amount for that year to its required amount for one or more future years.
(4) Alternative compliance rates.
(A) The alternative compliance payment rates for the categories established by this subsection (a) shall be:
(i) total renewable energy requirement - $0.01 per kWh; and
(ii) distributed renewable generation and energy transformation requirements - $0.06 per kWh.
(B) The Commission shall adjust these rates for inflation annually commencing January 1, 2018, using the CPI.
(b) Reduced amounts; providers; 100 percent renewable.
(1) The provisions of this subsection shall apply to a retail electricity provider that:
(A) as of January 1, 2015, was entitled, through contract, ownership of energy produced by its own generation plants, or both, to an amount of renewable energy equal to or more than 100 percent of its anticipated total retail electric sales in 2017, regardless of whether the provider owned the environmental attributes of that renewable energy; and
(B) annually each July 1 commencing in 2018, owns and has retired tradeable renewable energy credits monitored and traded on the New England Generation Information System or otherwise approved by the Commission equivalent to 100 percent of the provider's total retail sales of electricity for the previous calendar year.
(2) A provider meeting the requirements of subdivision (1) of this subsection may:
(A) satisfy the distributed renewable generation requirement of this section by accepting net metering systems within its service territory pursuant to the provisions of this title that govern net metering; and
(B) if the Commission has appointed the provider as an energy efficiency entity under subsection 209(d) of this title, propose to the Commission to reduce the energy transformation requirement that would otherwise apply to the provider under this section.
(i) The provider may make and the Commission may review such a proposal in connection with a periodic submission made by the provider pursuant to its appointment under subsection 209(d) of this title.
(ii) The Commission may approve a proposal under this subdivision (B) if it finds that:
(I) the energy transformation requirement that would otherwise apply under this section exceeds the achievable potential for cost-effective energy transformation projects in the provider's service territory that meet the eligibility criteria for these projects under this section; and
(II) the reduced energy transformation requirement proposed by the provider is not less than the amount sufficient to ensure the provider's deployment or support of energy transformation projects that will acquire that achievable potential.
(iii) The measure of cost-effectiveness under this subdivision (B) shall be the alternative compliance payment rate established in this section for the energy transformation requirement.
(1) Distributed renewable generation that employs biomass to produce electricity shall be eligible to count toward a provider's distributed renewable generation or energy transformation requirement only if the plant produces both electricity and thermal energy from the same biomass fuel and the majority of the energy recovered from the plant is thermal energy.
(2) Distributed renewable generation and energy transformation projects that employ forest biomass to produce energy shall comply with renewability standards adopted by the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation under 10 V.S.A. § 2751.
(d) Hydropower. A hydroelectric renewable energy plant shall be eligible to satisfy the distributed renewable generation or energy transformation requirement only if, in addition to meeting the definition of distributed renewable generation, the plant:
(1) is and continues to be certified by the Low-impact Hydropower Institute; or
(2) after January 1, 1987, received a water quality certification pursuant to 33 U.S.C. § 1341 from the Agency of Natural Resources. (Added 2005, No. 61, § 4; amended 2005, No. 208 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2007, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 22; 2009, No. 45, § 4, eff. May 27, 2009; 2009, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 3, 4, 5, 8, eff. June 4, 2010; 2011, No. 47, § 8 (eff. May 25, 2011) and § 18; 2011, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 18, 2012; 2013, No. 34, § 19; 2015, No. 56, § 3; 2015, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)