The Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
§ 8124. Clean Heat Standard compliance
(a) Required amounts.
(1) The Commission shall establish the number of clean heat credits that each obligated party is required to retire each calendar year. The size of the annual requirement shall be set at a pace sufficient for Vermont’s thermal sector to achieve lifecycle carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emission reductions consistent with the requirements of 10 V.S.A. § 578(a)(2) and (3) expressed as lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions pursuant to subsection 8127(g) of this title.
(2) Annual requirements shall be expressed as a percent of each obligated party’s contribution to the thermal sector’s lifecycle CO2e emissions in the previous year. The annual percentage reduction shall be the same for all obligated parties. To ensure understanding among obligated parties, the Commission shall publicly provide a description of the annual requirements in plain terms.
(3) To support the ability of the obligated parties to plan for the future, the Commission shall establish and update annual clean heat credit requirements for the next 10 years. Every three years, the Commission shall extend the requirements three years; shall assess emission reductions actually achieved in the thermal sector; and, if necessary, revise the pace of clean heat credit requirements for future years to ensure that the thermal sector portion of the emission reduction requirements of 10 V.S.A. § 578(a)(2) and (3) for 2030 and 2050 will be achieved.
(4) The Commission may temporarily, for a period not to exceed 36 months, adjust the annual requirements for good cause after notice and opportunity for public process. Good cause may include a shortage of clean heat credits, market conditions as identified by the Department’s potential study conducted pursuant to section 8125 of this title, or undue adverse financial impacts on particular customers or demographic segments. The Commission shall ensure that any downward adjustment has the minimum impact possible on the State’s ability to comply with the thermal sector portion of the requirements of 10 V.S.A. § 578(a)(2) and (3).
(b) Annual registration.
(1) Each entity that sells heating fuel into or in Vermont shall register annually with the Commission by an annual deadline established by the Commission. The first registration deadline is January 31, 2024, and the annual deadline shall remain January 31 of each year unless a different deadline is established by the Commission. The form and information required in the registration shall be determined by the Commission and shall include all data necessary to establish annual requirements under this chapter. The Commission shall use the information provided in the registration to determine whether the entity shall be considered an obligated party and the amount of its annual requirement.
(2) At a minimum, the Commission shall require registration information to include legal name; doing business as name, if applicable; municipality; state; types of heating fuel sold; and the exact amount of gallons of each type of heating fuels sold into or in the State for final sale or consumption in the State in the calendar year immediately preceding the calendar year in which the entity is registering with the Commission, separated by type, that was purchased by the submitting entity and the name and location of the entity from which it was purchased.
(3) Each year, and not later than 30 days following the annual registration deadline established by the Commission, the Commission shall share complete registration information of obligated parties with the Agency of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Service for purposes of updating the Vermont Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Forecast and meeting the requirements of 10 V.S.A. § 591(b)(3).
(4) The Commission shall maintain, and update annually, a list of registered entities on its website that contains the required registration information.
(5) For any entity not registered on or before January 31, 2024, the first registration form shall be due 30 days after the first sale of heating fuel to a location in Vermont.
(6) Clean heat requirements shall transfer to entities that acquire an obligated party.
(7) Entities that cease to operate shall retain their clean heat requirement for their final year of operation.
(c) Early action credits. Beginning on January 1, 2023, clean heat measures that are installed and provide emission reductions are creditable. Upon the establishment of the clean heat credit system, entities may register credits for actions taken starting in 2023.
(d) Equitable distribution of clean heat measures.
(1) The Clean Heat Standard shall be designed and implemented to enhance social equity by prioritizing customers with low income, moderate income, those households with the highest energy burdens, residents of manufactured homes, and renter households with tenant-paid energy bills. The design shall ensure all customers have an equitable opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, clean heat measures regardless of heating fuel used, income level, geographic location, residential building type, or homeownership status.
(2) Of their annual requirement, each obligated party shall retire at least 16 percent from customers with low income and an additional 16 percent from customers with low or moderate income. For each of these groups, at least one-half of these credits shall be from installed clean heat measures that require capital investments in homes, have measure lives of 10 years or more, and are estimated by the Technical Advisory Group to lower annual energy bills. Examples shall include weatherization improvements and installation of heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and advanced wood heating systems. The Commission may identify additional measures that qualify as installed measures.
(3) The Commission shall, to the extent reasonably possible, frontload the credit requirements for customers with low income and moderate income so that the greatest proportion of clean heat measures reach Vermonters with low income and moderate income in the earlier years.
(4) With consideration to how to best serve customers with low income and moderate income, the Commission shall have authority to change the percentages established in subdivision (2) of this subsection for good cause after notice and opportunity for public process. Good cause may include a shortage of clean heat credits or undue adverse financial impacts on particular customers or demographic segments.
(5) In determining whether to exceed the minimum percentages of clean heat measures that must be delivered to customers with low income and moderate income, the Commission shall take into account participation in other government-sponsored low-income and moderate-income weatherization programs. Participation in other government-sponsored low-income and moderate-income weatherization programs shall not limit the ability of those households to participate in programs under this chapter.
(6) A clean heat measure delivered to a customer qualifying for a government-sponsored, low-income energy subsidy shall qualify for clean heat credits required by subdivision (2) of this subsection.
(7) Customer income data collected shall be kept confidential by the Commission, the Department of Public Service, the obligated parties, and any entity that delivers clean heat measures.
(e) Credit banking. The Commission shall allow an obligated party that has met its annual requirement in a given year to retain clean heat credits in excess of that amount for future sale or application to the obligated party’s annual requirements in future compliance periods, as determined by the Commission.
(1) The Commission shall have the authority to enforce the requirements of this chapter and any rules or orders adopted to implement the provisions of this chapter. The Commission may use its existing authority under this title. As part of an enforcement order, the Commission may order penalties and injunctive relief.
(2) The Commission shall order an obligated party that fails to retire the number of clean heat credits required in a given year, including the required amounts from customers with low income and moderate income, to make a noncompliance payment to the default delivery agent for the number of credits deficient. The per-credit amount of the noncompliance payment shall be two times the amount established by the Commission for timely per-credit payments to the default delivery agent.
(3) However, the Commission may waive the noncompliance payment required by subdivision (2) of this subsection for an obligated party if the Commission:
(A) finds that the obligated party made a good faith effort to acquire the required amount and its failure resulted from market factors beyond its control; and
(B) directs the obligated party to add the number of credits deficient to one or more future years.
(4) False or misleading statements or other representations made to the Commission by obligated parties related to compliance with the Clean Heat Standard are subject to the Commission’s enforcement authority, including the power to investigate and assess penalties, under this title.
(5) The Commission’s enforcement authority does not in any way impede the enforcement authority of other entities such as the Attorney General’s office.
(6) Failure to register with the Commission as required by this section is a violation of the Consumer Protection Act in 9 V.S.A. chapter 63.
(g) Records. The Commission shall establish requirements for the types of records to be submitted by obligated parties, a record retention schedule for required records, and a process for verification of records and data submitted in compliance with the requirements of this chapter.
(1) As used in this subsection, “standing committees” means the House Committee on Environment and Energy and the Senate Committees on Finance and on Natural Resources and Energy.
(2) After the adoption of the rules implementing this chapter, the Commission shall submit a written report to the standing committees detailing the efforts undertaken to establish the Clean Heat Standard pursuant to this chapter.
(3) On or before January 15 of each year following the year in which the rules are first adopted under this chapter, the Commission shall submit to the standing committees a written report detailing the implementation and operation of the Clean Heat Standard. This report shall include an assessment on the equitable adoption of clean heat measures required by subsection (d) of this section, along with recommendations to increase participation for the households with the highest energy burdens. The provisions of 2 V.S.A. § 20(d) (expiration of required reports) shall not apply to the report to be made under this subsection.
(i) LIHEAP pricing. The Margin Over Rack pricing program for fuel assistance shall reflect the default delivery agent credit cost established by the Commission. (Added 2023, No. 18, § 3, eff. May 12, 2023.)