VERMONT - The Vermont Department of Public Service issued a public review draft of energy planning determination standards and recommendations called for in Act 174, the state's Energy Development Improvement Act on September 26th, 2016.
The reason why the Department decided to issue draft energy planning standards is due to the fact that the Vermont legislature passed and Governor Shumlin signed a bill called Act 174 over the summer in 2016.
Components within Act 174 are aimed at integrating statewide energy planning with local and regional planning as a way to give towns and regional planning commissions a greater voice in overall energy projects for towns interested in helping Vermont towards its 90% renewable energy goal by the year of 2050.
Vermont Department of Public Service will be issuing final standards and recommendations by November 1st, 2016. Plans made by towns and regions should be given substantial deference as long as they are shown to be consistent with the statewide energy and climate policies.
The November 1st, 2016 deadline of final standards and recommendations will take effect right away. Deputy Commissioner, Jon Copans says that changing a town or regional energy plan doesn't happen overnight. "You really need to work collaborately in your community, you need to bring in interested stakeholders, it needs to be very much a public engagement process to write a plan," says Copans.
Copans went on to say that he will be surprised if many towns and regions across Vermont will be submitting their plans right away after the standards get issued on November 1st. The more likely scenario will be for towns and regions to look at the standards in Act 174 and figure out a game plan to make changes to a plan and then finally going through the process of making changes to the plan before submission to the Department of Public Service.
Meanwhile, though this process is already underway regionally because of supporting that effort from the department on a statewide level. There are eleven regional planning commissions in Vermont and Copans hopes that all these regions submit their plans to the Department of Public Service for determination of energy compliance in 2017.
"We're hopeful that what this does is that enables Vermonters to have conversations both sort of locally and on the regional level about how they believe is the best way for Vermont to pursue it's renewable energy and greenhouse gas goals," says Jon Copans.
These standards provides towns and regions a pathway to plan towards that energy transition that we all know we to make of greater renewable energy and fewer greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont.