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NO. 60. AN ACT RELATING TO THE ABILITY OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD TO REQUIRE THAT ENERGY CONSERVATION SERVICES BE DEVELOPED AND PROVIDED BY AN ENTITY APPOINTED BY THE BOARD.

(S.137)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 30 V.S.A. § 209 is amended to read:

§ 209. JURISDICTION; GENERAL SCOPE

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(d)(1) The public service department *[and]*, any entity appointed by the board under subdivision (2) of this subsection, all gas and electric utility companies, and the board upon its own motion, are encouraged to propose, develop, solicit and monitor energy efficiency and conservation programs and measures. Such programs and measures, and their implementation, may be approved by the board if it determines they will be beneficial to the ratepayers of the companies after such notice and hearings as the board may require by order or by rule.

(2) In place of utility-specific programs developed pursuant to section 218c of this title, the board may, after notice and opportunity for hearing, provide for the development, implementation, and monitoring of gas and electric energy efficiency and conservation programs and measures, including programs and measures delivered in multiple service territories, by one or more entities appointed by the board for these purposes. The board may specify that the implementation of these programs and measures satisfies a utility's corresponding obligations, in whole or in part, under section 218c of this title and under any prior orders of the board.

(3) In addition to its existing authority, the board may establish by order or rule a volumetric charge to customers for the support of energy efficiency programs that meet the requirements of section 218c of this title. The charge shall be known as the energy efficiency charge, shall be shown separately on each customer's bill, and shall be paid to a fund administrator appointed by the board. When such a charge is shown, notice as to how to obtain information about energy efficiency programs approved under this section shall be provided in a manner directed by the board. This notice shall include, at a minimum, a toll free telephone number, and to the extent feasible shall be on the customer's bill and near the energy efficiency charge. Funds collected through an energy efficiency charge shall not be funds of the state, shall not be available to meet the general obligations of the government, and shall not be included in the financial reports of the state. The board will annually provide the legislature with a report detailing the revenues collected and the expenditures made for energy efficiency programs under this section.

(4) The charge established by the board pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection shall not exceed the amount needed to provide $17,500,000.00 to support all energy efficiency programs for Vermonters authorized by the board by rule or order pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection in any fiscal year. No more than $17,500,000.00 of financial support for energy efficiency programs for Vermonters shall be authorized by the board by rule or order pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection in any fiscal year.

(e) The board shall:

(1) Ensure that all retail consumers, regardless of retail electricity or gas provider, will have an opportunity to participate in and benefit from a comprehensive set of cost-effective energy efficiency programs and initiatives designed to overcome barriers to participation.

(2) Require that continued or improved efficiencies be made in the production, delivery, and use of energy efficiency services.

(3) Build on the energy efficiency expertise and capabilities that have developed or may develop in the state.

(4) Promote program initiatives and market strategies that address the needs of persons or businesses facing the most significant barriers to participation.

(5) Promote coordinated program delivery, including coordination with low income weatherization programs, other efficiency programs, and utility programs.

(6) Consider innovative approaches to delivering energy efficiency, including strategies to encourage third party financing and customer contributions to the cost of efficiency measures.

(7) Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle and promote program improvement, program stability, and maturation of programs and delivery resources.

(8) Approve programs, measures, and delivery mechanisms that reasonably reflect current and projected market conditions, technological options, and environmental benefits.

(9) Provide for delivery of these programs as rapidly as possible, taking into consideration the need for these services, and cost-effective delivery mechanisms.

(10) Provide for the independent evaluation of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section.

(11) Require that any entity approved by the board under subsection (d) of this section deliver board-approved programs in an effective, efficient, timely, and competent manner and meet standards that are consistent with those in section 218c of this title, the board's orders in public service board docket 5270, and any relevant board orders in subsequent energy efficiency proceedings.

(12) Require verification, on or before January 1, 2003, and every three years thereafter, by an independent auditor of the reported energy and capacity savings and cost-effectiveness of programs delivered by any entity appointed by the board to deliver energy efficiency programs under subdivision (d)(2) of this section.

(13) Ensure that any energy efficiency program approved by the board shall be reasonable and cost-effective.

Sec. 2. 30 V.S.A. § 218c is amended to read:

§ 218c. LEAST COST INTEGRATED PLANNING

(a)(1) A "least cost integrated plan" for a regulated electric or gas utility is a plan for meeting the public's need for energy services, after safety concerns are addressed, at the lowest present value life cycle cost, including environmental and economic costs, through a strategy combining investments and expenditures on energy supply, transmission and distribution capacity, transmission and distribution efficiency, and comprehensive energy efficiency programs.

(2) "Comprehensive energy efficiency programs" shall mean a coordinated set of investments or program expenditures made by a regulated electric or gas utility or other entity as approved by the board pursuant to subsection 209(d) of this title to meet the public's need for energy services through efficiency, conservation or load management in all customer classes and areas of opportunity which is designed to acquire the full amount of cost effective savings from such investments or programs.

(b) Each regulated electric or gas company shall prepare and implement a least cost integrated plan for the provision of energy services to its Vermont customers. Proposed plans shall be submitted to the department of public service and the public service board. The board, after notice and hearing, may approve a company's least cost integrated plan if it determines that the company's plan complies with the requirements of subdivision (a)(1) of this section.

(c) *[Nothing in this section shall reduce the existing obligation of a regulated gas or electric company to acquire cost-effective supply and demand side resources pending proposal and approval of an integrated resource plan.]*

Sec. 3. APPLICABILITY

This act shall apply to the pending proceeding in docket 5980 before the public service board and to any pending challenges to the board's jurisdiction to authorize and fund an entity, independent of the electric utilities, to deliver energy efficiency programs.

Sec. 4. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.

Approved: June 1, 1999