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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.520

Introduced by Committee on Natural Resources and Energy

Date:

Subject:  Public service; renewable energy; economic development

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to establish as a state goal, by 2025, to produce 25 percent of the energy consumed within the state by means of renewable energy sources, particularly from Vermont’s farms and forests.  It proposes to amend the Act 250 definition of farming to exempt from the act more shipping of wastes for farm energy use and greater farm use of other renewable technologies.  It proposes to expand agricultural economic development assistance for renewable technologies.  It proposes to revise commercial building energy standards (CBES) to require “substantial” compliance, to allow issuance of variances and exemptions by the commissioner of public service, to prohibit unlicensed builders from issuing certifications for commercial buildings, to remove certain affidavit requirements, to require engineering consultants to certify their portion of the design, to require building contractors to certify that they built the building according to the construction contract documents, to allow certain reliance on subcontractors, to address actual building construction as well as design, to revise potential penalties for noncompliance, and to remove certain requirements for filing documents in the office of the town clerk.  It proposes to require investigations on the wider use of “smart” meters, the potential use of residential inclining block rate designs, and alternate rate designs to encourage more efficient use of electricity.  It proposes to revise net metering law to allow systems up to 250 kilowatts capacity, to allow group net metering, to increase to two percent the distribution company cap on how much it must accommodate, to require compliance with standard safety and other requirements that apply to other distributed generators, and to remove provisions regarding who gets renewable credits for farm systems.  It allows for the temporary siting of meteorological stations, and requires their removal.  It expands the extent to which increased output from existing renewables may be counted as SPEED resources.  It requires each distribution utility to offer renewable energy pricing or to enable contribution into a fund to develop those resources.  It amends the SPEED program to require the board to establish a standard contract price for certain resources and by explicitly encouraging more qualified SPEED resources by July 1, 2012.  It requires reports on how best to create the position of ombudsman to assist in the development of renewable energy projects and how best to implement a program to assist communities in assessing and developing renewable resources.  It proposes to require a report on the greater use of biodiesel by state government.  It proposes to establish a wind‑based electric generation facility tax.  It proposes to pass on a federal business solar tax credit.  Finally, it requires a public service board report on permitting mini‑hydroelectric projects, and an agency of natural resources report on water quality certification for mini‑hydroelectric projects. 

AN ACT RELATING TO THE CONSERVATION OF ENERGY AND INCREASING THE GENERATION OF ELECTRICITY WITHIN THE STATE BY USE OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES

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

* * * Renewable Energy Goal * * *

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 579 is added to read:

§ 579.  25 BY 25 STATE GOAL

(a)  It is a goal of the state, by the year 2025, to produce 25 percent of the energy consumed within the state through the use of renewable energy sources, particularly from Vermont’s farms and forests.

(b)  By no later than January 15, 2008, the secretary of agriculture, food and markets and the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall present to the committees on agriculture and natural resources and energy of the general assembly, and to the department of public service, a plan for attaining this goal.  Plan updates shall be presented no less frequently than every three years, thereafter, and a progress report shall be due annually on January 15.

(c)  The department of public service shall incorporate plans adopted under this section into the state comprehensive energy plan adopted under 30 V.S.A. § 202b.

* * * Act 250 Definition of Farming * * *

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(22) is amended to read:

(22)  “Farming” means:

(A)  the cultivation or other use of land for growing food, fiber, Christmas trees, maple sap, or horticultural and orchard crops; or

(B)  the raising, feeding, or management of livestock, poultry, fish, or bees; or

(C)  the operation of greenhouses; or

(D)  the production of maple syrup; or

(E)  the on‑site storage, preparation and sale of agricultural products principally produced on the farm; or

(F)  the on‑site production of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes principally produced on the farm, or other technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or below its natural rate pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 8002(2); or

(G)  the raising, feeding, or management of four or more equines owned or boarded by the farmer, including training, showing, and providing instruction and lessons in riding, training, and the management of equines.

* * * Agriculture Development Funds * * *

Sec. 3.  6 V.S.A. § 4710(g)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  Assistance from the agricultural economic development special account shall be available for:

(A)  Business and technical assistance for research and planning to aid a farmer or a group of farmers in developing business enterprises that harvest biomass, convert biomass to energy, or produce biofuel;

(B)  Implementation assistance to leverage other sources of capital to assist a farmer or group of farmers in purchasing equipment, technology, or other assistance to produce agricultural energy, harvest biomass, or convert biomass into energy or other technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or below its natural rate pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 8002(2); and

* * *

* * * Commercial Building Energy Standards * * *

Sec. 4.  21 V.S.A. § 268 is amended to read:

§ 268.  COMMERCIAL BUILDING ENERGY STANDARDS

(a)  Definitions.  For purposes of this subchapter, “commercial buildings” means all buildings that are not residential buildings as defined in subdivision 266(a)(2) of this title or farm structures as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 4413.

(1)  The following commercial buildings, or portions of those buildings, separated from the remainder of the building by thermal envelope assemblies complying with this section shall be exempt from the building thermal envelope provisions of the standards:

(A)  Those that do not contain conditioned space.

(B)  Those with a peak design rate of energy usage less than an amount specified in the commercial building energy standards (CBES) adopted under subsection (b) of this section.

(2)  These standards shall not apply to equipment or portions of building energy systems that use energy primarily to provide for industrial, or manufacturing, or commercial processes.

(b)  Adoption of commercial building energy standards.  Commercial building construction with respect to which no state or any local building permit application or application for construction plan approval by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to 20 V.S.A. chapter 173 has been submitted on or after January 1, 2007 shall be designed and constructed in substantial compliance with the standards contained in the 2005 Vermont Guidelines for Energy Efficient Commercial Construction, as those standards may be amended by administrative rule adopted by the commissioner of public service.

(c)  Revision and interpretation of energy standards.  On or about January 1, 2009, and at least every three years thereafter, the commissioner of public service shall amend and update the CBES by means of administrative rules adopted in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.  At least a year prior to final adoption of each required revision of the CBES, the department of public service shall convene an advisory committee to include one or more mortgage lenders,; builders, building designers,; architects; civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers; utility representatives,; and other persons with experience and expertise, such as consumer advocates and energy conservation experts.  The advisory committee may provide the commissioner of public service with additional recommendations for revision of the CBES.

(1)  Any amendments to the CBES shall be:

(A)  Consistent with duly adopted state energy policy, as specified in 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(B)  Evaluated relative to their technical applicability and reliability.

(2)  Each time the CBES are amended by the commissioner of public service, the amended CBES shall become effective upon a date specified in the adopted rule, a date that shall not be less than three months after the date of adoption.  Persons submitting an application for any state or local permit authorizing commercial construction, or an application for construction plan approval by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to 20 V.S.A. chapter 173, before the effective date of the amended CBES shall have the option of complying with the applicable provisions of the earlier or the amended CBES.  After the effective date of the original or the amended CBES, any person submitting such an application for any state or local permit authorizing commercial construction in an area subject to the CBES shall comply with the most recent version of the CBES.

(3)  The advisory committee convened under this subsection, in preparing for the CBES updates, shall advise the department of public service with respect to the coordination of the CBES amendments with existing and proposed demand‑side management programs offered in the state.

(4)  The commissioner is authorized to adopt rules interpreting and implementing the CBES.

(5)  The commissioner may grant written variances or exemptions from the CBES or rules adopted under this section where strict compliance would entail practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship, or is otherwise found unwarranted, provided that:

(A)  Any such variance or exemption shall be consistent with state energy policy, as specified in 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(B)  Any petitioner for such a variance or exemption can demonstrate that the methods, means, or practices proposed to be taken in lieu of compliance with the rule or rules provide, in the opinion of the commissioner, equal energy efficiency to that attained by compliance with the rule or rules.

(C)  A copy of any such variance or exemption shall be recorded by the petitioner in the land records of the city or town in which the building is located.

(D)  A record of each variance or exemption shall be maintained by the commissioner, together with the certifications received by the commissioner.

(d)  Certification requirement.  Commercial

(1)  The design of commercial buildings shall be certified by the primary designer as compliant with CBES in accordance with this subsection except as compliance is excused by a variance or exemption issued under subdivision (c)(5) of this section.  A This certification may be issued by a builder, a licensed professional engineer, or a licensed architect, or other licensed professional when required by law.  If certification is not issued by a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect, it shall be issued by the builder.  Any certification shall be accompanied by an affidavit and under this subsection shall certify that the designer acted in accordance with the designer’s professional duty of care in designing the building, and that the commercial construction meets building was designed in substantial compliance with the requirements of the CBES.  The department of public service will develop and make available to the public a certificate that lists key features requirements of the CBES and sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision (d)(1).  Any person certifying under this subdivision shall use this certificate or one substantially like it to certify compliance with CBES satisfy these certification obligations.  Certification shall be issued by completing and signing a certificate and permanently affixing it to the outside of the heating or cooling equipment, to the electrical service panel located inside the building, or in a visible location in the vicinity of one of these three areas.  The certificate shall certify that the building has been constructed in compliance with the requirements of the CBES.  The person certifying under this subsection shall provide a copy of each certificate to the department of public service and shall assure that a certificate is recorded and indexed in the town land records.  A builder may contract with a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect to issue certification and to indemnify the builder from any liability to the owner of the commercial construction caused by noncompliance with the CBES.  In certifying under this subsection, the certifying person may reasonably rely on one or more supporting affidavits received from other persons that contributed to the design affirming that the portions of the design produced by them were properly certifiable under this subsection.  The certifying person may contract for indemnification from those on which the person relies pursuant to this subdivision (1) against damages arising out of that reliance.

(2)  The construction of a commercial building shall be certified as compliant with CBES in accordance with this subsection, except as compliance is excused by a variance or exemption issued under subdivision (c)(5) of this section.  This certification shall be issued by the general contractor, construction manager, or other party having primary responsibility for coordinating the construction of the subject building, or in the absence of such a person, by the owner of the building.  Any certification shall certify that the subject commercial building was constructed in accordance with the ordinary standard of care applicable to the participating construction trades, and that the subject commercial building was constructed substantially in accordance with the construction documents including the plans and specifications certified under subdivision (1) of this subsection for that building.  The department of public service will develop and make available to the public a certificate that sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision.  The person certifying under this subdivision shall use that certificate or one substantially like it to satisfy these certification obligations.  Certification shall be issued by completing and signing a certificate and permanently affixing it to the outside of the heating or cooling equipment, to the electrical service panel located inside the building, or in a visible location in the vicinity of one of these three areas.  In certifying under this subdivision, the certifying person may reasonably rely on one or more supporting affidavits received from subcontractors or others engaged in the construction of the subject commercial building affirming that the portions of the building constructed by them were properly certifiable under this subdivision.  The certifying person may contract for indemnification from those on which the person relies pursuant to this subdivision (2) against damages arising out of that reliance.

(3)  Any person certifying under this subsection shall provide a copy of the person’s certificate and any accompanying affidavit to the department of public service and, in the instance of a public building as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2730(a), to the commissioner of public safety.

(4)  A certificate issued pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and a certificate issued pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be conditions precedent to issuance by the commissioner of public safety (or a municipal official acting under 20 V.S.A. § 2736) of any final occupancy permit required by the rules of the commissioner of public safety for use or occupancy of a commercial building that is also a public building as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2730(a).

(e)  Action for damages against a certifier.

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a person aggrieved by noncompliance with this section another person’s breach of that other person’s representations contained in a certification or supporting affidavit issued or received as provided under subsection (d) of this section, within ten years after the earlier of completion of construction or occupancy of the affected commercial building or portion of that building, may bring a civil action against a person who has the an obligation of certifying compliance under subsection (d) of this section alleging breach of the representations contained in that person’s certification.  This action may seek injunctive relief, damages arising from the aggrieved party’s reliance on the accuracy of those representations, court costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees in an amount to be determined by the court.  As used in this subdivision, “damages” means:

(A)  includes costs incidental to increased energy consumption; and

(B)  labor, materials, and other expenses associated with bringing the structure into compliance with CBES in effect on the date construction was commenced.

(2)  A person’s failure to affix the certification as required by this section shall not be an affirmative defense in such an action against the person.

(3)  The rights and remedies created by this section shall not be construed to limit any rights and remedies otherwise provided by law.

(4)  The right of action established in this subsection may not be waived by contract or other agreement.

(5)  It shall be a defense to an action under this subsection that either at the time of completion or at any time thereafter, the commercial building or portion of building covered by a certificate under subsection (d) of this section, as actually constructed, met or exceeded the overall performance standards established in the CBES in effect on the date construction was commenced.

(f)  Violation of section Enforcement.  Any person who falsely certifies knowingly makes a false certification under subsection (d) of this section, or any builder party who fails to certify under subsection (d) of this section when required to do so, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $250.00 per day, up to $10,000.00 for each year the violation continues.  Each violation shall constitute a separate offense, and each day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.

(g)  Title validity not affected.  A defect in marketable title shall not be created by a failure to record a variance or exemption pursuant to subdivision (c)(5) of this section or by a failure to issue certification or a certificate, as required under subsection (d) of this section, or by a failure under that subsection to: affix a certificate; or provide a copy of a certificate to the department of public service; or record and index a certificate in the town records or department of public safety.

* * * Smart Metering * * *

Sec. 5.  SMART METERING INVESTIGATION

(a)  The public service board shall investigate opportunities for Vermont electric utilities cost‑effectively to install advanced “smart” metering equipment capable of sending two‑way signals and sufficient to support advanced time‑of‑use pricing during periods of critical peaks or hourly differentiated time‑of‑use pricing. 

(b)  The scope of the investigation shall include the following:

(1)  The current status of implementing either advanced time‑of‑use rate designs or advanced metering by Vermont utilities.

(2)  Analysis of experience from other state jurisdictions and individual utility experience in planning and implementing programs that promote advanced time‑of‑use rate designs or advanced metering.

(3)  Opportunities for exploring ways to design pilot programs and share experience among Vermont utilities with the deployment of advanced meters and rate designs.

(4)  Analysis of all costs and benefits of installing advanced metering equipment, giving due consideration to the circumstances that differentiate Vermont utilities.

(5)  Analysis of opportunities for reducing short‑ and long‑term rates or mitigating rate impacts of investments in advanced metering and ancillary equipment through advanced time‑of‑use rate designs enabled by these investments.

(6)  Analysis of constraints or barriers to implementing this subsection, or opportunities presented by further deferring plans or commitments toward advanced metering equipment or rates.

(7)  Analysis of all supporting and ancillary equipment, equipment standards, and efficiency programs necessary to ensure that customers are adequately and effectively empowered to use and respond cost‑effectively to price signals made possible through advanced metering equipment.

(c)  After investigation, in utility territories where the board concludes it appropriate and cost‑effective, the board shall require each Vermont utility to file plans for investment and deployment of appropriate technologies and plans and strategies for implementing advanced pricing with a goal of ensuring that all ratepayer classes have an opportunity to receive and participate effectively in advanced time‑of‑use pricing plans.

(d)  By January 15, 2008, the public service board shall report interim progress in its investigation to the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy.

(e)  By June 15, 2008, the board shall issue a final report and plan for implementation. 

* * * Conservation Rates * * *

Sec. 6.  30 V.S.A. § 218(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The department of public service shall propose, and the board through the establishment of rates of return, rates, tolls, charges, or schedules shall encourage the implementation by electric and gas utilities of energy‑efficiency and load management measures which will be cost‑effective for the utilities and their customers on a life cycle cost basis.  The board shall approve rate designs to encourage the efficient use of natural gas and electricity, including consideration of the creation of an inclining block rate structure for residential rate customers with an initial block of low‑cost power available to all residences. 

(1)  To implement the requirements of this subsection, the public service board shall host one or more workshops to examine the following:

(A)  the parameters for residential inclining block rate designs;

(B)  alternative rate designs, such as critical peak pricing programs or more widespread use of time‑of‑day rates, that would encourage more efficient use of electricity;

(C)  the possible inclusion of exemptions from otherwise applicable inclining block rates or rate designs to encourage efficiency for situations in which special health needs or another extraordinary situation presents such a significant demand for electricity that the board determines use of those rates would cause undue financial hardship for the customer;

(2)  By June 15, 2008, the board shall issue a report and plan for implementation based upon the results of its investigation.  The plan shall require each retail company to upgrade its rates as necessary to implement  new rate designs appropriate to encourage efficient energy use, which shall include residential inclining block rates, if the board determines that those rates would be appropriate, by a specified date, or as part of its next rate‑related appearance before the board, or according to a timetable otherwise specified by the board.  In implementing these rate designs, the board shall consider the appropriateness of phasing in the rate design changes to allow large users of energy a reasonable opportunity to employ methods of conservation and energy efficiency in advance of the full effect of the changes.

* * * Net Metering * * *

Sec. 7.  30 V.S.A. § 219a is amended to read:

§ 219a.  SELF‑GENERATION AND NET METERING

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Customer” means a retail electric consumer who uses a net metering system.

(2)  “Net metering” means measuring the difference between the electricity supplied to a customer and the electricity fed back by a net metering system during the customer’s billing period:

(A)  using a single, nondemand meter or such other meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer’s usage but for the use of net metering; or

(B)  on farm or group systems, using multiple meters as specified in this chapter.  The calculation will be made by converting all meters to a nondemand, nontime‑of‑day meter, and equalizing them to the tariffed kilowatt‑hour rate.

(3)  “Net metering system” means a facility for generation of electricity that:

(A)  is of no more than 15 250 kilowatts (AC) capacity, or is a farm system;

* * *

(E)(i)  employs a renewable energy source as defined in subdivision 8002(2) of this title; or

(ii)  is a qualified micro-combined heat and power system of 20 kilowatts or less that meets the definition of combined heat and power in 10 V.S.A. § 6523(b) and may use any fuel source that meets air quality standards.

(4)  “Farm system” means a facility of no more than 150 250 kilowatts (AC) output capacity, except as provided in subdivision (k)(5) of this section, that generates electric energy on a farm operated by a person principally engaged in the business of farming, as that term is defined in Regulation 1.175‑3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, from the anaerobic digestion of agricultural products, byproducts, or wastes, or other renewable sources as defined in subdivision (3)(E) of this subsection, intended to offset the meters designated under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section on the farm or has entered into a contract as specified in subsection (k) of this section.

(b)  A customer shall pay the same rates, fees, or other payments and be subject to the same conditions and requirements as all other purchasers from the electric company in the same rate‑class, except as provided for in this section, and except for appropriate and necessary conditions approved by the board for the safety and reliability of the electric distribution system.

* * *

(f)  Consistent with the other provisions of this title, electric energy measurement for net metering farm or group net metering systems shall be calculated in the following manner:

(1)  Net metering customers that are farm or group net metering systems may credit on‑site generation against all meters designated to the farm system or group net metering system under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section.

(2)  Electric energy measurement for farm or group net metering systems shall be calculated by subtracting total usage of all meters included in the farm or group net metering system from total generation by the farm or group net metering system.  If the electricity generated by the farm or group net metering system is less than the total usage of all meters included in the farm or group net metering system during the billing period, the farm or group net metering system shall be credited for any accumulated kilowatt‑hour credit and then billed for the net electricity supplied by the electric company, in accordance with the procedures in subsection (g) of this section.

(3)  If electricity generated by the farm or group net metering system exceeds the electricity supplied by the electric company:

(A)  The farm or group net metering system shall be billed for the appropriate charges for each meter for that month, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

(B)  Excess kilowatt‑hours generated during the billing period shall be added to the accumulated balance with this kilowatt‑hour credit appearing on the bill for the following billing period.

(C)  Any accumulated kilowatt‑hour credits shall be used within 12 months or shall revert to the electric company without any compensation to the farm or group net metering system.  Power reverting to the electric company under this subdivision (3) shall be considered SPEED resources under section 8005 of this title.

(g)(1)  In addition to any other requirements of section 248 of this title and this section and board rules thereunder, before a net metering farm or group net metering system including more than one meter may be formed and served by an electric company, the proposed net metering farm or group net metering system shall file with the board, with copies to the department and the serving electric company, the following information:

(A)  the meters to be included in the farm or group net metering system, which shall be associated with the farm buildings and residences owned or occupied by the person operating the farm or group net metering system, or the person’s family or farm employees, or other members of the group, identified by account number and location;

(B)  a method for adding and removing meters included in the farm or group net metering system;

(C)  a designated person responsible for all communications from the farm or group net metering system to the serving electric company, for receiving and paying bills for any service provided by the serving electric company for the farm or group net metering system, and for receiving any other communications regarding the farm or group net metering system net metering; and

(D)  a binding process for the resolution of any disputes within the farm or group net metering system relating to net metering that does not rely on the serving electric company, the board, or the department.

(2)  The farm or group net metering system shall, at all times, maintain a written designation to the serving electric company of a person who shall be the sole person authorized to receive and pay bills for any service provided by the serving electric company, and for receiving to receive any other communications regarding the farm system, the group net metering system, or net metering.

(3)  The serving utility shall implement appropriate changes to the farm system or group net metering system within 30 days after receiving written notification from the designated person.  However, written notification of a change in the person designated under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be effective upon receipt by the serving utility.  The serving utility shall not be liable for action based on such notification, but shall make any necessary corrections and bill adjustments to implement revised notifications.

(4)  Pursuant to subsection 231(a) of this title, after such notice and opportunity for hearing as the board may require, the board may revoke a certificate of public good issued to a farm or group net metering system.

(5)  A group net metering system may consist only of customers that are located within the service area of the same electric company.  Various buildings owned by a municipality may constitute a group net metering system.  If it determines that it would promote the general good, the board shall permit a noncontiguous group of net metering customers to comprise a group net metering system.

(h)(1)  An electric company:

(A)  Shall make net metering available to any customer using a net metering system, group net metering system, or farm system on a first‑come, first‑served basis until the cumulative output capacity of net metering systems equals 1.0 2.0 percent of the distribution company’s peak demand during 1996; or the peak demand during the most recent full calendar year, whichever is greater.  The board may raise the 1.0 2.0 percent cap.  In determining whether to raise the cap, the board shall consider the following:

(i)  the costs and benefits of net metering systems already connected to the system; and

(ii)  the potential costs and benefits of exceeding the cap, including potential short and long‑term impacts on rates, distribution system costs and benefits, reliability and diversification costs and benefits;

(B)  Shall allow net metering systems to be interconnected using a kilowatt‑hour meter capable of registering the flow of electricity in two directions or such other comparably equipped meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer’s usage but for the use of net metering;

(C)  May, at its own expense, and with the written consent of the customer, install one or more additional meters to monitor the flow of electricity in each direction;

(D)  Shall Except as otherwise provided in this section, shall charge the customer a minimum monthly fee that is the same as for other customers of the electric distribution company in the same rate class, but shall not charge the customer any additional standby, capacity, interconnection, or other fee or charge;

(E)  May require a customer to comply with generation interconnection requirements, including studies, safety and reliability requirements, and fees, that are applicable to all distributed generators as determined by the public service board by rule or order, and may charge reasonable fees for interconnection, establishment, special metering, meter reading, accounting, account correcting, and account maintenance of net metering arrangements of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity;

(F)  May charge, if the capacity of the distribution system is insufficient for the designed generation, subject to determination by the board, a reasonable fee to cover the cost of electric company improvements necessary to distribute power;

(G)  May require that all meters included within a farm or group net metering system be read on the same billing cycle;

(H)  May book and defer, with carrying costs, additional incremental costs, to the extent that such costs are not recovered through charges, authorized in subdivisions (D), (E), and (F) of this subdivision (1), directly related to implementing net metering of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity;

(I)  Shall receive from a farm system, which is designed to produce less energy than the total annual load of the meters identified in subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section, any tradeable renewable credits for which the farm  system is eligible.  All other farm systems shall retain any tradeable renewable credits for which the farm is eligible;.

(2)  All such requirements shall be pursuant to and governed by a tariff approved by the board and any applicable board rule, which tariffs and rules shall be designed in a manner reasonably likely to facilitate net metering.

* * *

(j)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this section that define a net metering system as being of no more than 15 kilowatts (AC) capacity, the board may allow net metering for up to ten systems per year for customers that produce more than 15 kilowatts (AC) capacity, but do not produce more than 150 kilowatts of power and are not farm systems.

(k)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (f) and (g) of this section, an electric company may contract to purchase all or a portion of the output products from a farm or group net metering system, provided:

(1)  the farm or group net metering system obtains a certificate of public good under the terms of subsections (c) and (d) of this section;

(2)  any contracted power shall be subject to the limitations set forth in subdivision (h)(1) of this section;

(3)  any contract shall be subject to interconnection and metering requirements in subdivisions (h)(1)(C) and (i)(2) and (3) of this section;

(4)  any contract may permit all or a portion of the tradeable renewable energy credits for which the farm or group net metering system is eligible to be transferred to the electric company;

(5)  the output capacity of a system may exceed 150 250 kilowatts, provided:

(A)  the contract assigns the amount of power to be net metered;

(B)  the net metered amount does not exceed 150 250 kilowatts; and

(C)  only the amount assigned to net metering is assessed to the cap provided in subdivision (h)(1)(A) of this section.

* * * Temporary Meteorological Stations * * *

Sec. 8.  30 V.S.A. § 246 is added to read:

§ 246.  TEMPORARY SITING OF METEOROLOGICAL STATIONS

(a)  For purposes of this section, a “meteorological station” consists of one temporary tower, which may include guy wires, and attached instrumentation to collect and record wind speed, wind direction, and atmospheric conditions.

(b)  The public service board shall establish by rule or order standards and procedures governing application for, and issuance or revocation of, a certificate of public good for the temporary installation of one or more meteorological stations under the provisions of section 248 of this title.  A meteorological station shall be deemed to promote the public good of the state if it is in compliance with the criteria of this section and the board rules or orders.  An applicant for a certificate of public good for a meteorological station shall be exempt from the requirements of subsection 202(f) of this title.

(c)  In developing rules or orders, the board:

(1)  Shall develop a simple application form and shall require that completed applications be filed with the board, the department of public service, the agency of natural resources, and the municipality in which the meteorological station is proposed to be located.

(2)  Shall require that if no objections are filed within 30 days of the board’s receipt of a complete application and the board determines that the applicant has met all of the requirements of section 248 of this title, the certificate of public good shall be issued for a period that the board finds reasonable, but in no event for more than five years.  Upon request of an applicant, the board may renew a certificate of public good.  Upon expiration of the certificate, the meteorological station and all associated structures and material shall be removed, and the site shall be restored substantially to its preconstruction condition.

(3)  May waive the requirements of section 248 of this title that are not applicable to meteorological stations, including criteria that are generally applicable to public service companies as defined in this title.

(4)  Shall seek to simplify the application and review process, as appropriate, in conformance with this section.

(d)  A proposal for decision shall be issued within five months of when the board receives a completed application for a certificate of public good for the temporary installation of one or more meteorological stations under the provisions of section 248 of this title.

* * * Renewable Energy Pricing and Portfolio Standards * * *

Sec. 9.  30 V.S.A. § 8002(4) is amended to read:

(4)  “New renewable energy” means renewable energy produced by a generating resource coming into service after December 31, 2004.  This may include the additional energy from an existing renewable facility retrofitted with advanced technologies or otherwise operated, modified, or expanded to increase the kwh output of the facility in excess of an historical baseline established by calculating the average output of that facility for the 10‑year period that ended December 31, 2004.  If the production of new renewable energy through retrofitting expansion involves combustion of the resource, the system also must result in an incrementally higher level of energy conversion efficiency or significantly reduced emissions.  For the purposes of this chapter, renewable energy refers to either “existing renewable energy” or “new renewable energy.”


Sec. 10.  30 V.S.A. § 8003 is amended to read:

§ 8003.  RENEWABLE ENERGY PRICING

(a)  Upon petition of an electric company subject to this title, upon request of the department of public service, or on its own initiative, the public service board may approve one or more renewable pricing programs for one or more electric utilities; provided, however, in the case of a municipal plant or department formed under local charter or chapter 79 of this title, or an electric cooperative formed under chapter 81 of this title, any renewable pricing program approved by the board shall also be approved by a majority of the voters of a municipality or cooperative voting upon the question at a duly warned annual or special meeting held for that purpose.  Unless the board finds good cause to exempt a utility, by no later than July 1, 2008, each electric utility, municipal department formed under local charter or chapter 79 of this title, and each electric cooperative formed under chapter 81 of this title shall implement a renewable energy pricing program under this section for its customers, or shall offer customers the option of making a voluntary contribution to the Vermont clean energy development fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523.  Such renewable energy pricing programs may include, but are not limited to, tariffs, standard special contracts, or other arrangements whose purpose is to increase the company’s reliance on, or the customer’s support of, renewable sources of energy or the type and quantity of renewable energy resources available.

* * *

(f)  Renewable pricing programs offered by a company shall be available to such customer classes as the board may determine.

(g)  The board shall consider the following factors in deciding whether and upon what conditions to approve a proposed renewable energy pricing program:

(1)  minimization of marketing and administrative expenses;

(2)  auditing or certification of sources of energy or tradeable renewable energy credits;

(3)  marketing and promotion plans;

(4)  effectiveness of the program in meeting the goals of promoting renewable energy generation and public understanding of renewable energy sources in Vermont;

(5)  retention by the program of renewable energy production incentives, tax incentives and other incentives earned or otherwise obtained by energy resources acquired pursuant to or as part of a renewable energy pricing program approved under this section to reduce the cost of any premiums paid under this section; and

(6)  costs imposed on nonparticipating customers arising on account of the implementation of the voluntary renewable energy pricing program.

Sec. 11.  30 V.S.A. § 8004(e) is amended to read:

(e)  In lieu of, or in addition to purchasing tradeable renewable energy credits to satisfy the portfolio requirements of this section, a retail electricity provider in this state may pay to a renewable energy fund established by the public service board the Vermont clean energy development fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523 an amount per kilowatt hour as established by the board.  As an alternative, the board may require any proportion of this amount to be paid to the energy conservation fund established under subsection 209(d) of this title.

* * * SPEED Program * * *

Sec. 12.  30 V.S.A. § 8005 is amended to read:

§ 8005.  SUSTAINABLY PRICED ENERGY ENTERPRISE
  DEVELOPMENT (SPEED) PROGRAM

* * *

(b)  The SPEED program shall be established, by rule, order, or contract, by the public service board by January 1, 2007.  As part of the SPEED program, the public service board may, and in the case of subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection shall:

* * *

(2)  allow the developer of a facility that is one megawatt or less, and is a qualifying SPEED resource or a nonqualifying SPEED resource, to sell that power under a long term contract that is established at a specified margin below the hourly spot market price determined by the board to be adequate to promote SPEED resource development while remaining consistent with the principles of least‑cost energy services under section 218c of this title.  For purposes of this section, a long‑term contract should be 15 years or greater unless the board finds good cause for a shorter term;

(3)  encourage Vermont’s retail electricity providers to secure long‑term  contracts, at stable prices, for renewable energy that are anticipated to be below the long‑term market price, over the lives of the projects qualifying SPEED resources.  The board shall create a standard contract price, or a set of maximum and minimum provisions, or both, for qualifying SPEED resources over 1 MW of capacity.  In setting a standard contract price for a qualifying SPEED resource, the board shall consider the goal of developing qualified SPEED resources least cost provision of energy service under section 218c and the impact on electric rates.  The board may create a competitive bid process through which to select a portion of those contracts;

* * *

(d)(1)  The public service board shall meet on or before January 1, 2012, and open a proceeding, and issue findings determining to determine the total amount of qualifying SPEED resources that have come into service or are projected to come into service during the period of time between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2013 been supplied to Vermont retail electricity providers or have been issued a certificate of public good.  If the board finds that the amount of qualifying SPEED resources coming into service during that time or having been issued a certificate of public good after January 1, 2005 and before July 1, 2012 equals or exceeds total statewide growth in electric energy usage retail sales during the period of time between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2012 that time, and in addition, at least five percent of the 2005 total statewide electric retail sales is provided by qualified SPEED resources, or if it finds that the amount of qualifying SPEED resources equals or exceeds 10 percent of total statewide electric energy usage retail sales for calendar year 2005, the portfolio standards established under this chapter shall not be in force.  The board shall make its determination by July 1, 2012 January 1, 2013.  If the board finds that the goal established has not been met, one year after the board’s determination the portfolio standards established under subsection 8004(b) of this title shall take effect.

(2)  A state goal is to assure that 20 percent of total statewide electric retail sales before July 1, 2017 shall be generated by speed resources.  The public service board shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and to the joint energy committee by December 15, 2012 with regard to the state’s progress in meeting this goal.  In addition, the board shall report to the the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and to the joint energy committee by December 15, 2014 with regard to the state’s progress in meeting this goal and, if necessary, shall include any appropriate recommendations for measures that will make attaining the goal more likely.

(3)  For the purposes of the determination to be made under this subsection, electricity produced at all facilities owned by or under long-term contract to Vermont retail electricity providers, whether it is generated inside or outside Vermont, that is new renewable energy shall be counted in the calculations under subdivision subdivisions (d)(1) and (2) of this section.

* * *

* * * Assistance * * *

Sec. 13.  REPORTS ON OMBUDSMAN AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
 FOR COMMUNITIES

Technical assistance.  By no later than January 15, 2008, the public service department, after consultation with the public service board and the clean energy development fund investment committee established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523(e)(1)(B), shall report to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy with a recommended program by which the state may best:

(1)  establish and fund an office of ombudsman, which would be charged with assisting those who desire to develop renewable energy projects in dealing with the regulatory process;

(2)  establish and fund a program to provide communities with assistance in assessing their renewable energy resources and the potential for development of those resources, and in evaluating, selecting, and implementing reasonable alternatives for financing the construction of those renewable energy resources.

* * * Biodiesel * * *

Sec. 14.  USE OF BIODIESEL IN STATE OFFICE BUILDINGS, STATE
               GARAGES, AND THE STATE VEHICLE FLEET

(a)  Definitions.  As used in this section:

(1)  “Biodiesel blend” means a blend of biodiesel fuel and petroleum diesel fuel or petroleum heating fuel that contains at least two percent biodiesel fuel by volume.

(2)  “Biodiesel fuel” means a renewable, biodegradable, mono alkyl ester combustible liquid fuel derived from vegetable oil or animal fat which meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specification D6751‑02 for Biodiesel Fuel (B100) Blend Stock for Distillate Fuel.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2008, the department of buildings and general services, department of public service, and agency of transportation jointly shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the house and senate committees on transportation, the house and senate committees on agriculture, the house committee on commerce, the house committee on ways and means, and the senate committee on finance with recommendations on increasing the use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings, state garages, and in the state transportation fleet. 

(1)  The portion of the report prepared by the department of buildings and general services shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings.

(B)  Recommendations on how to increase the use of biodiesel blends in all state office buildings, wherever feasible, to at least five percent biodiesel (B5) by December 31, 2008, and to at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10) by 2012.

(C)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state buildings.

(D)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(2)  The portion of the report prepared by the department of public service shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the biodiesel fuel production capacity, storage facilities, and distribution facilities currently available in Vermont.

(B)  Recommendations for increasing biodiesel fuel production, storage facilities, and distribution facilities.

(C)  A summary of current information on the performance of biodiesel blends for use as heating fuel and as a motor vehicle fuel.

(D)  A summary of the national and regional quality assurance and quality control measures in use for blending biodiesel fuel.

(E)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(3)  The portion of the report prepared by the agency of transportation shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state garages and the state transportation fleet.

(B)  Recommendations on how to increase the use of biodiesel blends in state garages and in the state transportation fleet, wherever feasible, to at least five percent biodiesel (B5) by December 31, 2008, and to at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10) by 2012.

(C)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state garages and the state transportation fleet.

(D)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(c)  The department of public service, with representatives of the department of buildings and general services and the agency of transportation present, shall conduct at least one public hearing to review the draft report and to solicit comments prior to finalizing the report.

* * * Wind Powered Electric Generating Facilities * * *

Sec. 15.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(10)(J) is added to read:

(10)  “Nonresidential property” means all property except:

* * *

(J)  Buildings and fixtures subject to the tax on wind-powered electric generating facilities under section 5402c of this title.

Sec. 16.  32 V.S.A. § 5402c is added to read:

§ 5402c.  WIND-POWERED ELECTRIC GENERATING FACILITIES TAX

(a)  A facility certified by the commissioner of public service as a facility which produces electrical energy for resale, generated solely from wind power, which has an installed capacity of at least five megawatts, which was placed in service after January 1, 2007, and which holds a valid certificate of public good issued under 30 V.S.A. § 248, shall be assessed an alternative education property tax on its buildings and fixtures used directly and exclusively in generation of electrical energy from wind power.  The tax shall be imposed at a rate of $0.003 per kWh of electrical energy produced by the certified facility, as determined by the public service department for the six months ending April 30 and the six months ending October 31 each year.

(b)  The tax imposed by this section shall be paid to the commissioner of taxes by the person or entity then owning or operating the certified facility, by December 1 for the period ending October 31 and by June 1 for the period ending April 30, for deposit into the education fund.  A person or entity failing to make returns or pay the tax imposed by this section within the time required shall be subject to and governed by the provisions of sections 3202 and 3203 and subchapters 8 and 9 of chapter 151 of this title.

(c)  Buildings and fixtures subject to the education property tax under this section shall not be taken into account in determining the common level of appraisal for the municipality.

Sec. 17.  MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAXES UNAFFECTED

Application of alternative education property tax to a wind-powered electric generating facility under 32 V.S.A. § 5402c shall have no effect upon the assessment of municipal taxes upon that facility by any municipality in this state.

* * * Business Energy Credit * * *

Sec. 18.  32 V.S.A. § 5822(c)(1)(B) and (d) are amended to read:

(c)  The amount of tax determined under subsection (a) of this section shall be:

(1)  increased by 24 percent of the taxpayer’s federal tax liability for the taxable year for the following:

* * *

(B)  recapture of federal investment tax credit and increased by 76 percent of the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year;

(d)  A taxpayer shall be entitled to a credit against the tax imposed under this section of 24 percent of each of the credits allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year as follows:  elderly and permanently totally disabled credit, investment tax credit, and child care and dependent care credits.  A taxpayer shall also be entitled to a credit against the tax imposed under this section of 76 percent of the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Sec. 19.  32 V.S.A. § 5930z is added to read:

§ 5930z.  Pass‑Through of Federal Energy Credit for
                Corporations

(a)  A taxpayer of this state shall be eligible for a credit against the tax imposed under section 5832 of this title in an amount equal to the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code. 

(b)  Any taxpayer who has received a credit under subsection (a) of this section in any prior year shall increase its corporate income tax under this chapter by the amount of the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year.  

Sec. 20.  EFFECTIVE DATE OF BUSINESS ENERGY TAX CREDITS

Secs. 18 and 19 of this act (business energy tax credits) shall apply to taxable years 2008 and after.

* * * Mini‑Hydro Reports * * *

Sec. 21.  PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD REPORT ON PERMITTING
              MINI‑HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS

Prior to December 15, 2007, the public service board shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy with a recommendation for a simple, predictable, and environmentally sound process, other than the process set forth in subsection 248(j) of Title 30, for issuing a certificate of public good under section 248 of Title 30 for mini‑hydroelectric projects.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend criteria for determining what constitutes a mini‑hydroelectric facility, including the allowable maximum amount of output capacity at the facility and the type of eligible facilities, natural features, or other sites.

(2)  Address permit application requirements, including ownership of the facility and structural safety of the mini‑hydroelectric project.

(3)  Address additional uses of the mini‑hydroelectric project such as flood control; fish and wildlife habitat; recreation; water supply; historic resource; and structural grade control for infrastructure, roads, bridges, and houses.

(4)  Address the use of flashboards to increase upstream flooding.

(5)  Address measures to prevent fish from entering turbines and penstocks.

(6)  Address the size of authorized diversions and penstocks.

(7)  Recommend, after consultation with the agency of natural resources, how to establish and fund an ombudsman to assist individuals seeking a certificate of public good for a mini‑hydroelectric facility.  The board’s proposal shall analyze how the ombudsman would coordinate with the agency of natural resources regarding application for water quality certification and the feasibility and effectiveness of incorporating the ombudsman for mini‑hydroelectric facilities into the ombudsman for renewable energy at the agency of agriculture, food and markets.


Sec. 22.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES REPORT ON WATER
   QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR MINI‑HYDROELECTRIC
   PROJECTS

Prior to December 15, 2007, the secretary of natural resources shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy with a recommendation for a simple, predictable, and environmentally sound procedure for completing a water quality certification review of mini‑hydroelectric projects as required by Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend, after consultation with the public service board, criteria for determining what constitutes a mini‑hydroelectric facility, including the allowable maximum amount of output capacity at the facility and the type of eligible facilities, natural features, or other sites;

(2)  Address bypass flows for mini‑hydroelectric projects.

(3)  Address the need for monitoring of dissolved oxygen at mini‑hydroelectric facilities.

(4)  Address seasonal flows in bypasses at run‑of‑river facilities. 

(5)  Address the need for new fish or flow studies for mini‑hydroelectric projects. 


Sec. 23.  REPORT ON STATUS OF SPEED PROGRAM

By no later than January 15, 2008, the public service board shall report to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy with an evaluation of the likelihood of qualifying SPEED resources coming into service in time to meet the standards established in 30 V.S.A. § 8005(d), as amended by this act.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us