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BILL AS PASSED BY SENATE 2007-2008

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S.94

AN ACT RELATING TO establishing an expanded efficiency utility and other matters relating to energy conservation and decreasing the generation of greenhouse gases

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

* * * Energy Efficiency Services Fund * * *

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. § 203a is added to read:

§ 203a.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY SERVICES

(a)  Purpose.  The general assembly finds and determines that:

(1)  it is the policy of the state to assure the efficient use of energy resources and cost‑effective demand management, as specified in section 202a of this title;

(2)  a comprehensive state energy plan, as is specified in section 202b of this title, must be developed to implement this state energy policy;

(3)  it is appropriate to build upon the work in reducing energy costs for Vermonters already done by the existing efficiency utility established under the authority of section 209 of this title, and to integrate that work into a broader program implemented through an expanded energy efficiency utility that will serve the needs of the people of the state in an even better manner;

(4)  current energy efficiency programs are not designed to meet fully the thermal efficiency needs of consumers who rely on heating oil, kerosene, propane, and coal, as they are funded through efficiency charges that may be assessed only on electricity and natural gas providers regulated by the board;

(5)  with the growing certainty that global climate change is caused in significant part by human activities that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it is particularly important to reduce the extent to which these emissions result from the inefficient use of carbon‑containing fuels, regardless of the nature of the source;

(6)  it is desirable for the state to lower the risk of high fuel prices and vulnerable supplies, while at the same time strengthening the Vermont economy by establishing a system to promote all forms of energy end‑use efficiency, comprehensive sustainable building design, and integrated renewable energy installations.

(b)  Energy efficiency services fund.  The public service board shall establish an energy efficiency services fund to be managed by a fund administrator appointed by the board under this section and section 209(d)(2) of this title.  The energy efficiency services fund shall contain such sums as appropriated by the general assembly or as otherwise provided by law.  Balances in the fund and interest earned shall be carried forward and remain in the fund at the end of each fiscal year.

(c)  Use of the fund.  Funds appropriated by the legislature to the energy efficiency services fund shall be used to support the delivery of energy efficiency services to Vermont heating and process fuel consumers of oil, kerosene, propane, coal, and wood; and to carry out cost‑effective efficiency measures and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from sectors other than, or in addition to, the regulated electricity and natural gas use sectors.  These energy efficiency services shall be provided by the energy efficiency utility appointed by the board under subsection (d) of section 209 of this title and operating within the revised utility efficiency structure established under subsections (g) and (h) of section 209 of this title.

(d)  Review of adequacy of the fund.  On or before January 15, 2011, the public service board shall report to the legislature on the expenditure of funds from the energy efficiency services fund to meet the public’s needs for energy efficiency services.  The report shall be developed through a collaborative process involving representatives of heating fuel dealers, electric and gas utilities, the expanded energy efficiency utility, the department of public service, residential and business consumer representatives, environmental advocates, entities currently engaged in delivering weatherization services, and other stakeholders identified by the board.  The report shall address:  the need for and availability of alternative revenue sources that may be dedicated to the energy efficiency fund; the resources dedicated to energy efficiency purposes provided through electric and natural gas rates; an evaluation of potential cost‑effective energy efficiency investments and programs designed to meet the need for energy services through efficiency or conservation in all customer classes and areas of opportunity; the amount of funding necessary in order to realize all reasonably available, cost‑effective energy efficiency savings; and other factors to assure consistency with the purposes of this section and the goals of section 202a of this title.  In the report, the board shall recommend an appropriate balance among the following objectives:  reducing the size of future heating and process-fuel purchases; reducing the generation of greenhouse gases; providing efficiency and conservation as a part of a comprehensive resource supply strategy; providing the opportunity for all Vermonters to participate in efficiency and conservation programs; providing that residential and commercial sector benefits generally shall be proportional to sector contributions to the extent such proportion can be determined; and targeting efficiency and conservation efforts to locations, markets, or customers where they may provide the greatest value.

* * * Revised Efficiency Utility Structure * * *

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 209(g) and (h) are added to read:

(g)  No later than January 1, 2009, consistent with the provisions of subsections (d) and (e) of this section, the board shall adopt a revised efficiency utility structure in order to:

(1)  establish a process for the appointment and revocation of  appointment to serve as the energy efficiency utility similar to those in effect for regulated utilities in Vermont;

(2)  provide for regulatory oversight by the board and the department of public service that is appropriate to the structure and purpose of the expanded energy efficiency utility;

(3)  base some or all of the expanded energy efficiency utility’s compensation on verified savings in energy usage and demand, and other performance targets specified by the board and consistent with the provisions of section 202a of this title;

(4)  clarify the relationship between the energy efficiency utility and the City of Burlington Electric Department and Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. under which the city and the Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. may continue to provide some or all energy efficiency services in their respective service territories if approved by the board;

(5)  continue the delivery of electric efficiency programs consistent with the relevant provisions of subsection (e) of this section;

(6)  expand the energy efficiency utility’s responsibilities to include thermal efficiency and the development of a comprehensive building efficiency program to promote all forms of energy end-use efficiency and comprehensive sustainable building design;

(7)  provide for appropriate notice to customers on means to obtain information about energy efficiency programs approved under this section; and

(8)  determine what, if any, regulatory authority over fuel dealers that the board or department of public service, or both, may require in order to implement the expansion of the energy efficiency utility’s responsibilities set forth in this section and section 203a of this title.

(h)  A proposed revised efficiency utility structure shall be developed by the board consistent with the provisions of this section and in collaboration with representatives from heating fuel dealers, electric and gas utilities, the energy efficiency utility, the department of public service, consumer representatives, environmental advocates, entities currently engaged in delivering weatherization services, and other stakeholders identified by the board.  The proposed revised structure shall be presented in a report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the senate committee on finance, and the house committee on ways and means with any proposed legislative changes by December 15, 2007.  The report on the proposed revised structure shall include specific recommendations for ongoing funding of the expanded fossil fuel efficiency responsibilities of the energy efficiency utility.  The recommended funding source or sources shall be adequate to provide a minimum funding level for fossil fuel efficiency of six million dollars each for the years 2009 and 2010.  The recommended funding source or sources shall be capable of providing sustained funding of the fossil fuel efficiency measures.

Sec.3.  [deleted]

* * * Existing Efficiency Utility * * *

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  In place of utility‑specific programs developed pursuant to section 218c of this title, the board may shall, 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 appointing one or more entities appointed by the board for these purposes a qualified entity as an energy efficiency utility.  An appointment of an expanded energy efficiency utility shall be made under this section and section 203a of this title, on a schedule that provides the expanded energy efficiency utility adequate time to prepare for the delivery of relevant services no later than January 1, 2009.  Despite this appointment, however, the board may allow the Burlington Electric Department and the Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. to continue to provide efficiency services within their respective service territories.  The board may include appropriate combined heat and power systems that result in the conservation and efficient use of energy and meet the applicable agency of natural resources’ air quality standards.  The Except with regard to a transmission company, the board may specify that the implementation of these programs and measures appointment of an energy efficiency utility to deliver services within an electric utility’s service territory satisfies a that electric utility’s corresponding obligations, in whole or in part, under section 218c of this title and under any prior orders of the board.

Sec. 5.  30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(5) is added to read:

(5)  Effective January 1, 2009, an energy efficiency utility shall have the same unrestricted term of appointment as is most common for electric and gas utilities in the state.  The board may terminate an energy efficiency utility’s appointment, but only for good cause, such as fraud, material adverse effects upon the general good of the state, or sustained failure to meet the performance targets established in subdivision (e)(2) of this section, and only if so shown after notice and an opportunity for hearing.

Sec. 6.  30 V.S.A. § 209(e) and (f) are amended to read:

(e)  The board shall:

(1)  Ensure that all retail consumers, regardless of retail electricity or, gas, or heating fuel 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, including the use of compensation mechanisms for any energy efficiency utility that are based upon verified savings in energy usage and demand, and other performance targets specified by the board.  The linkage between compensation and verified savings in energy usage and demand (and other performance targets) shall be reviewed and adjusted not less than triennially by the board.

* * *

(7)  Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle and promote program improvement, program stability, enhanced access to capital and personnel, improved integration of program designs with the budgets of regulated companies providing energy services, and maturation of programs and delivery resources.    

* * *

(10)  Provide for the independent evaluation of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section and those delivered under section 203a of this title.

(11)  Require that any entity approved appointed by the board under subsection (d) of this section shall:

(A)  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; and

(B)  independently report and recommend to the board, the legislature, and the public measures and policies intended to achieve the purposes of section 202a of this title, and, more generally, the purposes of this title.

(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 and under section 203a of this title.

* * *

(14)  Consider the impact on retail electric rates of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section and the impact on fuel prices of programs delivered under section 203a of this title.

(15)  Establish a building efficiency program to be run by the efficiency utility, that shall be designed to make continuous progress by promoting all forms of energy end‑use efficiency and comprehensive sustainable building design.  The program may utilize performance‑based compensation.  The program administrator may secure and administer revenue from other sources.

(16)  Require that any entity appointed by the board under section 203a of this title shall:

(A)  deliver board‑approved programs in an effective, efficient, timely, and competent manner and meet standards that are consistent with any relevant board orders in subsequent energy efficiency proceedings;

(B)  annually report to the general assembly on expenditures under the program and on projected budget needs for the upcoming five years.

(f)  Appointment under this section shall not render such an entity subject to the general provisions of chapters 3 and 5 of this title, except to the degree provided for by the board in such an appointment or specific future order.  Appointment of, oversight of, and revenue determinations for such an energy efficiency utility shall fall within the regulatory powers and jurisdiction of the board and, as is the case regarding the regulation of the revenues, terms and conditions of service and compensation of gas and electric utilities shall not be considered a contractual activity of the state.

(g)  The public service board may prescribe, by rule or order, standards for the labeling of electricity delivered or intended for delivery to ultimate consumers as to price, terms, sources and objective environmental impacts, along with such procedures as it deems necessary for verification of information contained in such labels.  The public service board may prescribe, by rule or by order, standards and criteria for the substantiation of such labeling or of any claims regarding the price, terms, sources and environmental impacts of electricity delivered or intended for delivery to ultimate consumers in Vermont, along with enforcement procedures and penalties.  When establishing standards for the labeling of electricity, the board shall weigh the cost, as well as the benefits, of compliance with such standards.  With respect to companies distributing electricity to ultimate consumers, the board may order disclosure and publication, not to occur more than once each year, of any labeling required pursuant to the standards established by this subsection. Standards established under this subsection may include provisions for:

* * * Coordination with Efficiency Utility * * *

Sec. 7.  30 V.S.A. § 218c(b) is amended to read:

(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.  In preparing the efficiency portion of an integrated plan, a regulated company shall consult with any entity appointed by the board to deliver energy efficiency programs under subdivision 209(d)(2) of this title or under section 203a of this title.  Proposed plans shall be submitted to the department of public service and the public service board.  The board, after notice and opportunity for 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.

Sec. 8.  REPORTS ON ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDING INCENTIVES
 AND ON PROGRAM INTEGRATION

The department of public service, in consultation with the efficiency utility, shall work with representatives of the buildings trades, architects, real estate sales professionals, bankers, nonprofit housing providers, and other interested persons to develop recommendations to the general assembly with regard to:

(1)  How best to create incentives to encourage the economic development likely to accompany the voluntary use of residential and commercial building practices and material that are best suited to limit the amount of energy consumed and greenhouse gases generated, without creating hardships among the users of the building.

(2)  How to assure or facilitate the installation of appropriate and substantial weatherization, particularly with regard to multiple dwellings, rental property, and other instances in which the owner may lack incentives to weatherize because energy costs are paid by a tenant; including the advisability of creating weatherization requirements that must be met at the time of sale.

(3)  How to encourage or require better disclosure of building energy efficiency and weatherization leading up to the time of sale of the building.


* * * Low Income Weatherization * * *

Sec. 9.  33 V.S.A. § 2501(d)–(i) are added to read:

(d)  This fund shall be used solely for the purpose of funding weatherization services to low income Vermonters.  Borrowing from the fund to provide cash flow assistance to LIHEAP, or enhancement of the LIHEAP program if unmet need is determined to be critical, may be authorized by the general assembly if it is determined that such borrowing will not affect cash flow to the weatherization contractors.  All funds borrowed must be repaid to the fund by the end of the fiscal year in which they were borrowed.

(e)  A full annual accounting of the revenues and expenditures of the weatherization trust fund will be provided by the agency of administration to the house and senate committees on appropriations and on natural resources and energy.

(f)  The low income weatherization program will be guided by a five‑year plan that is drafted with the specific purpose of improving continuously the comfort, safety, and affordability in low income housing and to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas generation in that housing.  The plan shall describe a five‑year strategy, with a three‑year detailed work plan.  Each year, the strategy and the work plan shall be updated by one year.  The initial plan and subsequent updates will be developed by a weatherization oversight committee, working cooperatively with the office of economic opportunity.  The weatherization oversight committee will be composed of:  three representatives, including two representatives of weatherization contractors and one director of a community action program appointed by the Vermont community action directors association; a representative appointed by the energy efficiency utility provided for in 30 V.S.A. § 209; a low income representative appointed by the Vermont low income advocacy council; a representative appointed by the Vermont housing finance agency; a representative of a local or regional nonprofit land trust that develops affordable housing appointed by the housing and conservation board; a representative from the office of home heating assistance; a member of the Vermont house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house; a member of the senate, appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate; a representative of renewable energy installers, to be appointed by renewable energy Vermont; a representative with expertise in climate change reduction appointed by the joint energy committee; a representative of the workforce development council; and a representative of the office of economic opportunity.  The office of economic opportunity shall provide support and full drafting assistance to the weatherization oversight committee in the production of this plan and required updates.  

(g)  The initial plan shall be completed and provided to the general assembly by December 20, 2007.  The plan shall include the following:

(1)  A five‑year strategy to ensure stable financing and capacity‑building in the regional weatherization programs, including a plan for ramp‑up of services consistent with sound management practices.

(2)  A full examination of the effect of the federal Department of Energy rules guiding the federal portion of weatherization funds that now also guide the use of state funds, and steps that could be taken with the state funds to expand the number of units served, the comprehensiveness of services offered, and the greenhouse gas reduction effect of the program.  This will include, where appropriate, the potential for revisions in eligibility, both statewide and by region.

(3)  A comprehensive strategy to use the expanded weatherization program to reduce the rapidly increasing annual requirements for LIHEAP funds.

(4)  A full discussion of efficiencies and improved services to be gained in continuing coordination with Efficiency Vermont, the Burlington electric department, and Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. energy efficiency programs, and any other partnerships that could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.

(5)  Full consideration of strategies and documentation that may be required to secure any greenhouse gas cap‑and‑trade revenues for furtherance of the program.

(6)  Strategies for appropriate use of renewable energy technologies to secure long‑term affordability for low income households.

(7)  Financing strategies that might leverage other funds to increase efficiency and renewable energy investment in low income housing.

(8)  Estimation of job training requirements to implement the plan, how they may be met, and the role of weatherization programs in providing training for their own programs, and for the expanded efficiency utility program as well.

(9)  A comprehensive plan for evaluation of the program, documentation of savings and other benefits, and regular reporting to the administration and the general assembly.

(h)  The office of economic opportunity may, with the support of the weatherization oversight committee, implement administrative changes to the operation of the low income weatherization program that are within its authority to make, prior to submitting the plan.  All such changes will be described in the plan.

(i)  The weatherization oversight committee will continue in effect after the initial plan is submitted, and shall meet regularly to provide guidance to the office of economic opportunity in implementing the plan and in formulating annual updates of the strategy and work plan.


* * * Energy Planning * * *

Sec. 10.  30 V.S.A. § 202 is amended to read:

§ 202.  ELECTRICAL ENERGY PLANNING

(a)  The department of public service, through the director for regulated utility planning, shall constitute the responsible utility planning agency of the state for the purpose of obtaining for all consumers in the state proper utility service at minimum cost under efficient and economical management consistent with other public policy of the state.  The director shall be responsible for the provision of plans for meeting emerging trends related to electrical energy demand, supply, safety and, conservation, and continuing reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases in the production or use of energy.

(b)  The department, through the director, shall prepare an electrical energy plan for the state.  The plan shall be for a 20‑year period and shall serve as a basis for state electrical energy policy.  The electric energy plan shall be based on the principles of “least cost integrated planning” set out in and developed under section 218c of this title.  The plan shall include at a minimum:

(1)  an overview, looking twenty 20 years ahead, of statewide growth and development as they relate to future requirements for electrical energy, including patterns of urban expansion, statewide and service area economic growth, shifts in transportation modes, modifications in housing types and design, conservation, the increasing global importance of continual reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases, and other trends and factors which, as determined by the director, will significantly affect state electrical energy policy and programs;

(2)  an assessment of all energy resources available to the state for electrical generation or to supply electrical power, including among others, fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro‑electric, biomass, wind, fuel cells, and solar energy and strategies for minimizing the economic and environmental costs of energy supply, including the production of pollutants and greenhouse gases, by means of efficiency and emission improvements, fuel shifting, and other appropriate means;

(3)  estimates of the projected level of electrical energy demand and the projected level of greenhouse gases generated as a byproduct of the generation of electrical energy;

(4)  a detailed exposition, including capital requirements and the estimated cost to consumers, of how such demand shall be met, and how the generation of those greenhouse gases may be continually reduced, based on the assumptions made in subdivision (1) of this subsection and the policies set out in subsection (c) of this section; and

(5)  specific strategies for reducing electric rates and for reducing the generation of greenhouse gases to the greatest extent possible in Vermont over the most immediate five‑year period, for the next succeeding five‑year period, and long‑term sustainable strategies for achieving and maintaining the lowest possible electric rates and generation of greenhouse gases over the full 20‑year planning horizon consistent with the goal of maintaining a financially stable electric utility industry in Vermont.

(c)  In developing the plan, the department shall take into account the protection of public health and safety; preservation of environmental quality; the potential for reduction of rates paid by all retail electricity customers; the potential for reduction of electrical demand through conservation, including alternative utility rate structures; use of load management technologies; efficiency of electrical usage; utilization of waste heat from generation; and utility assistance to consumers in energy conservation.  The department shall place a premium upon continuing reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases.

(d)  In establishing plans, the director shall:

(1)  Consult with:

* * *

(J)  an entity designated to meet the public’s need for energy efficiency services under subdivision 218c(a)(2) of this title or designated under section 203a of this title;


* * *

(2)  To the extent necessary, include in the plan surveys to determine needed and desirable plant improvements and extensions and coordination between utility systems, joint construction of facilities by two or more utilities, methods of operations, and any change that will produce better service or, reduce costs, or reduce the generation of greenhouse gases.  To this end, the director may require the submission of data by each company subject to supervision, of its anticipated electrical demand, including load fluctuation, supplies, costs, the generation of greenhouse gases and its plan to meet that demand, and those greenhouse gas reductions, together with such other information as the director deems desirable.

(3)  Work in conjunction with the energy efficiency entity designated under subsection 209(d) of this title or under section 203a of this title to develop 20‑year projections for efficiency programs administered by that entity, and to incorporate those projections into the state electrical energy plan.

* * *

(f)  After adoption by the department of a final plan, any company seeking board authority to make investments, to finance, to site or construct a generation or transmission facility or to purchase electricity or rights to future electricity, shall notify the department of the proposed action and request a determination by the department whether the proposed action is consistent with the plan.  In its determination whether to permit the proposed action, the board shall consider the department’s determination of its consistency with the plan along with all other factors required by law or relevant to the board’s decision on the proposed action.  If the proposed action is inconsistent with the plan, the board may nevertheless authorize the proposed action if it finds that there is good cause to do so.  To the extent that the inconsistency entails an excessive generation of greenhouse gases, the board may authorize the proposed action only if it finds that there is compelling reason to do so.  The department shall be a party to any proceeding on the proposed action, except that this section shall not be construed to require a hearing if not otherwise required by law.

* * *

Sec. 11.  30 V.S.A. § 202a is amended to read:

§ 202a.  STATE ENERGY POLICY

It is the general policy of the state of Vermont:

(1)  To assure, to the greatest extent practicable, that Vermont can meet its energy service needs in a manner that is adequate, reliable, secure, and sustainable; that assures affordability and encourages the state’s economic vitality, continuing and substantial reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases, the efficient use of energy resources and cost effective cost‑effective demand side management; and that is environmentally sound.

(2)  To identify and evaluate on an ongoing basis, resources that will meet Vermont’s energy service needs in accordance with the principles of least cost integrated planning; including efficiency, conservation and load management alternatives, wise use of renewable resources, continuing and substantial reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases, and environmentally sound energy supply.

Sec. 12.  30 V.S.A. § 202b is amended to read:

§ 202b.  STATE COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN

(a)  The department of public service, in conjunction with other state agencies designated by the governor, and in consultation with the efficiency utility designated under subsection 209(d) or section 203a of this title, shall prepare a comprehensive state energy plan covering at least a 20‑year period.  The plan shall seek to implement the state energy policy set forth in section 202a of this title.  The plan shall include:

(1)  A comprehensive analysis and projections regarding the use, cost, supply, and environmental effects of all forms of energy resources used within Vermont and regarding all greenhouse gases generated within the state, including the state’s progress in meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals established in 10 V.S.A. § 578.

(2)  Recommendations for state implementation actions, regulation, legislation, and other public and private action to carry out the comprehensive energy plan.

* * *

(e)  By no later than January 10, 2008, the department shall complete and deliver to the general assembly a comprehensive energy plan, which, in addition to other requirements, shall include a comprehensive set of policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The plan shall provide specific recommendations for increasing the energy efficiency of Vermont’s built environment, including strategies to increase the efficiency of new residential buildings, the efficiency of existing residential buildings, and the efficiency of new and existing commercial and industrial buildings, including industrial processes.

* * * Energy Efficiency Mortgages * * *

Sec. 13.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY MORTGAGES

On or before January 15, 2008, the Vermont housing finance agency and the Vermont economic development authority, respectively, shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on finance regarding the feasibility of establishing programs to support energy efficiency residential and commercial building mortgages of up to 15 percent of the appraised value of a dwelling or commercial building for energy saving improvements, weatherization, or energy efficiency for which the monthly mortgage or loan payment does not exceed the likely reduction in utility and heating costs for the dwelling or commercial building.

* * * Inclining Residential Rates and Smart Meters * * *

Sec. 14.  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.  The board shall solicit one or more volunteer municipal companies or cooperatives to conduct one or more pilot projects to establish an inclining block structure for residential rate customers and to establish the optimal role for advanced metering systems used in conjunction with time‑of‑day rates. Costs incurred in conducting these pilot programs shall be recoverable by the companies or cooperatives as specified by the board.  The board shall use the pilot projects to investigate:

(1)  the parameters that might be developed for general applicability in the event that inclining block structures for residential rate customers becomes a general requirement throughout the state; and

(2)  how best to deploy advanced metering systems so as to assure in a timely and cost‑effective fashion that customers throughout the state are empowered to use and respond cost‑effectively to price signals made possible through advanced metering systems.

* * * Act 250 * * *

Sec. 15.  10 V.S.A. § 6025(f) is added to read:

(f)  The land use panel, in consultation with the efficiency utility established under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d) or § 203a shall adopt rules that update the requirements of subdivision 6086(a)(9)(F) of this title to respond to the evolution of planning in response to climate change and other factors, the development of new and more efficient designs, and increases in fuel prices that lead to shorter payback periods for efficiency measures, and shall thereby assure the updated identification of the best available technology for efficient use or recovery of energy.  Rules adopted under this subsection shall complement building standards accorded presumptive weight under this chapter and shall address areas not covered by those standards.


* * * Biodiesel * * *

Sec. 16.  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 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.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings, state garages, and the state transportation fleet;

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

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

(4)  Recommendations for increasing biodiesel fuel production, storage facilities, and distribution facilities;

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

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

(7)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state buildings, state garages, and the state transportation fleet; and

(8)  A proposed work plan that would implement the recommendations for increasing the biodiesel use outlined in subdivision (3) of this subsection.

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


* * * Transportation * * *

Sec. 17.  STUDY ON INCENTIVES FOR EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION

(a)  There is established a study committee on incentives for efficient transportation.  The committee shall include a member of the house appointed by the speaker, and a member of the senate appointed by the committee on committees, who jointly shall convene the committee.  In addition, the speaker of the house and the committee on committees shall each appoint a representative of an environmental group.  The governor shall appoint two automobile dealers, one specializing in American‑made automobiles, one specializing in foreign‑made automobiles.  Other members shall include individuals appointed by the governor to represent the tax department, the department of motor vehicles, the tourism industry, a regional transportation organization, a Vermont small business that relies heavily on the use of motor vehicles for its livelihood, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Association, and a Vermont member of the association of automotive engineers.

(b)  By December 15, 2007, the committee shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and on transportation, to the house committee on ways and means, and to the senate committee on finance with:

(1)  Recommendations regarding the use of tax and fee incentives and disincentives among and within vehicle weight classes for consumers to purchase fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

(2)  Recommendations regarding the use of cash subsidies for efficient motor vehicle operation behavior.

(3)  Recommendations regarding state purchase of motor vehicles that favor fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

(4)  Recommendations for public education regarding efficient transportation.

(5)  Other recommendations regarding the efficient use of transportation services. 

(c)  The committee shall be entitled to administrative support from the  agency of transportation.

(d)  Legislative members shall be entitled to compensation as provided in 2 V.S.A. § 406.  The committee may meet up to four times.

Sec. 18.  9 V.S.A. chapter 138 is added to read:

Chapter 138.  Right to CONSERVE ENERGY

§ 4481.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

The general assembly finds that prohibiting or limiting the ability of people voluntarily to conserve energy is contrary to the public interest.  It is the purpose of this chapter to encourage energy conservation by discouraging governmental regulations and practices and private contracts which restrict the use of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy savings devices, or that impede non-motorized transportation on state and town highways.

§ 4482.  TRIENNIAL REPORT ON LIMITATIONS ON RIGHT TO
   CONSERVE ENERGY

By no later than January 1, 2008, and triennially thereafter, the commissioner of housing and community affairs shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy regarding the extent to which private covenants within the state restrict the use of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy saving devices, together with any related recommendations on that issue.

* * * Contract Addendum with Efficiency Utility * * *

Sec. 19.  CONTRACT WITH EFFICIENCY UTILITY

The board shall provide for the availability of expanded services by the efficiency utility under the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 203a no later than January 1, 2008.  For the year 2008, this expansion of scope of the efficiency utility shall be in the form of an addendum to the existing contract between the board and the efficiency utility.  The public service board shall direct the energy efficiency utility to prepare a proposal for meeting the objectives of section 203a.  The board shall institute a collaborative process to review the proposal and develop it more fully.  The board shall allow public comment and input on the proposal, as presented by the efficiency utility, or as revised during any collaborative process, shall hold at least two public hearings on the proposal, and shall either accept or modify it.  Thereafter, the board shall provide for the delivery of expanded efficiency services under the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2), as amended.

Sec. 20.  GREEN BUILDING, EFFICIENCY, AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
   WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Global climate change, which is threatening our environment and perhaps ultimately our existence, has been caused in part by an energy policy that is largely dependent on the burning of fossil fuels.

(2)  In order to slow or stop climate change, it is essential that we reduce or eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels by significantly improving energy efficiency and shifting to nonpolluting benign forms of energy such as wind, sun, and water power.

(3)  In order for Vermont to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals set by the conference of the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers’ climate change action plan, Vermont needs to provide effective weatherization services, energy audits, green building practices, and installation of renewable energy systems.

(4)  The “Vermont energy efficiency potential study for non-regulated fuels” recently completed by the department of public service indicates that Vermont has cost-effective potential energy savings of $486 million over the next ten years with 63 percent of those savings from building shell improvements.  In order to meet these savings goals, a ten-fold expansion of capabilities to deliver services to as many as 10,000 buildings a year is essential to meet these savings goals.

(5)  Workforce development in the field of green building, renewable energy, and energy efficiency an essential component of the battle to combat global climate change, has not kept pace with the growth of this industry.  New business are being created, innovated energy systems are being designed and manufactured, but there are few trained applicants to fill the new well-paying jobs being created in this field.

(6)  Vermont must implement a comprehensive green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy workforce development plan in order to fill the well-paying jobs that will stay in Vermont and are essential to meeting the needs of the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry in order to meet our goals in regard to global climate change. 

(7)  Next generation report stated that Vermont must implement strategies to expand its skilled workforce and approach the future by integrating economic development, workforce development, and education policies.

(8)  The reality of global climate change and the advancements in greenhouse gas reductions strategies present an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurial business creation to fill this.

Sec. 21.  TASK FORCE; CREATION

(a)  There is created a green building and efficiency and renewable energy workforce development task force to be composed of 15 members to include:

(1)  The commissioner of labor, or designee.

(2)  A representative of the apprenticeship program appointed by the commissioner of labor.  

(3)  A representative of the building trades appointed by the Vermont state labor council.  

(4)  A representative from each of the following 12 organizations to be appointed by the organization:

(A)  The Vermont workforce development council.

(B)  The association of weatherization contractors.

(C)  Efficiency Vermont.

(D)  Vermont technical college.   

(E)  Vermont fuel dealers association.

(F)  Coalition for workforce solutions.

(G)  Renewable energy Vermont.

(H)  Vermont small business development centers.

(I)  Association of vocational-technical schools.

(J)  Association of adult service coordinators.

(K)  Builders for social responsibility.    

(L)  Green institute for the advancement of sustainability.   

(b)  The commissioner of labor, or designee, shall be chair of the task force, and the department of labor shall provide administrative support.  The task force may meet as frequently as needed in order to complete the requirements of subsection (c) of this section.

(c)  In consultation with appropriate interested parties, the task force shall develop:

(1)  Comprehensive recommendations for recruiting and training individuals for employment in the green building and renewable energy and energy efficiency fields.  The recommendations shall include goals for secondary and post-secondary schools, other educational institutions, workforce development organizations, and apprenticeship programs.

(2)  Recommendations for expanding certification programs for green builders and designers and installers of energy efficiency and renewable energy devices and systems.

(3)  Recommendations for incorporating energy efficiency and renewable energy training into apprenticeship and other training programs for electricians, plumbers, and other skilled trades.

(4)  Curricula for business development training and technical assistance for businesses that include green builders, energy efficiency designer and developers and manufacturers of renewable energy and energy efficiency products.

(5)  Enhanced training programs for green builders and designers and weatherization professionals, including how to utilize state-of-the-art tools and materials.

(6)  Findings and recommendations required by this subdivision to be included in a written report to the house committees on commerce and on ways and means and the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs, and on finance on or before January 15, 2008.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us