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Journal of the Senate

________________

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

A moment of silence was observed in lieu of devotions.

Message from the House No. 81

     A message was received from the House of Representatives by Ms. Wrask, its Second Assistant Clerk, as follows:

Mr. President:

I am directed to inform the Senate the House has considered the report of the Committee of Conference upon the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on House bill of the following title:

H. 360.  An act relating to employment protection and training period for Vermont National Guard members

And has adopted the same on its part.

The House has adopted joint resolutions of the following titles:

J.R.H. 35.  Joint resolution designating May 8 as Children’s Mental Health Day at the State House.

J.R.H. 36.  Joint resolution recognizing that all Vermont firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel provide a professional level of service to their communities.

In the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

The Governor has informed the House of Representatives that on the fourth day of May, 2007, he approved and signed a bill originating in the House of the following title:

H. 547.  An act relating to fiscal year 2007 supplemental appropriations.

The Governor has informed the House of Representatives that on the seventh day of May, 2007, he approved and signed a bill originating in the House of the following title:

H. 529.  An act relating to establishing the town line between Burke and Kirby.

The Governor has informed the House of Representatives that on the eighth day of May, 2007, he approved and signed bills originating in the House of the following titles:

H. 48.  An act relating to approval of amendment to the charter of the City of South Burlington authorizing the imposition of a sales, rooms, meals, and alcoholic beverage tax.

H. 88.  An act relating to education property tax rate adjustments.

Joint Resolution Placed on Calendar

J.R.S. 37.

Joint Senate resolution of the following title was offered, read the first time and is as follows:

     By Senators Campbell and Bartlett,

     J.R.S. 37.  Joint resolution recognizing Charles Edward Taylor's significant contributions to the advancement of aviation mechanics and designating May 24 as Aviation Maintenance Technician Day.

Whereas, Charles Taylor was born on May 24, 1869, in the state of Illinois, and

Whereas, in 1902, he began working as a machinist for Orville and Wilbur Wright at the Wright Cycle Company in Dayton, Ohio, and

Whereas, within six weeks, Charles Taylor, using only a lathe and drill press, built the first engine used to power the Wright Flyer, and

Whereas, his ingenuity earned him a place in aviation history when the Wright Brothers flew their airplane successfully on December 17, 1903, and

Whereas, he designed engines for the Wright Brothers and later taught them how to build aircraft engines, and

Whereas, in 1908, Charles Taylor accompanied Orville Wright to Fort Meyer, Virginia, for United States government airplane test flights, and, in 1909, he accompanied Wilbur Wright to New York for the Hudson–Fulton flights, and

Whereas, Charles Taylor served as lead mechanic for Calbraith Rodgers who made his first transcontinental flight in 1911, and

Whereas, he had a successful career in aviation maintenance for more than 60 years until his death in 1956, and

Whereas, the Federal Aviation Administration honored him with the establishment of the Charles Edward Taylor Master Mechanic Award, which recognizes persons with 50 years or more of aviation maintenance experience, and

Whereas, a national effort is underway to designate May 24 each year, in as many states as possible, as Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, in honor of Charles Edward Taylor, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly recognizes Charles Taylor’s significant contributions to the advancement of aviation mechanics, and be it further

Resolved:  That the General Assembly urges Vermonters to participate in commemorative activities marking the 103rd anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first airplane flight, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send two copies of this resolution to the Aviation Maintenance Technicians Association in Chula Vista, California.

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was placed on the Calendar for action tomorrow.

Joint Resolutions Placed on Calendar

J.R.H. 35.

Joint resolution originating in the House of the following title was read the first time and is as follows:

Joint resolution designating May 8 as Children’s Mental Health Day at the State House.

Whereas, according to estimates from the U.S. Surgeon General, up to 20 percent of children in this country will be diagnosed with a mental health or addictive‑related disorder, and

Whereas, in Vermont that figure means over 28,000 young persons in Vermont will be diagnosed with a disorder that will affect their daily lives, and

Whereas, the same data indicate that 11 percent of children experience a dysfunctional impairment due to their disorder, and five percent of all children have an extreme functional impairment that is disorder related, and

Whereas, these numbers represent thousands of youth, and in fiscal year 2006, Vermont’s public mental health system served nearly 10,000 youth, a doubling of the number in 13 years, and

Whereas, included among the types of mental health‑related illnesses that young Vermonters suffer are schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, major depression, grief reaction, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder syndrome, and panic attacks, and

Whereas, on occasion, these youngsters also have developmental disabilities, such as autism and co-occurring substance abuse disorders, and

Whereas, the department of health’s mental health division provides important services for these youth and their families, including: case management; community supports in individual or group settings; employment services; respite services; clinical interventions, including assessment services and beds; crisis support; and foster homes, and

Whereas, each day these children and their families face many challenges that most Vermonters could never imagine, related to support services, home stability, and stigma, and

Whereas, these children and their families merit special recognition for their bravery under difficult circumstances, and organizations concerned about their well‑being will be gathering at the State House on May 8, 2007, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly designates May 8, 2007 as Children’s Mental Health Day, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health,

VPIC, Children’s Mental Health Directors, Retreat Healthcare, VAMH, the division of mental health, and the Statewide Children’s Standing Committee.

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was placed on the Calendar for action tomorrow.

J.R.H. 36.

Joint resolution originating in the House of the following title was read the first time and is as follows:

Joint resolution recognizing that all Vermont firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel provide a professional level of service to their communities.

Whereas, all volunteer firefighters, “paid–on call” fire fighters, full-time firefighters, and EMS personnel perform their duties professionally, and

Whereas, firefighters and EMS personnel are outstanding public servants who are committed to protecting life, property, and the environment in their communities throughout the state of Vermont, and

Whereas, recruiting, retaining, and protecting all firefighters and EMS personnel are essential to the long-term well-being of the communities they serve, and

Whereas, Vermonters respect and deeply appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of firefighters, EMS personnel, and their families, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly recognizes the outstanding work of firefighters and EMS personnel who work to protect life, property, and the environment throughout the state of Vermont, and be it further

Resolved:  That the General Assembly looks forward to the presentation of the findings of the department of public safety’s study on issues pertaining to recruiting and retaining firefighters and EMS personnel, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Vermont State Firefighters Association, to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and to the Professional Firefighters of Vermont.

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was placed on the Calendar for action tomorrow.

Recess

On motion of Senator Shumlin the Senate recessed until 4:00 P.M.

Called to Order

At 4:00 P.M. the Senate was called to order by the President.

Message from the House No. 82

     A message was received from the House of Representatives by Ms. Wrask, its Second Assistant Clerk, as follows:

Mr. President:

I am directed to inform the Senate the House has considered Senate bill of the following title:

S. 27.  An act relating to increasing the minimum tip wage.

And has passed the same in concurrence.

The House has considered Senate bills of the following titles:

S. 148.  An act relating to the requirements for an application to be a designated new town center.

S. 177.  An act relating to child poverty in Vermont.

S. 190.  An act relating to establishing a brownfields advisory committee.

S. 192.  An act relating to HIV name-based reporting.

And has passed the same in concurrence with proposals of amendment in the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

The House has adopted joint resolutions of the following titles:

J.R.H. 27.  Joint resolution requesting Congress to maximize to the greatest extent possible the federal funding for state transportation construction projects and grant the states the maximum degree of flexibility in prioritization of projects to be financed.

J.R.H. 37.  Joint resolution authorizing the commissioner of forests, parks, and recreation to enter into land exchanges and for the commissioner of fish and wildlife to accept a Labrador retriever for law enforcement purposes.

In the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

Recess

On motion of Senator Mazza the Senate recessed until 4:30 P.M.

Called to Order

At 4:45 P.M. the Senate was called to order by the President.

Message from the House No. 83

     A message was received from the House of Representatives by Ms. Wrask, its Second Assistant Clerk, as follows:

Mr. President:

I am directed to inform the Senate the House has considered bills originating in the Senate of the following titles:

S. 67.  An act relating to closure of the Bennington state office building.

S. 143.  An act relating to authorizing the use of racing fuel containing the additive MTBE or other gasoline ethers.

S. 196.  An act relating to failure to insure for workers’ compensation coverage by employers and contractors.

And has passed the same in concurrence with proposals of amendment in the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

The House has considered the report of the Committee of Conference upon the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on Senate bill of the following title:

S. 39.  An act relating to health insurance plan reimbursement for covered services provided by naturopathic physicians.

And has adopted the same on its part.

The House has adopted joint resolutions of the following titles:

J.R.H.  30.  Joint resolution encouraging the inclusion of international education programs in the curriculum and extracurricular activities of Vermont’s colleges and universities in order to meet the challenges of a global society.

J.R.H. 34.  Joint resolution designating the month of June as Vermont Birding Month.

In the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

Message from the House No. 84

     A message was received from the House of Representatives by Ms. Wrask, its Second Assistant Clerk, as follows:

Mr. President:

I am directed to inform the Senate the House has considered Senate proposal of amendment to House bill of the following title:

H. 522.  An act relating to the viability of Vermont agriculture.

And has concurred therein.

The House has considered a bill originating in the Senate of the following title:

S. 167.  An act relating to voter registration.

And has passed the same in concurrence with proposals of amendment in the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

The House has considered Senate proposal of amendment to House proposal of amendment to Senate bill of the following title:

S. 116.  An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments.

And has concurred therein.

The House has considered the report of the Committee of Conference upon the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on House bill of the following title:

H. 274.  An act relating to adult foster care

And has adopted the same on its part.

Rules Suspended; Report of Committee of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

S. 39.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to health insurance plan reimbursement for covered services provided by naturopathic physicians.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Mullin, for the Committee of Conference, submitted the following report:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Committee of Conference to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon Senate bill entitled:

S. 39.  An act relating to health insurance plan reimbursement for covered services provided by naturopathic physicians.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposal of amendment in its concurrence and that the bill be further amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  8 V.S.A. § 4088d is added to read:

§ 4088d.  COVERAGE FOR COVERED SERVICES PROVIDED BY NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS

(a)  A health insurance plan shall provide coverage for medically necessary health care services covered by the plan when provided by a naturopathic physician licensed in this state for treatment within the scope of practice described in chapter 81 of Title 26.  Health care services provided by naturopathic physicians may be subject to reasonable deductibles, co‑payment and co‑insurance amounts, fee or benefit limits, practice parameters, cost‑effectiveness and clinical efficacy standards, and utilization review consistent with any applicable regulations published by the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration.  Any amounts, limits, standards, and review shall not function to direct treatment in a manner unfairly discriminative against naturopathic care, and collectively shall be no more restrictive than those applicable under the same policy to care or services provided by other primary care physicians, but may allow for the management of the benefit consistent with variations in practice patterns and treatment modalities among different types of health care providers.  A health insurance plan may require that the naturopathic physician’s services be provided by a licensed naturopathic physician under contract with the insurer or shall be covered in a manner consistent with out‑of‑network provider reimbursement practices for primary care physicians; however, this shall not relieve a health insurance plan from compliance with applicable BISHCA Rule 10 network adequacy requirements.  Nothing contained herein shall be construed as impeding or preventing either the provision or the coverage of health care services by licensed naturopathic physicians, within the lawful scope of naturopathic practice, in hospital facilities on a staff or employee basis.

(b)  As used in this section, “health insurance plan” means any individual or group health insurance policy, any hospital or medical service corporation or health maintenance organization subscriber contract, or any other health benefit plan offered, issued, or renewed for any person in this state by a health insurer, as defined by 18 V.S.A. § 9402.  The term shall not include benefit plans providing coverage for specific disease or other limited benefit coverage.

Sec. 2.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS REGARDING PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING

     The general assembly finds:

(1)  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening for prostate cancer using prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing for digital rectal examination (DRE).

(2)  While medical organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Physicians–American Society of Internal Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the American Urologic Association do not recommend universal or routine prostate cancer screening, those  organizations do, however, generally agree that men over age 50 and those with increased risk for prostate cancer are appropriate candidates for screening.

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. chapter 107, subchapter 10 is added to read:

Subchapter 10.  Prostate Screenings

§ 4100f.  PROSTATE SCREENINGS; COVERAGE REQUIRED

(a)  Health insurers shall provide coverage for prostate cancer screenings consistent with the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or upon recommendation of a health care provider.  Benefits provided shall be at least as favorable as coverage for other cancer screening procedures and subject to the same dollar limits, deductibles, and coinsurance factors within the provisions of the policy.

(b)  For purposes of this section, “health insurer” is defined by subdivision 9402(9) of Title 18.  The term does not apply to coverage for specified disease or other limited benefit coverage.

Sec. 4.  APPLICABILITY AND EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on October 1, 2007 and shall apply to all health benefit plans on and after October 1, 2007 on such date as a health insurer offers, issues, or renews the health benefit plan, but in no event later than October 1, 2008.

The Committee further recommends that after passage of the bill the title be amended to read as follows:

     AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN REIMBURSEMENT FOR COVERED SERVICES PROVIDED BY NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS AND FOR RECOMMENDED PROSTATE CANCER SCREENINGS.

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                        JEANETTE K. WHITE

                                                                        EDWARD S. FLANAGAN

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        VIRGINIA MILKEY

                                                                        PATRICIA A. O’DONNELL

                                                                        HILDEGARD Z. OJIBWAY

                                                                 Committee on the part of the House

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate accept and adopt the report of the Committee of Conference?, was decided in the affirmative.

Rules Suspended; Reports of Committees of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 154.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on House bill entitled:

An act relating to stormwater management.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Lyons, for the Committee of Conference, submitted the following report:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Committee of Conference to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon House bill entitled:

H. 154.  An act relating to stormwater management.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its further proposal amendment in its concurrence and that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, 10 V.S.A. § 1264(f)(3), by striking out the following: “January 15, 2009” where it appears in the first sentence and inserting in lieu thereof the following: January 15, 2010

Second:  By striking out Sec. 3 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 3 to read as follows: 

Sec. 3.  EXTENSION OF SUNSET OF INTERIM STORMWATER PERMITTING PROGRAM AND CONVEYANCE OF REAL ESTATE WITH STORMWATER PERMITS

Sec. 10 of No. 140 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), as amended by Sec. 8 of No. 154 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006), is further amended to read:

Sec. 10.  SUNSET

(a)  Sec. 2 of this act (interim permitting authority for regulated stormwater runoff), except for subsection 1264a(e) of Title 10, shall be repealed on September 30, 2007 January 15, 2010.

(b)  Sec. 4 of this act (local communities implementation fund) shall be repealed on September 30, 2012.

(c)  Sec. 6 of this act (stormwater discharge permits during transition period) shall be repealed on September 30, 2007 January 15, 2010.

Third:  In Sec. 4, by striking out the first sentence of subsection (a) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Beginning January 15, 2008, and every two years thereafter, the agency of natural resources shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources, the senate committee on natural resources and energy, and the house and senate committees on agriculture regarding agency progress in establishing and implementing the total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan for Lake Champlain.

Fourth:  By adding three new sections to be numbered Secs. 6a, 6b, and 6c to read as follows:

Sec. 6a.  10 V.S.A. § 1251a(c) is added to read:

(c)  On or before January 15, 2008, the secretary of natural resources shall propose draft rules for an implementation process for the antidegradation policy in the water quality standards of the state.  The implementation process for the antidegradation policy shall be consistent with the state water quality policy established in section 1250 of this title, the Vermont water quality standards, and any applicable requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.  On or before July 1, 2008, a final proposal of the rules for an implementation process for the antidegradation policy shall be filed with the secretary of state under 1 V.S.A. § 841.

Sec. 6b.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES REPORT ON BASIN PLANNING

On or before January 15, 2008, the agency of natural resources shall report to the senate committee on natural resources and energy and the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources with a written proposal for utilizing the implementation process for the antidegradation policy required under 10 V.S.A. § 1251a to update the 17 basin plans of the state.  The report shall include:

(1)  A proposed, written procedure for utilizing the antidegradation implementation process to conduct basin planning;

(2)  A summary of the benefits and disadvantages of utilizing the antidegradation process to conduct basin planning;

(3)  An estimate of the cost to the agency of natural resources to conduct basin planning through utilization of the antidegradation process; and

(4)  Any proposed amendments to the Vermont water quality standards that may be necessary to conduct basin planning using the antidegradation implementation process.

Sec. 6c.  ADOPTION OF BASIN PLANS WITHOUT WATER MANAGEMENT TYPES

Notwithstanding the requirements of 10 V.S.A. § 1253(d) and subsection 1-02(D)(5) of the Vermont water quality standards, the secretary of natural resources, prior to July 1, 2008, may adopt revised basin plans for the basin of the West, Williams, and Saxton rivers and the basin of the Stevens, Wells, Waits, and Ompompanoosuc rivers without including proposals for water management types in Class B waters, provided that the plans adopted under this section shall be revised within two years of adoption and, upon revision, shall propose water management types or an alternative method of protecting water quality.

Fifth:  In Sec. 7, by striking out the following: “and 6 (clean and clear action plan audit) of this act shall take effect upon passage” where it appears and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 6 (clean and clear action plan audit), 6a (antidegradation implementation procedure), 6b (agency of natural resources report on basin planning), 6c (adoption of basin plans without water management types) of this act shall take effect upon passage

                                                                        VIRGINIA V. LYONS

                                                                        ROBERT M. HARTWELL

                                                                        DIANE B. SNELLING

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        LOREN T. SHAW

                                                                        DAVID L. DEEN

                                                                        CYNTHIA MARTIN

                                                                 Committee on the part of the House

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate accept and adopt the report of the Committee of Conference?, was decided in the affirmative.

H. 229.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on House bill entitled:

An act relating to corrections and clarifications to the health care affordability act of 2006 and related legislation.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Racine, for the Committee of Conference, submitted the following report:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Committee of Conference to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon House bill entitled:

H. 229.  An act relating to corrections and clarifications to the health care affordability act of 2006 and related legislation..

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House accede to the Senate proposals of amendment, with the following additional amendments:

First:  By striking out Sec. 11 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 11 to read as follows:

Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 1974(b) and (c) are amended to read:

(b)  VHAP‑eligible premium assistance.

* * *

(3)  The agency shall determine whether it is cost‑effective to the state to enroll an individual in an approved employer‑sponsored insurance plan with the premium assistance under this subsection as compared to enrolling the individual in the Vermont health access plan. If the agency determines that it is cost‑effective, the individual shall be required to enroll in the approved employer‑sponsored plan as a condition of continued assistance under this section or coverage under the Vermont health access plan, except that dependents who are children of eligible individuals shall not be required to enroll in the premium assistance program.  Notwithstanding this requirement, an individual shall be provided benefits under the Vermont health access plan until the next open enrollment period offered by the employer or insurer.  The agency shall not consider the medical history, medical conditions, or claims history of any individual for whom cost‑effectiveness is being evaluated.

(c)  Uninsured individuals; premium assistance.

(1)  For the purposes of this subsection:

* * *

(B)  “Uninsured” means an individual who does not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, or Dr. Dynasaur and had no private insurance or employer‑sponsored coverage that includes both hospital and physician services within 12 months prior to the month of application, or lost private insurance or employer‑sponsored coverage during the prior 12 months for the following reasons:

(i)  the individual’s coverage ended because of:

(I)  loss of employment, unless the employer has terminated its employees for the primary purpose of discontinuing employer‑sponsored coverage and establishing their eligibility for Catamount Health;

(II)  death of the principal insurance policyholder;

(III)  divorce or dissolution of a civil union;

(IV)  no longer qualifying as a dependent under the plan of a parent or caretaker relative; or

(V)  no longer qualifying for receiving COBRA, VIPER, or other state continuation coverage; or

(ii)  college‑ or university‑sponsored health insurance became unavailable to the individual because the individual graduated, took a leave of absence, or otherwise terminated studies.

* * *

(5)  The agency shall determine whether it is cost‑effective to the state to require the individual to purchase the approved employer‑sponsored insurance plan with premium assistance under this subsection instead of Catamount Health established in section 4080f of Title 8 with assistance under subchapter 3a of chapter 19 of this title.  If providing the individual with assistance to purchase Catamount Health is more cost‑effective to the state than providing the individual with premium assistance to purchase the individual’s approved employer‑sponsored plan, the state shall provide the individual the option of purchasing Catamount Health with assistance for that product.  An individual may purchase Catamount Health and receive Catamount Health assistance until the approved employer‑sponsored plan has an open enrollment period, but the individual shall be required to enroll in the approved employer‑sponsored plan in order to continue to receive any assistance.  The agency shall not consider the medical history, medical conditions, or claims history of any individual for whom cost‑effectiveness is being evaluated.

Second:  In Sec. 27, 21 V.S.A. § 2002 (definitions), at the end of subdivision (3), by striking out the following: “that is not supported by state funding” and inserting in lieu thereof the following: except VHAP or Medicaid

Third:  In Sec. 27, 21 V.S.A. § 2002 (definitions), in subdivision (4)(A), by striking out the following: “fewer than 20 weeks” and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 20 weeks or fewer

Fourth:  In Sec. 27, 21 V.S.A. § 2003 (health care fund contribution assessment), in subsection (c), after the fourth sentence, by adding the following: “The department shall develop a form that inquires of the health coverage status of an employee in a manner that, to the greatest extent possible, preserves the confidentiality of the type of coverage possessed by the employee.  For the purpose of the employer assessment, employers shall only use this form to determine the health coverage status of an employee.

Fifth:  In Sec. 28, 21 V.S.A. § 561 (health coverage status discrimination prohibited), in subdivision (b)(1), after the words “among applicants” by adding the words or employees and in subdivision (b)(2)(B), before the period, by adding the following: , provided that the inquiry conforms to the employer obligations in chapter 25 of this title

                                                                        DOUGLAS A. RACINE

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                        VIRGINIA V. LYONS

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        LUCY LERICHE

                                                                        STEVEN B. MAIER

                                                                        FRANCIS M. MCFAUN

                                                                 Committee on the part of the House

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate accept and adopt the report of the Committee of Conference?, was decided in the affirmative.

H. 449.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on House bill entitled:

An act relating to foster care services and supports.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Racine, for the Committee of Conference, submitted the following report:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Committee of Conference to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon House bill entitled:

H. 449.  An act relating to foster care services and supports.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment with further amendment by striking out the existing Sec. 3 and inserting in lieu thereof three new sections to be numbered Secs. 3, 4, and 5 to read as follows:

Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. § 1901(f) is added to read:

(f)  The secretary shall not impose a prescription co-payment for individuals under age 21 enrolled in Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur.

Sec. 4.  STUDY ON TRANSITIONAL SERVICES FOR YOUTHS

The secretary of administration, in consultation with the secretary of human services, the commissioner of labor, the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living, the commissioner of corrections, the commissioner for children and families, and the commissioner of education, shall study the costs and benefits of providing necessary transitional services up to age 22 for a youth who has a functional developmental disability and has been receiving state-funded services or services under an individualized education program (IEP) on or before the youth’s 18th birthday; or has been receiving state-funded services for severe emotional disturbance on or before his or her 18th birthday; in order to assist the youth in becoming a self-sufficient adult.  The secretary of administration shall solicit and summarize in his or her final report input from consumers, providers, and representatives of disability organizations, including the Vermont federation of families for mental health, the Vermont coalition of disability rights, the Vermont council of developmental and mental health services, and the Vermont developmental disabilities council.  The secretary of administration shall report the results of this study to the house committee on human services and the senate committee on health and welfare not later than November 30, 2007.

Sec. 5.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall become effective upon passage.

                                                                 DOUGLAS A. RACINE

                                                                 EDWARD S. FLANAGAN

                                                                 KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                            Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                 ANN D. PUGH

                                                                 PATSY FRENCH

                                                                 NORMAN H. MCALLISTER, SR.

                                                            Committee on the part of the House

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate accept and adopt the report of the Committee of Conference?, was decided in the affirmative.

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Concurred In

S. 67.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to closure of the Bennington state office building.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  The state of Vermont has owned and operated the Bennington state office building (BSOB) located at 200 Veteran’s Memorial Drive since 1977.

(2)  In 1990, the state of Vermont completed a significant addition to the BSOB increasing the total square footage to 63,500 square feet.  At the end of 2006, approximately 135 people were employed at the BSOB.

(3)  Results of a health survey conducted by the Vermont department of health in 2006 found that the occupants of the BSOB reported higher than expected rates of sarcoidosis.

(4)  Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown causes characterized by inflammation in one or more organs and may cause slight‑to‑major pain and disability.

(5)  To date, six current or former state employees who worked in the BSOB report that they have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis.  According to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, nationally, sarcoidosis occurs at a rate of one in 10,000 people. 

(b)  Although the cause of sarcoidosis is not yet known and the relationship of sarcoidosis to the environment of the Bennington state office building cannot be determined, the general assembly is concerned about the welfare of any current and former state employees and intends to ensure that eligible affected state employees receive reasonable compensation for their suffering.  

Sec. 2.  SARCOIDOSIS BENEFIT TRUST FUND; CREATION; PURPOSE

(a)  The sarcoidosis benefit trust fund is hereby created to be managed in accordance with subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32 and administered by the department of buildings and general services.  The fund shall be composed of donations, contributions, or appropriations made to the fund.

(b)  The fund shall be used to provide compensation to any eligible current or former state employee who has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis after working in the Bennington state office building.  To be eligible for benefits under this section, a state employee shall meet both of the following conditions:

(1)  The diagnosis of sarcoidosis occurred after at least five months of continuous employment in the Bennington state office building located at 200 Veterans Memorial Drive.

(2)  The state employee has waived the right to any civil action against the state for damages relating to sarcoidosis and to workers’ compensation benefits relating to sarcoidosis pursuant to chapter 9 of Title 21.  The waiver shall be on a form approved by the commissioner of labor.

(c)  Unless the state has provided conclusive evidence that the sarcoidosis was caused by circumstances unrelated to the state employee’s exposure in the Bennington state office building, a state employee who meets the conditions set forth in subsection (b) of this section is entitled to all of the following benefits:

(1)  Reimbursement for medical expenses incurred for treatment of sarcoidosis prior to the effective date of this act not covered by other medical insurance.  Treatment of sarcoidosis after the effective date of this act shall be paid by the fund in accordance with the fee schedule established by the department of labor.

(2)  Reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses related to treatment of the sarcoidosis pursuant to rules adopted by the department of labor.

(3)  Temporary disability payments for wages lost from the time the eligible employee was unable to work as the result of sarcoidosis until the employee reaches a medical end result or returns to full‑time employment.  Payment under this subdivision shall be limited to the difference between any federal or state provided disability benefits received by the eligible state employee or to which the eligible state employee is entitled and two‑thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage computed for the 12 weeks prior to becoming disabled from work due to sarcoidosis.  The average weekly wage shall be computed in accordance with rules adopted by the department of labor and chapter 9 of Title 21.

(4)  Wage replacement benefits when an eligible state employee returns to work less than full time.  Payment under this subdivision shall be the difference between the gross wages earned and the employee’s average weekly wage computed pursuant to subdivision (3) of this section less any federal‑ or state‑provided disabilities benefits paid. 

(5)  Permanent disability payments for any permanent impairment of function resulting from sarcoidosis.  Impairment shall be evaluated in accordance with the most recent edition of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. 

(6)  Where appropriate, an eligible state employee shall be referred to the vocational rehabilitation division of the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living for evaluation of eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits under existing programs.

(d)  Eligible state employees shall provide documentation for reimbursement for out‑of‑pocket medical treatment and lost wages incurred prior to the effective date of this act no later than one year after the effective date of the act or within two years after the claim is reasonably discoverable and apparent.

(e)  Claims for compensation under the provisions of this section shall not be assignable and shall be exempt from all claims of creditors or third party payers.

(f)  The department of labor shall:

(1)  Adopt rules regarding determination of claims, dispute resolution procedures, and any other issue relating to effecting the purpose of the fund.

(2)  Create standard forms to assure efficient administration of the fund.

(3)   Resolve any disputes that arise between a state employee and the fund including eligibility for payment from the fund, causation, or the type or amount of benefit owed.

(g)  The department of buildings and general services shall continue to pay voluntary payments at least for out‑of‑pocket medical expenses for treatment of the sarcoidosis until rules have been adopted by the department of labor, and shall be credited for all voluntary payments made.

Sec. 3.  BENNINGTON STATE OFFICE BUILDING; CLOSURE

No state employee shall be permitted to work in the Bennington state office building located at 200 Veterans Memorial Drive until the department of health has determined that the air quality and health conditions of the building are safe and free from levels of airborne pathogens, particulates, mold, and other environmental contaminants that are likely to cause injury or disease to humans.  This prohibition shall not apply to employees who are properly equipped to work in the building to perform rehabilitation and reconstruction work necessary to make the building habitable as an office. 

Sec. 4.  BENNINGTON STATE OFFICE LOCATION TASK FORCE

(a)  The Bennington state office location task force is created to act as the representative of the “legislative body of the municipality” as that term is used in 24 V.S.A. § 2794(a)(13).  The task force is created specifically to evaluate the best alternatives for permanent relocation of the state employees in the event that the department of health determines that the Bennington state office building cannot be reoccupied and used as an office building.  If relocation is necessary, the task force shall consider multiple locations within the downtown area that are within easy walking distance of each other in the designated downtown district of Bennington.  The task force shall carry out the purposes of this section consistent with chapter 76a of Title 24.  

(b)  The task force shall be composed of nine members to include the following:

(1)  The chair of the Bennington selectboard, who shall be chair of the task force.

(2)  The Bennington town manager, or designee.

(3)  The director of planning and development for Bennington, or designee.

(4)  A member of the Bennington planning commission.

(5)  The executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, or designee.

(6)  The executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, or designee.

(7)  The director of the Vermont state employees’ association, or designee.

(8)  A member of the house of representatives representing Bennington appointed by the speaker of the house.

(9)  A member of the senate from Bennington district appointed by the committee on committees.

(c)  The task force shall consult with the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs prior to developing findings and recommendations.

(d)  The task force shall hold its first meeting within 30 days after the diagnostic report on the building is issued, and shall meet as needed thereafter.  No later than January 15, 2008, the task force shall issue a written report of its findings and recommendations for office space for state employees in the designated downtown of Bennington to the Bennington selectboard, the commissioner of buildings and general services, the senate committee on institutions and appropriations and the house committees on institutions and appropriations. 

Sec. 5.  APPROPRIATION; TRANSFER AUTHORITY

(a)  There is appropriated from the state insurance reserve fund to the sarcoidosis benefit trust fund in fiscal year 2008 the amount of $150,000.00.

(b)  Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 135, the secretary of administration is authorized to transfer moneys from the state insurance reserve fund to the sarcoidosis benefit trust fund as needed to pay projected claims determined to be eligible pursuant to Sec. 2 of this act.

Sec. 6.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2007, except that the department of labor shall begin the rule‑making process upon passage of this act.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred In; Committee of Conference Requested; Committee of Conference Appointed

S. 143.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to authorizing the use of racing fuel containing the additive MTBE or other gasoline ethers.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, 10 V.S.A. § 577(b)(4), by inserting the word motorcycles, before the following: “all-terrain vehicles” and after “snowmobiles,

Second:  In Sec. 1, 10 V.S.A. § 577(b)(5), by inserting the following: on an oval track before the following: “permitted under section 4802” and after “a race or contest

Third:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 2 to read as follows:

* * * Emissions Labeling for New Vehicles * * *

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 579 is added to read:

§ 579.  VEHICLE EMISSIONS LABELING PROGRAM FOR NEW MOTOR VEHICLES

(a)  Not later than September 1, 2009, the commissioner of environmental conservation, in consultation with the commissioner of motor vehicles, shall establish a vehicle emissions labeling program for new motor vehicles sold or leased in the state with a model year of 2010 or later.

(b)  Vehicle emissions labels under this program shall include the vehicle’s emissions score, comparing the vehicle’s emissions with the emissions from all vehicle models of the same model year for which a label is required, presented in both a continuous bar format and a single qualitative score or in an alternative graphical representation that the commissioner of environmental conservation determines will more effectively convey the information to consumers.  The label shall also include the average vehicle emissions score for vehicles within the same vehicle class as the vehicle to which the label is affixed and any other relevant information, as determined by the commissioner of environmental conservation.  The commissioner of environmental conservation is encouraged to consult with counterparts in California and Connecticut who have advanced a comparable program in those states, and is additionally encouraged to develop a model whereby the automobile manufacturers install the labels.

(c)  The vehicle emissions label shall be affixed to the vehicle in a clearly visible location, as determined by the commissioner of environmental conservation and the commissioner of motor vehicles.

(d)  No new motor vehicle with a model year of 2010 or later shall be sold or leased in the state without a vehicle emissions label that meets the requirements of this section affixed to it.

Fourth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 3 to read as follows:

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, on motion of Senator Mazza, the Senate refused to concur in the House proposal of amendment and requested a Committee of Conference.

Thereupon, pursuant to the request of the Senate, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Kitchel

                                         Senator Collins

                                         Senator Mazza

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.


Rules Suspended; House Proposals of Amendment Concurred In

S. 177.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to child poverty in Vermont.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, by striking out subdivision (b)(1) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(b)(1)  The council shall consist of the following members or their designees:

(A) the president pro tempore of the senate;

(B)  the speaker of the house of representatives;

(C)  the chair of the senate committee on health and welfare;

(D)  the chair of the house committee on human services;

(E)  the chair of the senate committee on education;

(F)  the chair of the house committee on education;

(G)  the commissioners for children and families; health; education; and labor; and

(H)  one representative each from Voices for Vermont’s Children, the Vermont low income advocacy council, Vermont Legal Aid, and the Vermont superintendents’ association. 

Second:  In Sec. 1, by striking out subdivision (b)(3) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(3)  The council shall meet up to six times while the general assembly is not in session to perform its functions under this section.  In addition, during the 2007 legislative interim, the council shall hold 14 public hearings as required under subsection (d) of this section.

Third:  In Sec. 1, by striking out subsection (d) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(d)  In developing the working plan, the council shall first consult with experts, with parents of children living in poverty, and with providers of services to children and families living in poverty.  The council shall hold one public hearing in each of the 14 counties.

Fourth:  In Sec. 1, by striking out  subsection (f) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(f)  Not later than January 1, 2008, the council shall submit the working plan to the house committees on appropriations and human services and the senate committees on appropriations and health and welfare.  On January 1, 2009, and annually thereafter, until January 1, 2018, the council shall report to these committees on yearly progress toward benchmarks, updates to the plan, and recommendations for budgetary and policy changes in order to accomplish the goals of this act.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

S. 190.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to establishing a brownfield advisory committee.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, subdivision (a)(1), after the word “designee” by adding the following: , who shall convene the committee

Second:  In Sec. 1, subdivision (a)(8), before the word “who” by inserting the following:  preferably

Third:  In Sec. 1, subdivision (a)(9), before the word “who” by inserting the following:  preferably

Fourth:  In Sec. 1, subdivision (a)(12), by striking out the word “and

Fifth:  In Sec. 1, subdivision (a)(13), before the period, by adding the following:  ;

(14)  a representative of the banking industry; and

(15)  a representative of the motor fuels industry, as recommended by the Vermont petroleum association

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

S. 192.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to HIV name-based reporting.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 1 to read as follows:

The sole purpose of this act is to enable Vermont to continue to be eligible for federal funding which has been made contingent upon name-based HIV case reporting.

     and by renumbering the remaining sections to be numerically correct

     Second:  In the newly numbered Sec. 2, 18 V.S.A. § 1001(a), by striking out the last sentence, which begins with “The health department shall . . .”, and inserting in lieu thereof the following: The health department shall, by rule, require that any person required to report under this section has in place a procedure that ensures confidentiality.  In addition, in relation to the reporting of HIV and AIDS, the health department shall, by rule:

(1)  develop procedures, in collaboration with individuals living with HIV or AIDS and with representatives of the Vermont AIDS service organizations, to ensure confidentiality of all information collected pursuant to this section; and

(2) develop procedures for backing up encrypted, individually identifying information, including procedures for storage, location, and transfer of data.

     ThirdIn the newly numbered Sec. 2, 18 V.S.A. § 1001(d)(3), before the period, by adding the following: , and epidemiological follow-up

     Fourth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 4.  NOTIFICATION TO INDIVIDUALS FOR CASES PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

The department shall collaborate with individuals living with HIV or AIDS, representatives of the Vermont AIDS service organizations, and health care providers, to notify individuals for whom HIV-positive test results were
reported by unique identifier that a new report will be made to the health department using the individual’s name.

     Fifth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 5 to read as follows:

Sec. 5.  CONTINGENT REPEAL

     This act shall be effective only so long as state receipt of federal funds is contingent upon names-based HIV case reporting, and shall expire upon the elimination of the federal requirement for names-based HIV case reporting, such as that contained in 42 U.S.C. § 300ff-28.  Upon such an occurrence, reporting of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases pursuant to 18 V.S.A. § 1001 shall be by a unique identifier only. 

     Sixth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 6 to read as follows:

Sec.6. EFFECTIVE DATE

Sections 4 and 5 shall be effective immediately.  All other sections shall be effective on April 1, 2008, except that the department may immediately begin rulemaking pursuant to 18 V.S.A. § 1001.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

S. 196.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to failure to insure for workers’ compensation coverage by employers and contractors.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, 21 V.S.A. § 690, by striking out the introductory paragraph of subdivision (b)(1) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(b)(1)  In addition to any other authority provided to the commissioner pursuant to this chapter, the commissioner may issue a written request to a contractor engaged in the business of nonresidential building or construction to provide a workers’ compensation compliance statement on a form provided by the commissioner.  For the purposes of this subsection, a contractor includes subcontractors and independent contractors.  The form shall require all the following information:

Second:  In Sec. 1, 21 V.S.A. § 690, in subdivision (b)(3), by striking out the final sentence and inserting in lieu thereof the following: No contractor shall be required to provide more than one workers’ compensation compliance statement per year, unless the commissioner explains the need for each additional statement.

Third:  By striking out Sec. 6 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 6 to read as follows:

Sec. 6.  PROOF OF INSURANCE; MISCLASSIFICATION OF COVERED EMPLOYEES; STUDY; COMMISSIONER OF LABOR

(a)  The commissioner of labor in consultation with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities and health care administration shall study the following:

(1)  The feasibility and cost associated with making the National Council on Compensation Insurance proof of coverage services available to the public as workers’ compensation coverage verification through the department of labor’s website.

(2)   The extent and nature of misclassifying workers in Vermont for the purpose of lowering or avoiding workers’ compensation premium costs, including classifying as independent contractors workers who otherwise meet the criteria as covered employees under Vermont workers’ compensation  laws.

(3)  The effectiveness of Vermont’s current laws, programs, and policies to counter such misclassification.

(b)  The commissioner shall present findings and recommendations regarding the issues studied in subsection (a) of this section to the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs and to the house committees on commerce and on general, housing and military affairs on or before December 15, 2007.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

Joint Resolution Referred

J.R.H. 37.

Joint resolution originating in the House of the following title was read the first time and is as follows:

Joint resolution authorizing the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation to enter into land exchanges and for the commissioner of fish and wildlife to accept a Labrador retriever for law enforcement purposes.

Whereas, subsection 2606(b) of Title 10 authorizes the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation to exchange or lease certain lands, with the approval of the general assembly, and

Whereas, the general assembly considers the following actions to be in the best interest of the state, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation is authorized to:

(1)  Convey the eight‑acre so‑called “Fiddler’s Elbow” parcel located in the town of Lowell to Dale Percy in exchange for a right‑of‑way and associated acreage of up to 15 acres located immediately adjacent to the Moss Glen Falls portion of C.C. Putnam State Forest in the town of Stowe, provided that the agency of transportation transfers the Fiddler’s Elbow parcel to the department of forests, parks and recreation as “surplus” property at no cost, and provided that the appraised value of the land and right‑of‑way at Moss Glen Falls is equal to or greater than the appraised value of the Fiddler’s Elbow parcel.

(2)  Notwithstanding 29 V.S.A. § 166, sell a portion of Willoughby state forest containing the so‑called Cheney House located near the south end of Lake Willoughby in the town of Westmore.  The sale shall include up to five acres of land necessary to encompass the Cheney House, associated wastewater treatment facilities, and associated outbuildings, structures, facilities, and access drives.  It shall not include any frontage on Lake Willoughby.  The commissioner shall follow the 29 V.S.A. § 166 process for sale of state lands.  However, proceeds from this sale shall be deposited in the department of forests, parks and recreation parks special fund for the following uses in the following order of priority:  implementation of a plan to develop Sentinel Rock State Park in Westmore; improvement of facilities in Willoughby state forest at the south end of Lake Willoughby; and construction of cabins at state parks.

(3)  Enter into a lease for a term of up to 50 years with Thom and Hallie McEvoy for the rehabilitation, care, and stewardship of the Preston‑Lefreniere homestead property in Camel’s Hump State Park in the town of Bolton.  The leasehold shall comprise up to 460 acres of the parcel, including the historic house, barns, and associated agricultural and forest lands.  The lease shall provide for the rehabilitation and residential use of the homestead, stabilization and renovation of the barns, and agricultural, forestry, and related educational, conservation, and recreational uses of the property consistent with department management goals, historic integrity of the structures and land, and legal restrictions associated with the parcel.  In lieu of a lease rental payment, lessees shall commit to an approved plan for renovating, improving, using, and maintaining the property and its associated structures.

(4)  Relinquish by quitclaim deed the state’s reversionary interest in a 0.17‑acre portion of the former Rutland Railroad property now owned by the town of South Hero so that the town may exchange the land for a 4.7‑acre parcel of an adjacent landowner.  The newly acquired parcel would be open and available for public recreational access and use. 

(5)  Amend the ski area lease with Burke 2000 LLC on Burke Mountain at Darling State Park to provide for three additional ten‑year extension periods and to make two additional technical amendments to the lease as follows:  title to all buildings, lifts, and other associated structures within the leasehold shall revert to the lessee, and the lessee shall have the right to assign or pledge the lease as collateral security for any mortgages or liens on its property.  Authorization to amend the lease is contingent on the completion of an economic study of the existing ski lease which demonstrates that the state of Vermont’s lease fee formula is in the best interest of the state and compares favorably to other publicly administered ski leases in peer jurisdictions, and be it further

Resolved: That the commissioner of fish and wildlife is authorized to accept, on the department’s behalf, a gift from Michael Cameron of Grand Isle of one Labrador retriever puppy for the department’s fish and game wardens’ use in law enforcement activities, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation and to the commissioner of fish and wildlife.

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was treated as a bill and referred to the Committee on Institutions.

Rules Suspended; Bills Messaged

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the following bills were ordered messaged to the House forthwith:

S. 143; H. 154; H. 229; H. 449.

Rules Suspended; Bills Delivered

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the following bills were ordered delivered to the Governor forthwith:

S. 39; S. 67; S. 177; S. 190; S. 192; S. 196.

Appointment Confirmed

The following Gubernatorial appointment was confirmed separately by the Senate, upon full report given by the Committee to which it was referred:

     Jeffrey N. Wennberg of Rutland - Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation – March 1, 2007, to February 28, 2009.

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Concurred In; Action Messaged

S. 148.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to the requirements for an application to be a designated new town center.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill by striking out Sec. 2 in its entirety.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the action on the bill was ordered messaged to the House forthwith:

Rules Suspended; Report of Committee of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate; Rules Suspended; Bill Messaged to House

H. 520.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on House bill entitled:

An act relating to the conservation of energy and increasing the generation of electricity within the state by use of renewable resources.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Cummings, for the Committee of Conference, submitted the following report:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Committee of Conference to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon House bill entitled:

H. 520.  An act relating to the conservation of energy and increasing the generation of electricity within the state by use of renewable resources.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  DESIGNATION OF ACT

This act shall be referred to as “ the Vermont energy efficiency and affordability act.”

Sec. 2.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

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, new funding strategies, 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. 

(5)  Although workforce development in the field of green building, renewable energy, and energy efficiency is an essential component of the battle to combat global climate change, there are few trained applicants to fill the new well-paying jobs being created in this field.

(6)  The “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.


* * * Renewable Energy Goal * * *

Sec. 3.  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 commissioner of public service, in consultation with 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 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)  By no later than January 15, 2008, the department of public service shall present to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy an updated comprehensive energy plan which shall give due consideration to the public engagement process required under 30 V.S.A. § 254 and under Sec. 2 of No. 208 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006).  By that time, 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. 4.  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 storage, preparation, production, and sale of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes principally produced on the farm; 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. 5.  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 Cost‑effective 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 enable installation and usage of wind, solar, or other technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or below its natural regeneration rate pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 8002(2); and

* * *

* * * Commercial Building Energy Standards * * *

Sec. 6.  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 of public service is authorized to adopt rules interpreting and implementing the CBES.

(5)  The commissioner of public service 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 sectionA If applicable law requires that the primary designer be a licensed professional engineer, licensed architect, or other licensed professional, a member of a pertinent licensed profession shall issue this certification. If one or more licensed professional engineers or licensed architects is involved in the design of the project, then one of these licensees shall issue this certificate. certification may be issued by a builder, a licensed professional engineer, or a licensed architect.  If certification is not issued by a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect is not involved in designing the project, it certification shall be issued by the builder.  Any certification shall be accompanied by an affidavit and 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, sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision and requires disclosure of persons relied upon by the primary designer who have contracted to indemnify the primary designer for damages arising out of that reliance.  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.  This indemnification shall not limit any rights of action of an aggrieved party.

(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 be accompanied by an affidavit and 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, and that requires disclosure of persons who have been relied upon by the person with primary responsibility for coordinating the construction of the building and who have contracted to indemnify that person for damages arising out of that reliance.  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. This indemnification shall not limit any rights of action of an aggrieved party.

(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.

(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 Private right of 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 in superior court 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 State or local enforcements.  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 continuesEach 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, 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.

* * * Smart Metering * * *

Sec. 7.  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 rates in the short and long term 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 to the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy with regard to interim progress in its investigation and measures already implemented under this section.

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

* * * Conservation Rates * * *

Sec. 8.  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. 9.  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 15 150 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, safety, and reliability requirements, 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 15 150 kilowatts (AC) capacity, the board may allow net metering for up to ten systems per year for customers that produce more than 15 150 kilowatts (AC) capacity, but do not produce more than 150 250 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.

Sec. 10.  32 V.S.A. § 3845 is amended to read:

(b) For the purposes of this section alternate energy sources includes any plant, structure or facility used for the generation of electricity or production of energy used on the premises for private, domestic or agricultural purposes, no part of which may be for sale or exchange to the public. The term shall include, but not be limited to grist mills, windmills, facilities for the collection of solar energy or the conversion of organic matter to methane, net metering systems regulated by the public service board under 30 V.S.A. § 219a, and all component parts thereof including land upon which the facility is located, not to exceed one-half acre.

* * * Temporary Meteorological Stations * * *

Sec. 11.  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.  The board shall not waive review regarding whether construction will have an undue adverse effect on esthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, and the public health and safety.

(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. 12.  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. 13.  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. 14.  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. 15.  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 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. 16.  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.  The department shall consult with the agency of natural resources with respect to how to assist individuals seeking a certificate of public good for a small hydroelectric facility, a small wind project, or a small solar project, as well as those seeking water quality certification associated with a small hydroelectric facility.  The department of public service shall consider how best to coordinate services between its ombudsman and the ombudsman for renewable energy at the agency of agriculture, food and markets.

(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.

Sec. 17.  32 V.S.A. §8661 is amended to read:

§8661.  TAX LEVY KILOWATT HOUR TAX

(a)  There is hereby assessed each year upon electric generating plants constructed in the state subsequent to July 1, 1965, and having a name plate generating capacity of 200,000 kilowatts, or more, a state tax in accordance with the following table:

If megawatt hour production is:                  tax is:

Less than 2,300,000 megawatt hours         $2.0 million

2,300,000 to 3,800,000 megawatt hours   $2.0 million plus $0.40 per megawatt hour over 2,300,000

3,800,001 to 4,200,000 megawatt hours   $2.6 million

Over 4,200,000 megawatt hours               $2.6 million plus $0.40 per

                                                                 megawatt hour over 4,200,000

For purposes of this section, “megawatt hour production” means the average of net production for sale in the three most recent preceding calendar years.  The tax imposed by this section shall be paid to the commissioner in equal quarterly installments on or before the 25th day of March, June, September, and December by the person or corporation then owning or operating such electric generating plant. imposed at a rate per kWh of electrical energy produced by the facility as determined by the public service department for the average of the past three calendar years.  The rate of the tax shall be:

(1) $0.00225 per kWh in fiscal year 2009;

(2) $0.0025 in fiscal year 2010; and

(3) $0.003 per kWh in fiscal year 2011 and thereafter.

(b)  If an entity subject to this tax generates no electricity during the tax year due to termination or expiration of a necessary license, or due to permanent cessation of operations, no tax shall be due for that year.

(c)  A person or corporation 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, 3203, 5868, and 5873 of this title.

(d) The tax imposed by this section shall be collected quarterly and shall be due on the last day of the month following the end of the quarter.  It shall be paid to the commissioner of taxes by the person or corporation then owning or operating such electric generating plant.

(e) Annually, of the revenues received:

     (1) forty-two per cent shall be deposited in the education fund of the state established in section 4025 of title 16 to be expended for the purposes of that fund.

     (2) fifty-eight percent shall be deposited in the general fund of the state.

Sec. 17a.  REPEAL

32 V.S.A. § 5402a [ELECTRIC GENERATING PLANT EDUCATION PROPERTY TAX] is repealed.

Sec. 17b.  EFFECTIVE DATE

     Sections 17 and 17a of this act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

Sec.17c. REPORT

By January 15, 2008, the commissioner of taxes shall present recommendations to senate committee on finance and the house committee on ways and means with regard to transitioning from the existing tax established in 32  V.S.A. § 8661 to the tax as established under this act.

* * * Wind‑Powered Electric Generating Facilities * * *

Sec. 18.  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.

(b) The tax shall be imposed at a rate 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. The rate of the tax shall be:

     (1) $0.00225 in fiscal year 2009;

(2) $0.0025 in fiscal year 2010;

(3) $0.003 in fiscal year 2011 and thereafter.

(c) In no case shall the tax imposed for any six month period be less than an amount equal to the rate per kWh imposed by this subsection multiplied by the number of kWh that would be generated if the facility operated at a 15% capacity factor.

(d)  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.

(e) Until a facility is certified under this subsection, it shall remain subject to taxation under section 5402 of this title.  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. 19.  STUDY OF TAX ON ELECTRIC GENERATING PROPERTY    

The commissioner of the department of public service, the commissioner of taxes, and a representative of the joint fiscal office shall study the proper valuation of electric generating facilities and whether there are factors that might necessitate different treatment for different types of electric generating facilities.  Based on this study, they shall determine options for raising  tax revenues from electric generating facilities, including the current education property tax, and the advantages and disadvantages of the various options with regard to stability of the revenue source, ability to build inflation into the tax mechanism, how well the tax mechanism will reflect cost of power sold and fluctuations in power production, whether property valuation creates difficulties for application of a property tax, how the tax mechanism will produce revenue during any start-up or construction period, and any other issues which they may find pertinent to the inquiry; and based upon their findings, shall recommend one or more education tax options for this property.  The study group shall report their findings and recommendations, including proposed legislative amendments, to the house committee on ways and means and senate committee on finance by December 1, 2007.

* * * Business Energy Credit * * *

Sec. 20.  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 solar energy investment tax 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 solar energy investment tax 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. 21.  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 100% of the Vermont‑property portion of the business solar energy investment tax 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 solar energy investment tax credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year.

Sec. 22.  EFFECTIVE DATE OF BUSINESS ENERGY TAX CREDITS

(a) Secs. 20 and 21 of this act (business energy tax credits) shall apply to taxable years 2008 and after.

(b) By January 15, 2008, the Department of Taxes and the Joint Fiscal Office shall report to the General Assembly regarding recommendations on any changes to the business solar tax credit, including options for replacing the pass-through of the federal credit to promote solar investment, whether it should be restructured to be a state tax credit rather than a pass-through of the federal investment tax credit, and whether other investment tax credits should be adopted to promote energy efficiency in the state.

* * * Small Hydro Reports * * *

Sec. 23.  PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD REPORT ON PERMITTING SMALL 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 small hydroelectric projects that are not eligible for a net metering permit under public service board rule 5.100.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend criteria for determining what constitutes a small 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, interconnection, and structural safety of the small hydroelectric project.

(3)  Address additional uses of the small 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.

Sec. 24.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES REPORT ON WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR SMALL 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, as required by Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, of small hydroelectric projects that are not subject to net metering.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend, after consultation with the public service board, criteria for determining what constitutes a small 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 small hydroelectric projects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(9)  Include an analysis of the existing permitting process for small hydro projects.

Sec. 25.  PILOT PROJECTS FOR SMALL HYDROELECTRIC GENERATORS

In order to promote the timely development of environmentally sound small community hydro projects, and to help inform efforts to develop new permitting processes, the public service department and the agency of natural resources shall work with communities that are seeking to develop small hydro projects, to facilitate those projects through the existing permit processes.  These projects shall not have more than 2 MW of name-plate capacity, shall have the support and involvement of the communities in which they are located, and shall not include the construction of a new dam.

Sec. 26.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; EXISTING OUTDOOR WOOD BOILERS GRANDFATHERED; IMPROPER USE; NEW RULE 05-P41 EFFECTIVE MARCH 31, 2008

The general assembly finds:

(1)  confusion and misinformation has caused some current owners of outdoor wood boilers to incorrectly conclude that they may be unable to use their units when Rule 05-P41 goes into effect;

(2)  Rule 05-P41, recently adopted by the agency of natural resources, raises emission standard requirements for new outdoor wood boilers purchased after March 31, 2008, and does not in any way affect Vermonters who currently own outdoor wood boilers, the proper use of which will be grandfathered unless a nuisance is created;

(3)  Rule 05-P41 for new outdoor wood boilers does not take effect until March 31, 2008, thereby giving fair warning to dealers and manufacturers;

(4)  Rule 05-P41 and 10 V.S.A. § 561 (variances) authorizes the secretary of natural resources, on application from an affected party, to extend the implementation date of the rule if the available technology cannot satisfy the air quality standards in the rule; and

(5)  it is unlawful for a person to use an outdoor wood boiler, as it is for other wood-burning equipment, to burn rubber, tires, plastics, common household waste, or hazardous waste of any kind, which when combusted often cause high levels of toxins to be emitted into our communities, in turn resulting in dirty and toxic air with complaints to municipal and state governments, and demands for stricter air quality rules.  See 24 V.S.A. § 2201 (relating to enforcement of solid waste law violations and municipal enforcement) and 10 V.S.A. Chapters 23 and 159 and the rules adopted thereunder (relating to the definitions of solid waste).

Sec. 27.  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.

* * * Plumbing * * *

Sec. 28.  26 V.S.A. § 2192a(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Specialty fields include the following:

* * *

(4)  Solar System Specialist:  Installation, replacement and repair of residential, industrial or commercial domestic solar heating systems for use as a supplemental or pre-heat source.  Systems shall include; passive or active design, collectors, storage tanks, heat exchangers, piping, safety devices and related materials.  The Solar System Specialist shall only connect to new or existing domestic hot water supply tanks, including instantaneous heaters, as well as tanks or heat exchangers supplementing hydronic space heating systems.  At no time shall a Solar System Specialist install, replace and repair any other part of a domestic hot water supply or hydronic space heating system.

* * * Affordability * * *

Sec. 29.  30 V.S.A. § 218(e) is added to read:

(e)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the board, on its own motion or upon petition of any person, may issue an order approving a rate schedule, tariff, agreement, contract, or settlement that provides reduced rates for low income electric utility consumers to better assure affordability.  For the purposes of this subsection, “low income electric utility consumer” means a customer who has a household income at or below 150 percent of the current federal poverty level.  When considering whether to approve a rate schedule, tariff, agreement, contract, or settlement for low income electric utility consumers, the board shall take into account the potential impact on, and cost-shifting to, other utility customers.

* * * Energy Efficiency Services Fund * * *

Sec. 30.  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 are currently assessed only on electricity and natural gas providers regulated by the board;

(5)  with the scientific consensus 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)  Non-electric energy efficiency fund.  The public service board shall establish a non-electric energy efficiency fund to be managed by a fund administrator appointed by the board under this section and subdivision 209(d)(3) of this title.  The 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.  The non-electric 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 209(d) of this title and operating in accordance with section 209  of this title.

(d)  Review of adequacy of the fund.

(1) On or before January 15, 2011, the public service board shall report to the legislature on the expenditure of funds from the non-electric energy efficiency services fund to meet the public’s needs for energy efficiency services.

(2)  The report shall include a funding adequacy evaluation and funding recommendations which 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, the building industry, entities currently engaged in delivering weatherization services, and other stakeholders identified by the board. 

(3)  The funding adequacy evaluation shall address:  the need for and availability of alternative revenue sources that may be dedicated to the non‑electric 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.

(4)  The funding recommendations shall be developed in a manner that accords 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. 31.  REPORT ON REVISED STRUCTURE FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY UTILITY

Public service board report. By no later than December 15, 2007, the public service board shall present 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 that contains a proposed revised energy efficiency utility structure, together with any proposed legislative changes that in its judgment will assist in the effective implementation of the revised efficiency utility.  The  board shall develop the proposal in a manner consistent with the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 209 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, the building industry, entities currently engaged in delivering weatherization services, and other stakeholders identified by the board.  The report shall include options for ongoing funding of the expanded fossil fuel efficiency responsibilities of the energy efficiency utility.

Sec. 31a.  OVERSIGHT OF EFFICIENCY UTILITY

(a)  Legislative oversight.  Final responsibility for establishing the proposed efficiency utility rests with the general assembly.  The general assembly shall promptly review, give deliberate consideration to the proposal submitted by the board under Sec. 31 of this act, and take appropriate action.  Unless the general assembly enacts legislation to the contrary by March 31, 2008, the efficiency utility shall become effective as provided by this act.

(b)  Representation of ratepayers.  The department of public service shall represent the interests of ratepayers in proceedings before the public service board involving the efficiency utility in a manner consistent with the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(c)  Accountability.  The public service board shall provide ongoing oversight in order to assure continued accountability of the efficiency utility, as required under 30 V.S.A. §§ 209 and 203a..

* * * Existing Efficiency Utility * * *

Sec. 32.  30 V.S.A. § 209 is amended to read:

§ 209.  JURISDICTION; GENERAL SCOPE

* * *

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

(2)  In place of utility‑specific programs developed pursuant to section 218c of this title, the board may 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 energy efficiency utility shall be made under this section and section 203a of this title, on a schedule that provides the 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., and any successors in interest, to continue to provide efficiency services within their respective service territoriesThe As part of this appointment, the board may shall include as eligible measures 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.

(3)  In addition to its existing authority, the board may establish by order or rule a volumetric charge to customers for the support of energy efficiency programs that meet the requirements of section 218c of this title.  The charge shall be known as the energy efficiency charge, shall be shown separately on each customer's bill, and shall be paid to a fund administrator appointed by the board and deposited into an electric efficiency fund.  When such a charge is shown, notice as to how to obtain information about energy efficiency programs approved under this section shall be provided in a manner directed by the board.  This notice shall include, at a minimum, a toll free telephone number, and to the extent feasible shall be on the customer's bill and near the energy efficiency charge.  Balances in the electric efficiency fund shall be ratepayer funds, shall be used to support the activities authorized in this subdivision, and shall be carried forward and remain in the fund at the end of each fiscal year.  These monies shall not be available to meet the general obligations of the state.  Interest earned shall remain in the fund.  The board will annually provide the legislature with a report detailing the revenues collected and the expenditures made for energy efficiency programs under this section.

(4)  The charge established by the board pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be in an amount determined by the board by rule or order that is consistent with the principles of least cost integrated planning as defined in section 218c of this title. As circumstances and programs evolve, the amount of the charge shall be reviewed for unrealized energy efficiency potential and shall be adjusted as necessary in order to realize all reasonably available, cost-effective energy efficiency savings. In setting the amount of the charge and its allocation, the board shall determine an appropriate balance among the following objectives; provided, however, that particular emphasis shall be accorded to the first four of these objectives: reducing the size of future power purchases; reducing the generation of greenhouse gases; limiting the need to upgrade the state's transmission and distribution infrastructure; minimizing the costs of electricity; 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; and the value of targeting efficiency and conservation efforts to locations, markets or customers where they may provide the greatest value.  The board, by rule or order, shall establish a process by which a customer may apply to the board for an exemption from some or all of the charges assessed under this subdivision. The board shall establish criteria by which these applications shall be measured. Any such exemption shall extend for a period of time not to exceed one year. In addition, the board may authorize exemptions only if, at a minimum, a customer demonstrates that, during the preceding year, it implemented an extraordinary amount of cost-effective energy efficiency at the customer's own expense or incurred extraordinary costs on those measures and the customer did not and will not receive reimbursement for those measures from the entity designated by the board under this section who pays an average annual energy efficiency charge of at least $5,000 may apply to the board to self-administer energy efficiency through the use of an energy savings account which shall contain a percentage of the customer’s energy efficiency charge payments as determined by the board.  The remaining portion of the charge shall be used for system-wide energy benefits.  The board shall establish criteria for approval of these applications.

(5)  Effective January 1, 2009, an energy efficiency utility shall have the same unrestricted term of appointment and process for termination of appointment as is most common for electric and gas utilities in the state.

(e)  The board shall:

(1)  Ensure that all retail consumers, regardless of retail electricity or, gas, or heating or process 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.

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

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

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

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

(7)  Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle and in order to 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.    

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

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

(10)  Provide for the independent evaluation of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section 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 deliver board‑approved programs in an effective, efficient, timely, and competent manner and meet standards that are consistent with those in section 218c of this title, the board’s orders in public service board docket 5270, and any relevant board orders in subsequent energy efficiency proceedings.

(12)  Require verification, on or before January 1, 2003, and every three years thereafter, by an independent auditor of the reported energy and capacity savings and cost-effectiveness of programs delivered by any entity appointed by the board to deliver energy efficiency programs under subdivision (d)(2) of this section and under section 203a of this title.

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

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

(15)  Ensure that the energy efficiency utility promotes strategies 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.

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

(1)  establish processes 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 of the expanded energy efficiency utility’s compensation on verified savings in energy usage and demand and on 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., or any successors in interest, under which the city and the Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., or any successors in interest, 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 comprehensive building efficiency strategies 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;

(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; and

(9)  permit the energy efficiency utility independently to report and recommend to the board, the general assembly, 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.

(h)  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. 33.  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 services 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. 34.  FORWARD CAPACITY MARKET REVENUES; ENERGY EFFICIENCY UTILITY

Net revenues above costs associated with payments from the New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE) for capacity savings resulting from the activities of the energy efficiency utility designated under 30 V.S.A.§ 209(d)(3) shall be used to further the ability to undertake cost effective energy efficiency activities that will reduce Vermont energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.  The priority for use of these funds shall be to develop, support, and implement mechanisms designed to provide positive cash flow financing for energy efficiency investments. These investments shall be supervised by the public service board.  Beginning January 1, 2009, these funds shall be deposited into the non-electric energy efficiency fund established under 30 V.S.A. § 203a(b).

  * * * Low Income Weatherization * * *

Sec. 35.  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.  Provisions for repayment of borrowed funds must be made 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 the department of public service; 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 committee on committees 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 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, with energy efficiency programs of the Burlington electric department and Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., and any successors in interest, and with 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 general assembly.

(h)  On or before January 30 of each year, the office of economic opportunity shall make a report to the house and senate committees on appropriations and on natural resources and energy utilizing existing resources within state government available in the office of economic opportunity’s weatherization data management system that compiles performance data available on households weatherized in the past year to include: 

(1)  number of households weatherized;

(2)  average program expenditure per household for energy efficiency;

(3)  average percent energy savings;

(4)  energy and nonenergy benefits combined;

(5)  benefits saved for every dollar spent;

(6)  average savings per unit for heating fuels;

(7)  gallons of oil saved related to equivalent number of homes heated;

(8)  projected number of households to be weatherized in the current program year; and

(9)  projected program expenditures for the current program year ending March 31.

(i)  The office of economic opportunity may 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.

* * * Energy Planning * * *

Sec. 36.  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, environmental impacts, 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, environmental impacts, 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, the projected level of pollution, 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 pollutants, including 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 pollution including 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 pollution including 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 an emphasis upon continuing reductions in the generation of pollution, including 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 pollution, including 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 pollution including greenhouse gases, and its plan to meet that demand and reduce that pollution including greenhouse gas emissions, together with such other information as the director deems desirable.

(3)  Work in conjunction with the energy efficiency utility 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 utility 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. 37.  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 pollution including 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 pollution including greenhouse gases, and environmentally sound energy supply.

Sec. 38.  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, 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 pollution including 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.

* * *


* * * Biodiesel * * *

Sec. 39.  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 institutions, 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.

* * * Energy Efficiency Mortgages * * *

Sec. 40.  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.


Sec. 41. 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 to assure that the requirements of subdivision 6086(a)(9)(F) of this title are in concert with the evolution of land use design and planning concepts that occurs in response to global climate change.  Other factors to be considered by the land use panel shall include the potential for solar orientation of buildings and increases in fuel prices that shorten lifecycle payback periods for energy efficiency measures  These rules shall thereby assure the identification and implementation of the best available technology for the efficient use or recovery of energy.  Rules adopted under this subsection shall complement residential and commercial building energy standards accorded presumptive weight under this chapter and shall specifically address areas not covered by those standards.

* * Transportation * * *

Sec. 42  STUDY ON INCENTIVES FOR EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION

(a)  There is established a study committee on incentives for efficient transportation.  The committee shall include two members of the house appointed by the speaker, one each from the committees on transportation and on natural resources and energy, and two members of the senate appointed by the committee on committees, one each from the committees on transportation and on natural resources and energy.  The first member appointed from the Senate and the first member appointed from the House jointly shall convene the committee.  In addition, the governor, in consultation with the particular interest group in question, shall appoint one representative each from the following: the automobile dealers association; the truck and bus association; the Vermont association of planning and development agencies; the business community; the environmental community; the commission on climate change; and the public transit association. Other members shall include the secretary of transportation, or a designee; the commissioner of environmental conservation, or a designee; and the commissioner of motor vehicles, or a designee.

(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 financial incentives and disincentives that would encourage consumers to purchase vehicles that result in lesser amounts of emissions that contribute to climate change.

(2) An analysis of the role of motor vehicles in creating and contributing to air contaminants in Vermont, and a determination of what portion of overall statewide energy consumption is due to the use of motor vehicles.

(3)  Recommendations regarding policy options that would encourage and reward efficient transportation, including supporting alternative modes of transportation.

(4)  Recommendations regarding state purchase of motor vehicles and fuels that favor fuel efficiency and improve air quality.

(5)  Recommendations for public education regarding clean and efficient transportation.

(6)  An analysis of air quality within the state with regard to compliance with national ambient air quality standards, and the prospects of air quality within the state not remaining in attainment of these standards. This analysis should include the impact of non-attainment with the Clean Air Act standards on the health of Vermonters, transportation investment and operations, and business development.

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

(c)  The committee shall be entitled to administrative support from the joint fiscal office and the legislative council.

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

* * * Right to Conserve Energy * * *

Sec. 43.  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 saving 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, in general, restrict the use of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy saving devices, together with any related recommendations on that issue.

* * * Green Building, Efficiency, and

Renewable Energy Workforce Development * * *

Sec. 44.  GREEN BUILDING, EFFICIENCY, AND RENEWABLE ENERGY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PLAN

(a)  Legislative Findings.  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. 

(b)  Workforce development plan.  The commissioner of labor shall develop a green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy workforce development plan, in consultation with representatives to include the following:  the apprenticeship program; the building trades; the Vermont workforce development council; the association of weatherization contractors; Efficiency Vermont; Vermont Technical College; the association of general contractors; associated industries of Vermont; Vermont businesses for social responsibility; Vermont fuel dealers association; the coalition for workforce solutions; Renewable Energy Vermont; Vermont small business development centers; the  association of vocational-technical schools; the association of adult service coordinators; Vermont green building network; and the green institute for the advancement of sustainability.   

(c)  Contents of plan.  The plan developed under this section shall be included in a written report that shall be presented on or before March 1, 2008 to the house committees on commerce and on ways and means and to the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs and on finance.  The plan shall include:

(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 persons.

(4)  Curricula for business development training and technical assistance for businesses that include green builders, energy efficiency designers 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.

Sec. 45.  REPORT ON ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDING INCENTIVES; COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN UPDATE

(a)  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.

(b)  As part of the next update to the state comprehensive energy plan required by 30 V.S.A. § 202b, the department of public service shall evaluate and make specific recommendations on:

(1)  How to increase the energy efficiency of Vermont’s built environment, including strategies to increase the efficiency of new and existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, including industrial processes.

(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.

Sec. 46.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage, except that Sec. 30, adding 30 V.S.A. § 203a, shall take effect upon March, 31, 2008.

And upon passage, the title of the bill shall be revised to read:

AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND AFFORDABILITY ACT

                                                                        ANN E. CUMMINGS

                                                                        VIRGINIA V. LYONS

                                                                        RICHARD J. MCCORMACK

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        ROBERT DOSTIS

                                                                        TONY KLEIN

                                                                        SHAP SMITH

                                                                 Committee on the part of the House

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate accept and adopt the report of the Committee of Conference?, was decided in the affirmative.

Thereupon, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the bill was ordered messaged to the House forthwith.

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Concurred in With an Amendment; Rules Suspended; Bill Messaged

S. 167.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to voter registration.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:


Sec. 1.  17 V.S.A. § 2144 is amended to read:

§ 2144.  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

(a)   The town clerk shall not accept applications for persons’ names to be placed on the checklist after 12:00 noon 5:00 p.m. on the second Monday Wednesday preceding the day of the election.  The town clerk’s office shall be kept open on the second Monday Wednesday preceding the day of the election from no later than 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., for the purpose of receiving applications for addition to the checklist.  For purposes of this subsection, a mail application or an application submitted to the department of motor vehicles in connection with a motor vehicle driver’s license or an application accepted by a voter registration agency shall be considered to have met the filing deadline established by this subsection if the application is postmarked, submitted or accepted by 12:00 noon 5:00 p.m. of the second Monday Wednesday preceding the day of the election.

(b)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of election voter registration deadline, but expects to be eligible on or before election day, he or she may file with the town clerk a written notice of intention to apply for addition of his or her name to the checklist.  The notice shall be filed prior to noon of the second Monday preceding the day of election the voter registration deadline, and the town clerk shall then accept the person's application at any time before the close of the polls on election day, and act upon the application forthwith.

(c)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of the election voter registration deadline, and has submitted a written notice of intent to apply in accord with subsection (b) of this section, the clerk shall, upon application, allow the applicant to vote absentee. If the application is approved and the name added to the checklist prior to the close of the polls on election day, the early or absentee ballots cast by that voter shall be treated as other valid early or absentee ballots.

* * *

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. § 2351 is amended to read:

§ 2351.  PRIMARY ELECTION

A primary election shall be held on the second third Tuesday of September August in each even numbered even-numbered year for the nomination of candidates of major political parties for all offices to be voted for at the succeeding general election, except candidates for president and vice-president of the United States, their electors, and justices of the peace.


Sec. 3.  17 V.S.A. § 2353(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The name of any person shall be printed upon the primary ballot as a candidate for nomination by any major political party for any office indicated, if petitions containing the requisite number of signatures made by legal voters, in substantially the following form, are filed with the proper official, together with the person's written consent to having his name printed on the ballot:

STATE OF VERMONT  

County of  ............................... )          

       ss.

     City (town) of  .......................... )

I join in a petition to place on the primary ballot of the ............................................................... party the name of  ...................., whose residence is in the (city), (town) of  .................... in the county of ..............................., for the office of  .................... to be voted for on Tuesday, the  ............... day of September August, 20  .......; and I certify that I am at the present time a registered voter and am qualified to vote for a candidate for this office.

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2369 is amended to read:

§ 2369.  DETERMINING WINNER; TIE VOTES

Persons who receive a plurality of all the votes cast by a party in a primary shall be candidates of that party for the office designated on the ballot.  If two or more candidates of the same party are tied for the same office, the choice among those tied shall be determined:

(1)  Upon five days' notice, by the state committee of a party, for a state or congressional office;

(2)  By run-off election for a county office, for a state senator, or for a representative to the general assembly.  The run-off election shall be held on the fourth second Tuesday of September and shall be conducted in the same manner as the primary election.

Sec. 4a.  17 V.S.A. § 2356 is amended to read:

§ 2356. TIME FOR FILING PETITIONS

Primary petitions shall be filed no sooner than the first Monday in June and not later than 5:00 p.m. on the third fourth Monday of July June preceding the primary election prescribed by section 2351 of this title, and not later than 5:00 p.m. of the 42nd day prior to the day of a special primary election.

Sec. 5.  17 V.S.A. § 2413(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The party members in each town, on or before the first third Tuesday of September August in each even numbered even-numbered year, upon the call of the town committee, may meet in caucus and nominate candidates for justice of the peace.  The committee shall give notice of the caucus as provided in subsection (d) of this section and the chairman and secretary shall file the statements required in sections 2385 through 2387 of this title.

Sec. 5a.  17 V.S.A. § 2386 is amended to read:

(a) Statements pursuant to this subchapter, except for vacancies created by the death or withdrawal of a candidate after the primary, shall be filed not more than 60 days before no sooner than the second Monday prior to the day of the general primary election and not later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the primary election.

Sec. 6.  17 V.S.A. § 2532 is amended to read:

§ 2532.  APPLICATIONS; FORM

* * *

(b)  A person temporarily residing in a foreign country who is eligible to register to vote in this state, or a military service absentee voter who is eligible to register to vote in this state, may apply for early voter absentee ballots in the same manner and within the same time limits that apply for other early or absentee voters.  An official federal postcard application shall suffice as a simultaneous request for an application for addition to the checklist and for an early voter absentee ballot, when properly submitted. Any other person also may make a simultaneous request for an application for addition to the checklist and for an early voter absentee ballot.  The provisions of this section shall apply to anyone who is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of election, but expects to be eligible on or before election day.

(c)  If the request is received by the town clerk not later than noon on the second Monday before the election prior to the voter registration deadline set forth in subsection 2144(a) of this title, the town clerk shall mail a blank application for addition to the checklist, together with a full set of early voter absentee ballots, to the person who has applied for early voter absentee ballots. All such applications for addition to the checklist which are returned to the town clerk before the close of the polls on election day shall be considered and acted upon by the board of civil authority before the ballots are counted. If the application is approved and the name added to the checklist, the early voter absentee ballots cast by that voter shall be treated as other valid early voter absentee ballots.

* * *

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, Senator White moved that the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment with an amendment, as follows;

     By striking out Secs. 2, 3, 4, 4a, 5 and 5a in their entirety.

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the bill was ordered messaged to the House forthwith.

Adjournment

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the Senate adjourned until eleven o’clock in the morning.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us