About the Film

What is good development?

How does Vermont’s energy equation work?

There are 17 electric utilities that, as regulated monopolies, manage the production, selling and purchasing of power for their region. These utilities answer to their owners, state regulation and federal regulation. GMP is privately owned, two are co-ops and 14 are municipally owned. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) oversees state operations and The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ensures federal compliance. PUC grants a Certificate of Public Good, enabling the formation of the utility or installation.

Left: Vermont electric services territory map by utility. For a comprehensive Vermont energy plan see eia.gov

How is clean energy being classified and measured?

Five energy sources are treated as one classification: Renewable

Solar

Wind

Geothermal

Hydropower

Biomass

  • Wood and wood waste
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Landfill gas and biogas
  • Ethanol
  • Biodiesel

The facilities that produce Renewable Energy Credits are split into two tiers: large facilities predating 2015’s Act 56, and smaller, newer facilities. A third tier was also created to account for fuel reduction upgrades.

“Vermont’s overarching policy is called the Renewable Energy Standard. In 2015, section 8 from Act 56 directed the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to implement a renewable energy standard, by means of “an order, to take effect on January 1, 2017.” This requires Vermont’s distribution utilities (DUs) to acquire and retire a minimum quantity of renewable energy attributes or Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), and to achieve fossil-fuel savings from energy transformation projects. Utility companies may obtain RECs from net-metering projects, standard-offer projects, ownership of utility-scale resources, long-term PPAs, or REC-only purchases. The structure of the RES is divided into three tiers.” 2019 Public Services Dept. Renewable Programs Report

Left: Vermont electric services territory map by utility. For a comprehensive Vermont energy plan see eia.gov

Tier I requires DUs to retire qualified RECs or attributes from any renewable resource to cover at least 55% of their annual retail electric sales starting in 2017. There is no limit on the age or location of the resource, provided that it can physically deliver energy to New England. The Tier I requirement increases by 4% every third January 1 thereafter, up to 75% in 2032.

Tier II requires DUs to retire qualified RECs equivalent to 1% of their annual retail sales starting in 2017. Tier II eligible resources must have a nameplate capacity of less than 5 MW, be commissioned after June 30, 2015, and be connected to a Vermont distribution or subtransmission line. The Tier II requirement increases by three-fifths of a percent each year, up to 10% in 2032. Pursuant to Section 8005(a)(1)(C), Tier II is a carve-out and resources also count towards a DU’s Tier I requirement. Additionally, to the extent that a DU is 100% renewable, the DU is not required to meet the annual Tier II requirements but must continue to accept new net-metering systems and retire the associated RECs.

Tier III requires DUs to achieve fossil-fuel savings from energy transformation projects or retire Tier II RECs. For Tier III, the RES requires savings of 2% of a DU’s annual retail sales in 2017 increasing to 12% by 2032, except for municipal electric utilities serving less than 6,000 customers, which had a delayed start and no obligation until 2019. Energy transformation projects implemented on or after January 1, 2015 are eligible to be counted towards a DU’s Tier 3 obligation. Energy transformation projects include weatherizing buildings, installing air source or geothermal heat pumps, biomass heating systems and other high-efficiency heating systems, switching industrial processes from fossil fuel to electric, increased use of biofuels, and deployment of electric vehicles or related charging infrastructure. The Tier III requirements are additional to the Tier I requirements; an ACP option or retirement of Tier II RECs are also available for Tier III compliance. PUC.Vermont.gov

How do we modernize the power grid?

Vermont has a reputation as a leader in energy and environmental policy. Vermonters agree on protecting the environment but are confused on how to do it. As we sit at the precipice of a new energy epoch, Clean Capture questions the state’s role as an exemplar by asking what can be done to help model good development.

Left: The Coolidge Solar Project occupies 150 acres.

Clean Capture investigates developments like The Coolidge Solar Project in Ludlow, Vermont. The state’s largest solar installation is owned by NextEra, the self proclaimed largest utility company in the world. The renewable energy credits it produces are sold to Connecticut.